The Metaverse in Hospitality Marketing: Loren Gray Interview (Thinks Out Loud Episode 366)
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We’ve been talking about the possibilities and pitfalls associated with “the metaverse” for marketers over the last handful of months. In this episode of Thinks Out Loud, we’re going to hear from Loren Gray, a celebrated hospitality digital marketer, about specific use cases where the metaverse makes sense, where it doesn’t yet clear the bar, and where the metaverse might be going.
Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.
The Metaverse in Hospitality Marketing: Loren Gray Interview — Headlines and Show Notes
Show Notes and Links
- Hospitality Digital Marketing – Accurate Experienced Advice for Hospitality Professionals
- What Is the Metaverse? An Explanation.
- Metaverse – Wikipedia
- Is It Time for Digital Marketers to Move On to The Next Big Thing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 360)
- A Far Too Quick Look at the Metaverse, web3, and the Future of Digital (Thinks Out Loud Episode 349)
- How Much Will 2022’s Top Tech Trends Shape Your Digital Strategy This Year? Not Much (Thinks Out Loud Episode 334) – Tim Peter & Associates
- Where Digital Might Take Us Next (Thinks Out Loud Episode 321)
- What 2022 Trends Should Marketers Care About? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 335) – Tim Peter & Associates
- The Future Digital Trends You Must Think About Today (Thinks Out Loud Episode 342)
- What Does "Digital" Even Mean Right Now (Thinks Out Loud Episode 343)
- Where Content, Community, and Customer Experience Meet (Thinks Out Loud Episode 346) – Tim Peter & Associates
- What’s Going on With AI in Marketing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 351)
- Revisiting How to Build the Business Case for Digital in Your Budget (Thinks Out Loud)
- The Future is Already Here (Thinks Out Loud Episode 370)
- The Sky is Falling? The State of Digital — Q4 2022 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 364)
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- A Brief Introduction to Thinks Out Loud. As a bonus, we’ve also included this PDF document that highlights some of our core episodes to help you dig into what the show is about. We think it will help you capture the show’s essence while you’re working your way through the 300-plus episodes published so far. Download it here.
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- Customer Focus
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Transcript: The Metaverse in Hospitality Marketing: Loren Gray Interview
And I will behave myself. I won’t talk about you bringing me by private charter to an amazingly gilded studio with golden statues and signed autographed pictures of famous people. No, I won’t mention that at all.
All right. So Loren you and I have known each other for 20 years probably — the better part of twenty years — fifteen to 20. So I know you really well.
But for the folks who are listening to this podcast, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well we can go back to when I was born as a small child in the suburbs. But I think we’ll jump up to the past forty years of my life working in hospitality.
Coming from being a certified chef, restaurants, owning restaurants and running restaurants, got into hotels via food. So as a foodie. I moved up and into the ranks, became every department head and GMm then regional, then corporate, and then independent. And here I am.] Pretty much I’ve run the wonderful joy of running hotels running restaurants and hotels running resorts just and then now the real fun of being able to deal with people globally to solve all of their fun issues that they camp at their hotels and restaurants.
And particularly using digital right? I mean you’ve been a digital guy for certainly as long as I’ve known you.
Yeah, yeah, it had started, well back in the day, with e-commerce right? It used to be the e-commerce right? went into digital. , it’s kind of grown because digital has grown into every facet of how our businesses now work. The questions that get asked of me now go beyond just the marketing spectrum into the tech stacks, the interfaces, data collection, data usages, assimilation, training, how to search and find HR. It begins to broaden out because as it does it connects to so many things now.
Yeah, right? exactly? Well the way I always like to say it is people carry the internet in their pocket. So no doubt that it’s going to actually connect with every single part of what we do in our day-to-day lives and in our businesses all right?
