Recent moves by Disney and Marriott show how technology will increasingly shape the world of travel, from the “metaverse” to digital travel artwork.

The U.S. Patent Office recently approved Disney Enterprises’ “virtual world simulator,” which would include a projection device as well as tracking system, enabling Disney to display virtual effects to its real-world venues as guests move about, reports PhocusWire.

The patent documents describe a computing platform that communicates with a projection device, as well as a tracking system to map the venue and identify which virtual effects are visible to individual guests.

This augmented reality (AR) technology would allow users to engage with a mix of real-world and virtual elements to assist in a more immersive - and customized - experience.

From the patent documents, it appears that guests at Disney resorts will be able to wear devices and have the ability to observe or interact with specific experiences at attractions that would not be available to guests who are not wearing the devices.

When unveiling its Q4 and full year 2021 results, Disney mentioned using the power of its platform as well as “new technologies to give consumers the best entertainment experience possible.”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek added: “It is incredible to see how our use of emerging technology and insights gained through our innumerable consumer touchpoints is enabling us to transform the way people interact with and experience our stories and products in both worlds.”

He also described the development of the augmented reality technology so far as “merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse.”

In case you’re wondering, technology experts define the term “metaverse” as a “simulated digital environment” that uses technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), among others, to create spaces for user interaction which mimics the “real world.”

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott International’s travel program, is dipping its toes into next-generation technology, too.

The company has partnered with digital artists to create three Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), becoming the first hospitality brand to do so.

NFTs are digital collectibles that are verified as unique through blockchain technology, and can be traded or even sold (think: virtual hockey cards.)

The three NFTs: MΞMORIED, created by artist Tarek Mustapha; The Emotional Journey, designed by Jared “Jay” Richardson; THE EXPERIENTIAL IN BETWEEN, developed by Erick Nicolay, all showcase different themes of travel, such as the experience of staying at a Marriott Bonvoy property, the ability of environmental travel to evoke different emotions, or even the feeling of indoor vs. outdoor travel.

The NFTs were then unveiled at an Art Basel event for modern and contemporary art last month. In an associated launch contest, three of the loyalty program members were able to each win one of the NFTs as well as 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

With the unexpected rise of NFTs in 2021, Marriott Bonvoy’s latest venture into the technology explores how it may be relevant to the travel industry.

“We are excited to bring our extraordinary portfolio of hotel brands and endless experiences into this growing platform,” said Brian Povinelli, Senior Vice President, Brand, Loyalty, and Portfolio Marketing, Marriott International.

“We continuously seek opportunities to defy what is conventional and, with our entry in the digital goods space, we are further igniting the transformative power of travel in the virtual world, while supporting this growing community of incredibly talented artists.”

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