So just some background as to why you’re here. You know you are a tech optimist. You are also one of the most creative thinkers I know, you know? You really think about things from a very specific perspective and a perspective that I enjoy because it forces me to question my assumptions a lot so you know obviously there’s a lot of hullabaloo this year, a lot of talk this year about the metaverse, a lot of talk about VR, a lot of talk about AR. And I’ve gone on record with my point of view and the reason you’re here is to kind of provide an alternative point of view. So my question for you is what’s your favorite thing about VR specifically? We’ll get into the metaverse generally in a moment but when we talk about VR and the like, talk to me about what you love about it.
Right now I would like to preface most of my answers to the “as is” to what we’re discussing because what we see “as is” now, I don’t feel will be the iteration of what’s to come for both VR and AR. But “as is” I think the optimism of what can provide for segments of our society that ARe excluded from more broader interactions of things? I think of people that can’t travel or physically do things that they used to do. I think that affords a unique opportunity for them to experience things that they just wouldn’t be able to do in the real world.
I Think that that right now that is the prime positive of what VR and AR in my mind represent to us.
Yup got it. So when you’re talking about VR and AR is there one you’re more bullish on? Is there when you’re less bullish on? Is it that you’re equally bullish but different timeframes? You know, when you’re talking about this stuff, where do you see us now?. And where do you see us a couple years down the road? Not 10, not 20 but the next few years?
I think from a timetable if it was a race between the two, AR will be more ingrained into opportunity and usable for us in the near future, more so than VR. However, from a perspective of long-term impact value I think that VR will become all that it’s hopefully intended to be in the years to come. So from a time sense I think AR, we’re seeing it already with Google Lens, Google Photos, already already creeping into usable tools for the common person
Yup got it and what are your favorite things about the metaverse more generally? If we kind of pull back a little bit, look at a longer term or wider usage than we’re seeing now, you know what are the kinds of things that excite you or get you going?
Yeah I think the unique part of VR and the value “as is” is the ability to interact for us, to present content that was hard to present before in an interactive way. We say a picture is worth 1000 words, videos should be worth a million or whatever. Things we throw around in VR is a chance to have the unique interactions visually and in presence that just that two-dimensional perspective doesn’t often give you. I think that’s the real unique thing that it has as a value proposition right now “as is.”
Right, And do you see that? You know what I see as one of the challenges with VR at the moment and again, this isn’t to be like a point-counterpoint or anything, but one of the challenges I see with the immersion — I agree with you; the immersion is amazing — I also find it is somewhat disconnecting.
You know the analogy that I have used more than once is it reminds me of the early days of the internet. You know your computer was either in an office in your house — I mean it was in your office at work obviously — but at home it was in your office or it was in an alcove in the kitchen, and to access the internet you had to disconnect from the real world right? You had to step away from the people around you to go online, right? I mean even the terminology was I’m going to leave here and “go online.”
And VR to me, I still think one of its major hurdles is that it is still that “go online” experience right? It disconnects you from the world you’re in for better and worse right? Not better or worse, but both right?
You know, can you talk a little bit about the benefits of that immersion?
Sure I kind of equate it to a good book because we do the same with a good book. When I go to read a book I’m not paying attention to my surroundings. I mean I’m mentally engaging with what I’m reading. We do this with our podcasts, even the audio portion. The voice in the head and mentality.
I think VR represents that as well. But we’re also seeing in VR the transition of the technology “as is” that’s trying to address that interface. And now we’re really more talking about AR because we’re looking at or engaging in our real world but also including things that don’t exist in our real world visually.
“As is.” Yep.
There are more and more apps that are coming in VR. The recent Meta headset, the Pro that came out is very AR-focused, where it enhanced its ability to visually see the surrounding areas of the user, to interact with it so that you can create virtual activities within your realworld space.
There’s a really neat program called “Woorld” that puts a board of a map in front of you in 3-dimensions and you can go anywhere in the world and look at places and zoom in and zoom out. And you can share it with other people that aren’t in your real world space to collaborate on, “when we get here, we want to walk around here” or whatever. The interaction of visual engagement to your real space I think is a progression of a work in progress for it for the AR value of VR. But you’re right, VR is immersive, “I’m going to go into it now and where I’m at is no longer relevant to me.” Absolutely yeah.
Yeah, yeah, I’m going to ask you about use cases in a minute but what you just described, “The Woorld” is interesting.
You know the use case I’ve wanted to see for years is where you know somebody’s playing video golf, for instance, and you’re on some really cool course that you might not have the opportunity to play or it might be a life and once- in-a-lifetime experience or something along those lines, and you finish with the eighteenth green and you’re able to walk off the golf course into the lobby of the resort and make a reservation or something along those lines like. It just seems like such a natural experience to me, to expose folks to something and then use that as a transition to commerce at some point. I’m a little disappointed we’re not there yet. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s something I’m missing there.
, no, no, we’re not there yet and unfortunately the universe the metaverse is coined is still dictated by the vision of a few and it isn’t guided by the populace of interest. so for that reason, everything is presented in the context of “is it controllable? Is it measurable? Is it marketable?” and that is always going to be prohibitive as to what you just said. Creatively of like, “why couldn’t there be an engagement relationship between the VR engagement and the real world experience?” Absolutely.
Yeah, got it. Are there any use cases? So I just gave 1 example. You know that’s always been in my head but are there any use cases that you think are either here now or coming soon. You know that people who are in travel whether they’re in hospitality whether they’re you know. Business owners whether they’re business managers. You know that they ought to be watching for things like what’s either here or right on the horizon that you know people ought to be looking out for.
Well, if we’re doing it by numbers and by context of the audience right now we’re around 16000000 engaged users for. Our headsets is the sales figure that we’re aware of. It’s estimated to come around 18000000 by the beginning next year via the Christmas holiday and what have you? yeah.
That’s on an annual basis right? Just to clarify. It’s not the existing user base, because I think the user base is somewhere around 80 to 100 Million. But you’re saying we’re doing about fifteen, eighteen, twenty million a year right? Got it. Okay, just wanted to clarify.
Like yeah, yeah, and and and so so so you have this audience and it’s global depending upon income and availability of internet and so forth the conditions of it. , but you have it at different levels and of course I think unfortunately VR and AR are caught into this bad loop. That , it’s been used as a whipping stick of future fear like oh my gosh if you notice most of the commercials related to future technology. They’re slapping a VR headset on people. , you know the idea of matrix and all these other things come to mind is to and there are even shows on Hulu and Netflix now that are. About virtual worlds that you put a headset on in boof you’re gone somewhere else.
Right? right? right? or or 1 but you know a heavily maligned movie that came out just a few months ago right absolutely yeah sure sure.
Yes, yes, and and because because we all as a society need our villains and we also need our our icons of of reflection as to past and present I mean we we think generationally we look back and and movies were made about certain genres of time frames because of the the demographics of the people watching those movies. So.
We’re we’re we’re at slaves to our perceptions of examples of things and Vr unfortunately has been put into that loop that Vr is the vision of the future and that it’s either mocked or it’s highlighted but either which way it’s put into an artificial world of expectation.
, the reality and that’s why I kept thinking that as our discussion goes today “as is” is the more relevant way of perceiving the value proposition of the product right now there is an affordable product out there. The oculus quest too and I say affordable meaning that it’s around $400
There are much more expensive versions. There’s a whole tech associated with whether you not get better resolution plugged in computers and all this but the reality of it is. It’s an attainable threshold of $400 just like an Xbox or , yeah p two or something so 5 So the yes.
Right. And cheap when we compare it to what a laptop or a desktop computer cost thirty years ago, right? I mean, in real dollar terms, it’s actually very affordable.
Yes, and and through the usages of people 1 of the the first things are is engagement like games and so forth. So you have a heavy adoption on certain skewed things and that means demographics as well certain demographics follow a certain trend to it. So those people have influence on purchases but it.
Everyone’s trying to shift to the business side is what had just happened with Meta in their newest headsets. The limitations of the technology are as biggest downfall right now. People complain that you couldn’t see my facial expressions in Vr because there was no way for it to present it while you know data. A new headset has cameras facing into your face so you can.
Smile and make faces and your avatar, your virtual representation of VR reflects that. The fact that there’s no legs to people in VR is because there’s no way to measure motion and you know and there’s there’s third party stuff that does all this but the idea of it.
Condemning it for the future on what it’s supposed to represent and it’s not fulfilling that is a take away from what it is as is and to go to your question as is it’s remarkable that I can go and be on Mount Everest and look around as if I’m standing there.
And you know we’ve gone through this and it’s fun right now. It’s an entertainment value. What do we do? So Monitornet’s your engagement. It’s not there. Am I buying a ticket to go to Mount Everest? No. But the things that I see that I enjoy is, I can be on a beach just north of me, Anna Maria, and be on the beach for 30 minutes where the guy put a 360º camera in the sand. And let it sit there for 30 minutes. And so in our world of hospitality, if I want to get a sense of what a place is like from a first person point of view, then VR begins to have a value proposition.
Because I can actually give that to somebody if they’re aware of it being available in the medium and if they have the medium to use it.
So so you’re seeing it right at the moment I mean the the use case that you think is more interesting at the moment I’m not trying to put words in your mouth I’m just this is more of a friend of mine always likes to say I think I heard what you thought you said is it’s a storytelling vehicle.
It’s a way to invite people into a story that they can experience in the real world or that they or maybe can extend the real world in hopes of actually getting them to engage with the real world later or at a minimum put it on their bucket list. Put it on their watch list of things they want to do, is that a fair restatement of it?
Yeah, it is. I think I’ve seen aspects of attempting to monetize that relationship as a platform for a while. It’s still there. But it’s not been added to in a while called Melody. And what they did was they put some very nice high-res 360º 3D cameras around the stages of famous artists.
And you could pay it for a ticket and stand right next to Kelly Clarkson by her on the end of the stage with tens of thousands of people around her or backed by the bass player or backed by the drummer or in the in the in the in the the nosebleed seats or right up at the front row and it gave you chance to experience the concert first person as if you were there.
Neat stuff. But I guess you know from a perspective of monetization and an audience that’s willing to fund that kind of thing it didn’t. It didn’t hit that threshold for them. So you know maybe.
, and maybe they were just too soon right? I mean you think about things like Webvan back in the the.com days you think about things like pets.com and the dot com days. There are now working versions of those just not those specific companies. So The idea was good. They may have just been a little premature on it.
Little bit ahead themselves and and I think my optimism for what the usability can be is kind of so much to what I use VR for during the lockdown that we had of again going back to what you think you heard is genuinely true of being able to go to the sistine chapel and look up at the ceiling.
And as if I was there to go to Notre Dame to go to Greece. I mean I didn’t even know some of the islands in Greece but I got to go visit them. There’s a wonderful VR program called wander and literally Google’s street view is you can be anywhere there now it doesn’t always mean the pictures are fantastically awesome or most recent but that’s.
Google street view but you can go to places and see what it’s like to be standing there. I find that very neat in the sense of the research component and the discovery component of what we look at when it comes to hospitality marketing.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense when do you think you know you’ve talked about sales figures and things along those lines a little bit. You know when do you think we’re going to see mainstream adoption. Of the metaverse and I’m using I’m putting air quotes around 2 different terms there one is mainstream and what is metaverse so you know if you could kind of let me know what you’re thinking in terms of what main the stream looks like and what the metaverse looks like and when we might be there.
To whatever those “there’s” are as you define them?
Sure I think in the next twenty-four months, we are going to see the other players step into the space that has been pretty much dominated by a single entity. It’s not saying that they’re the only headset in town, but Meta is basically the only affordable headset in town. We’re still waiting for the Apple version, of its perspective, if it’s even going to be in this perspective. We’re looking at Microsoft getting out of the business model into the personal model. I think if anything Tiktok has shared with us is that there are no absolutes to thinking that there can never be another social platform. .
Oh sure. Sure.
You know we’ve witnessed the changes in Facebook and Twitter obviously and so forth. And so for that reason I would make the context of the timeline to mainstream adoption. It’s going to be I think more a product than it is a process. It’s where the product is. Satisfies enough of the interest and those that are already interested that it becomes a usable component to their purpose of use. Whether it’s gaming or not, I think it’s a product. I think all the people that are tattooed with an Apple as you like to refer to. And, you know, when Apple comes out and says, “yes you can wear this headset and with your phone and your watch you don’t need your laptop.” Holy blazes! That’s great. Who knows what those iterations are going to be? Right now we’re seeing incremental solutions to the technology like, say, going back to the Meta headset.
Yeah, yup, yep.
We’re seeing some things that get added to the new headset. But the negative is the perception of the cost and everything else. So it stumble-stepping its way forward. So, mainstream adoption I think will be event-driven. product-driven, I should say, and the metaverse usage I think will never be just the total immersion VR that we’re talking about. We’re talking about Oasys out of “Ready Player One.” I think that will exist. I think those things will exist but I don’t think they’re going to be the Second Life things where.
You know, you buy a piece of land on a virtual world and you know you now control financial capabilities of a virtual space, I think it’s going to be a mixture of those things through the portal of AR. The usage of AR will be the catalyst technology I think.
Yeah, yeah, you think that’s the you think that’s the gateway drug into. Yeah yeah.
Yeah, it is. I think the gateway drug is already happening. And whatever Google comes up with in its new iteration of headset minus the Google Glasses that it used to have. I mean, we’re already seeing it, where it’s becoming socially acceptable. Ray-Ban with Meta, the Ray-Ban with the camera. I know there’s positives and negatives to that. Obviously. You have the Snapchat glasses and so forth. You’re seeing more this the POV but little cameras that I use and have and so forth, those things are in our society now and they’re getting more used. We’re as a society, we’re more and more used to watching the news and saying, “Where’s the camera footage?” We expect cameras to be everywhere. So I think that’s where the AR component will be, as you say, be a gateway process.
And then the VR usage of the technology that is being used for AR will be the catalyst into looking for and exploring that unplugging from the real world going to the metverse.
So I said we weren’t going to do a point-counterpoint, I am going to do one small counterpoint here. Not because I disagree with you, though. I actually do agree with you with the caveat that I think it’s more the “killer app: than the hardware. You know what I mean?
I think like when spreadsheets came for desktop computers or when the App Store came from mobile or you know Myst for the home PC and things along those lines were the things that made people run out to get the thing. You know? I do agree with you; the hardware still needs improvement. .
But that’s probably a problem that’s going to be solved in relatively short order, I think. It’s going to be a game or an entertainment experience or a business application or something is the thing that is lacking today that causes people to want the hardware.
It reminds me of the first time I used, you mentioned Second Life before, the thing that it reminds me of was the first time I was on Second Life, I was like “Interesting. now what?” and that’s kind of been my experience with a handful of exceptional use cases. That’s kind of in my experience with a lot of VR, specifically. AR? I agree with you a thousand percent. I think that’s kind of sneaking its way into our lives every day in a way that it isn’t getting the same attention as VR but I do think there’s going to be one of those where there’s going to be an app where all of a sudden people are going to go, “Oh now I really want one of those.”
Yeah, we’ve had our stutter steps and I actually agree with you. I think there will be the catalyst for the adoption of the hardware that was already there and the expansion of the hardware to match the interest in the software. I do definitely. I mean, look at the Pokemon (Go) craze. Oh my gosh you know people died trying to play Pokemon for goodness sake.
And and you thought, “Oh my gosh! AR is here! People have now wholesale adopted it”. No. It died because as you pointed out with Second Life, what’s next? Okay I can chase little virtual animated creatures around. What else is there? I’ve had AR. I’ve impressed people with putting AR in their environment. I can pick a point on a map and say go there and
“Can have an AR thing there?” and so forth. But the the usability and adoption and the value proposition it represents for those that bright checks isn’t there. But yes I definitely see it being one of those things I mean going back to like in “Minority Report” where Tom Cruise has the screens in front of him. He’s doing the hand thing.
Can do this in VR” It’s not as you know, I mean your hand gestures can’t do so. But the reality of it is the headset gets heavy on the head. The batteries don’t last as long and the interfaces aren’t as slick as what he was using. So the vision is there. But I think as you said, technology will catch up with it.
But when the function is there, that’s when you’re really going to get the adoption. I definitely think that you have a good, great addition to that? No.
That that makes perfect sense. I mean yeah, it sounds like we agree. It would be really weird if I was like, “that doesn’t make any sense at all!”
Yeah, we do. We do? Yeah, “Totally off base Loren! And I have never said that before.” No, guys.
So we’ve talked about some of the you know limitations that exist right now. But let’s turn this back to the positive right? What stories can you share about where companies are finding success with these tools and again you can define success. However, you want it, doesn’t always have to be money in this specific case.
Sure and and and I think success sometimes as I mentioned is just the fact that it worked! I think you’ve shared this also by testing VR as well.
Right. The learning you get from it, right? The learning from the experience. Yeah, yeah.
You can meet with clients and and have virtual meetings and and you know yes you did it. Almost as productive as you are in person. No more novelty; more conversation. Great. You have a whiteboard. But by the time you learn how to use the whiteboard you’ve taken 20 minutes to figure it out. You know, all good stuff like that.
I think I think those are things that they work because I’m not going to go to England and have an in-person meeting and I’m also necessarily a Zoom and any other 2-dimensional screen, new usage just it was a novel, different way of doing it. That being said I think also…
Some of the off hand successes that I’ve had is with platforms. Like, I love mind mapping and strangely enough it’s hard to convey everything that you put into a mind map when you’re just showing it a two-dimension space. There’s a platform that I use that I actually brought somebody into my mind map which was scary to them first because it’s all 3-dimensional stuff.
Picture my mind in the size of a warehouse virtual warehouse with little little lines with dots and squares and circles and stuff in it. It is, yeah, it it was like first thing I got was, “Oh, my God! What is this?” and I’m like, “Oh it’s just a thought I had.” It’s like, “Gee, okay…” but…
That is frankly terrifying Loren!
I think communication0wise it’s’s the successes I’ve had have been about sharing ideas and or sharing communication and I think this also lends itself to the future value of it. In some senses, we still in the reality of our working space have certain “Criteria Thresholds.” We have:
The “I must be in front of you” physical conversations.
We have then on the other end of the spectrum we have “Can I just do an email?” kind of conversations
In the middle between both of those there is the “I really would like to have an engaging conversation with you and I need to have it to be more valuable than a visual Zoom call.” I need to have something that we can interact with and so forth.
And and I think this is a neat little place for it to drop in because that’s where I’ve had success with it with clients is having that additional engagement without the commitment of having to actually physically be in front of them. It was a nice, you know, interim kind of thing to this.
That answers some of the smaller success in the end. And that puts to scale why it’s not quite where it needs to be to be more valuable to us from a business perspective yet.
Got it, got it cool all right? Well we’re coming up on time. Is there anything we didn’t talk about that. You’d like to share.
Well I think you gave me the questions of where you see short versus long term. I want to put maybe an interim thing to this and that is I think one of the things that we’re on the threshold of “as is” technology-wise right now is the ability for live engagement.
When I say this I’ve made the announcement, the reference to the concert as one example. But that was a recorded concert that wasn’t a live concert; watching a sporting even from the bench. You already know the score too. I find it fascinating that on VR there’s a variety of contributors’ channels. I have my own even.
I put 360º stuff on from cameras that I use and so forth and some people have done amazing job of recording events. But they’re recordings. I’m beginning to see with the bandwidth capabilities in certain markets and so forth the idea of a live engagement.
There are are already classrooms that I can join and they look like a classroom and it’s a virtual classroom and I’m sitting wherever I want to in the room, whether, you know, somebody else is there or not, I can still sit in the same seat so to speak. I want to be close, to be teacher’s pet in the front, or be the person in the back waving my hand, I can choose that.
The live engagement portion of it I think is an untapped resource for us as an industry because think about tours. Okay I want to go to a certain place but I’m not too sure join a tour and then walk around with a person in real-time. I think again back to the exposure of product. It’ll eventually be one of those things where it’d be a tool for discovery.
And a way that will be unique and then going back to my original value proposition of VR for those that no longer can travel that way. It gives them an opportunity to firsthand experience it again as best as the technology as is can provide.
Well and I do think that’s an often overlooked — or at least often overlooked by me — use case, you know that has tremendous capabilities. You know when we talk about people who are, you know, dealing with whatever issues they are dealing with that make travel difficult for them. People who are immunocompromised and can’t go to certain places. Like, I think it’d be neat for people who can’t go to someplace like Sagrada Familia in Spain to walk around and experience that.
In some way that would be really really cool. So I think that’s a very, very interesting idea and a very cool concept.
Anything else that you’d like to talk about?
No I think that I mean again, the preface of all of this is “as is,” I don’t want to presumptively heap on what this technology will become as a validation of what it should eventually be in our society.
Because I think it’s going to be limited by the people that control it, who has influence on the technology. And we haven’t seen that really come true yet. Because two of the largest players, three of the largest players, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have yet to step into this (consumer) space. So we’re only seeing the world’s opportunity from one direction.
Right now we’re seeing it from one vision and I think that once we see more of the industry step into it I think we’re going to see a broader idea of what this potential of it could be.
Very cool. So I’m going to ask you a question, one last question. But do you have any concern, is there any concern that the Apples of the world, the Googles of the world — particularly having been stung a little bit by Glass — the Amazons of the world are sitting on the sidelines waiting to see if Facebook actually gets any traction here before they make a move? Or is it just the time it takes from them to bring a product to market and — they will do this — they’re just not there yet?
I think it’s let the first falter and the rest will fill in the gap. It’s kind of fun but before, prior to our conversation today, we talked about historically the merits of our old shows and old music where the in [inaudible] implication of the show or the implication of the words didn’t say exactly what they’re referring to. But you know what they were referring to the subtext of that. And I think what that means is that for us as a society because now I listen to music and I’m like we would never use those words in the song.
Fifteen, twenty years ago. Twenty-five years ago, we would refer to something implying that word perhaps but we wouldn’t exactly say the word. And there was huge, you know, the G ratings and the movie ratings that were developed back in the time because of the social acceptance of things.
Right. “Sneaking one past the censors.” I think they usually call that. Yeah yeah, yeah.
Yes, thank you. Well, I think that in a strange way metaphorically is what we’re looking at now is the, “Oh my gosh. You have you have a camera on your face?!? I’m out of here unless you shut that off and take it off your face!” Google Glasses. “I’m not going to talk to you because I don’t know if you’re recording me, blah, blah, blah…” That dulling of society’s general acceptance.
Before if you had a camera on your front door, “Oh my gosh. you watched me? You recorded me when I walk up to your front door?”
Where now it’s like, “Where’s the camera?” of that person walking up through my front door. So the acceptance of or tolerance of what this technology represents I think is kind of where the bit of the waiting game is coming into them is because.
They’re kind of seeing if we’re going to reintroduce glasses that do some of the things we had to do before AR wise. Is it going to be so spurned as it was back then or is it a, “Yeah, okay, I get in now. It’s okay” You know, just…
Yeah, that’s fair point. Yeah.
“Let me know if it’s on or let me know if it’s off,” kind of thing. Not a big, like, “Oh my gosh I’m not going to talk to you or tear that thing off your face,” or something or give you a derogatory name. I think that is some of it. And also, to be fair, I think Apple’s looking at where they first step because Apple is about a way of doing things that’s not been done yet. In lots of ways, they take the best, “what is the opportunity?” and make it unique to themselves…
Right. They don’t do them. They don’t do “a me too” kind of product. They try to do something that is distinct. Yeah I get that.
And they’re not against cannibalizing their previous hardware right? Innovative. And if this is going to do this is it going to replace a product that’s in existence. Everybody knows the phone’s going to go away. But what is it going to become is a question mark. You know, in the sense — and I’m not talking, is it going to be a little badge on our front like star trek or is it going to be a watch that we wear that does everything that we need I mean — where is this going to go? Because nobody wants to put a square little face thing on the side of their head all the time. It’s just one of those things. But what it does for us, we don’t want to lose.
So, what is it going to become? And I think this is where those things begin to land is will we begin to augment some of that technology with a visual component to it that we don’t have to put to this side of our head kind of thing.
Yeah, yeah. I generally agree. I think there is a place for, you know, I’m coining a term right now that I’ve never said before, but, you know, “screens of various sizes” I’m trying to come up with something that’s like Rodents Of Unusual Sizes…
“I don’t think that means what you think it means.”
Yeah, right? Where, there are places where, you know, the screen that is watch size or the auditory experience. You know like I’m an Apple guy, right? I’m wearing an Apple Watch. I use Apple Airpods and the like. There are times when you know Siri talks in my ear and the Watch showing me something on its screen is sufficient. There’s times where I want a somewhat bigger screen like my phone. There’s times where I want a much bigger screen like my laptop or my iPad. And I do think you raise an interesting point of a very interesting point of…
When does AR or VR step in and become that “screen of various sizes,” right? The next bigger screen that takes it over? I actually do agree with you that quote-unquote “phone” will go away at some point. I suspect we will have a phone size screen in our pockets for a long time to come. We may not pull it out of our pockets often, right? So yeah.
No I agree with you and and and strangely enough in the first person experience going back to a question you had asked earlier is when we were displaced by the hurricane and we were in a hotel room. My laptop screen, bless its little heart, was fine for most stuff. But I had some serious crunching. I’m familiar with multiple screens, I’m that, you know too much, “squirrel!”
So I put my VR headset on. That, I did bring with me. Figure that. Of all the things you’re going to carry with you, and I decided to bring a VR headset. I put it on so I could be in the room and I use one of the platforms’ workspace to go over and do this. And I could see my keyboard, my real keyboard, which is a function of being able to do that because I look when I type. But I had the ability to put very large multiple screens in front of me virtually. I mean I could see my hotel room in black and white. But I could see these big screens and I could…
Move and interact and use my mouse and do all the stuff I would do. Because I needed the extra screens. So it’s it’s already kind of answering that. That goes through the business of what you can use it for now “as is,” but it’s still heavy on the face.
Battery life. It only lasts so long and eventually you just get tired of looking down at little ghosty hands on a keyboard and you just want to go back to, “Okay fine. I got that work done. Let me take my headset off and go back to my laptop.” It’s not there yet. But I see the potential of it being potentially something like that especially in an AR-controlled environment, that’s smaller and lighter. Absolutely.
Makes total sense. And that seems like a perfect place to draw our conversation to a close.
Mr Gray, for people who are interested in learning more about you and all the fun stuff that makes you who you are, where can they find you on the interwebs?
Oh I was gonna say on the post office wall, but now. Okay.
I don’t even know if people relate to that anymore, what that means. You can find me always we answer all emails that come to me for everything that we do. It’s Loren at hospitalitydigitalmarketing.com and, of course, the website is Hospitality Digital Marketing dot com. You can get me there too.
Perfect. Loren Gray, thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Tim. Always a pleasure.
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