NFTs Are Enhancing Hospitality Experiences In More Ways Than One
Explore the transformative impact of NFTs on the hospitality industry, as they go to innovate and authenticate real-world experiences.
Non-fungible tokens, otherwise known as NFTs, became one of the hottest buzzwords in 2021 at a time when crypto hype was sky high. With the onset of crypto winter, NFTs don’t make nearly as many headlines as they used to do, but the technology has nonetheless evolved from its original concept of recording the ownership of digital art.
One of the ways NFTs are evolving is to play a prominent role in the modernization of the hospitality industry, where projects such as the Flyfish Club and Staynex, as well as major airlines like Air Europa and Air Baltica have been rapidly innovating to take advantage of the unique digital tokens.
Just a quick recap – NFTs are digital tokens recorded on the blockchain that can represent digital assets, or even be tied to a physical asset in the real world. The blockchain certifies the authenticity and ownership of the underlying asset, thanks to its immutable and distributed nature which ensures no one can alter the digital records attached to it.
NFTs first took off as digital art and collectibles, with some of the most notable projects including Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks. The growing interest in these tokens led to big name brands such as Nike, Adidas, Prada, the NFL and McDonalds – to name just a few – exploring the technology.
With the dawn of crypto winter beginning in 2022, the value of most NFTs has collapsed dramatically, but even as people lose interest in many of the earlier projects, more innovative use cases are emerging that could see them realize their full potential by providing real-world utility to holders.
One area where NFTs are making their mark is in the hospitality industry. While the earliest NFT travel projects were mostly simple digital art collectibles issued by the likes of InterContinental and Marriott, we have also seen the emergence of more creative use cases.
NFT Flight Tickets
NFTs can depict far more than just a bunch of pixels. One of the most promising features is their ability to digitize access rights or membership to a club or an organization on the blockchain. This has led to some very interesting experiments, with Air Europa for instance recently announcing that it will start selling NFT-based tickets alongside its traditional reservation process. Travelers who pay with crypto can now buy NFT tickets that grant more flexibility, and can be traded freely on a decentralized marketplace up to 72 hours before the time of departure.
A similar project was announced by Air Baltic, which has integrated its “Planies” NFT collection with its traditional frequent flyer program to provide regular customers with superior loyalty benefits.
Aside from travel, restaurants are also getting in on the NFT scene. One of the most famous examples of this is the Flyfish Club, which provides holders with membership of an exclusive and high-end restaurant in New York City. Only NFT members card holders are allowed to access the venue, which is operated by Gary Vaynerchuck’s VCR Group.
As the company states on its website: “Flyfish Club is able to create a loyal, member-community that we can provide special experiences for. NFT’s create new modernistic financial models, which will allow Flyfish Club to deliver an exceptional and sustainable product for years to come.”
With Flyfish Club, users can opt between two different NFTs that provide a different kind of membership. They can purchase either Flyfish or Flyfish Omasake NFTs, with the former providing access to the restaurant’s cocktail lounge, seafood restaurant and private events. These NFTs currently sell for 2.5 ETH, or around $5,100 at the time of writing. As for the Flyfish Omasake NFTs, these are even more exclusive, as they also provide access to the Omasake room, which is a private dining room. The cost of these NFTs is around 4.25 ETH.
NFT Hotel Stays
NFTs can be used to reimagine loyalty and rewards programs and boost brand engagement, with the tokens acting as a digital gateway to perks and services in both the virtual and real-world. Another good example of this is the SEM9 eSports hotel, which launched an NFT collection dedicated to gamers. Besides being a cool collectible, the NFTs also gave holders access to a free night’s stay at the hotel, exclusive merchandise and invites to physical and digital events.
Timeshares are another hospitality industry concept that’s just waiting to be reinvented with NFT technology. Staynex has developed NFT-based “Staynex Passes” that provide holders with access to a number of luxury resorts globally, in China, Indonesia, the U.K. and other destinations. In many ways, the Staynex Passes are just like traditional timeshares, granting the holder the privilege of staying at the resort for a specified number of days each year. The advantage is that these dates are flexible as the NFTs can be redeemed at any date. In addition, they also provide the holder with a share of the resort’s ownership, meaning they can earn a portion of the revenue generated by the business. In this way, they’re not only a holiday coupon but also an investment that can be freely traded across a digital marketplace.
Staynex’s first resort was the Kunang Kunang Tent Resort in Indonesia, which sold the NFTs to crowdfund its development. The auction saw 365 NFTs sold, representing a 24-hour stay for the holder.
While NFTs are accessible to anyone due to their decentralized nature, they can also be hard to get, especially when they’re minted in limited amounts. That’s the case with the Dream Hollywood hotel’s NFT collection, which is a kind of membership program that provides perks such as free stays at its hotels, private events, poolside lounge chairs, an expert concierge, co-working spaces, the use of luxury cars and more.
NFTs for Sustainability
In addition, the hospitality industry has also experimented with using NFTs to support good causes such as environmental and ecological projects, marrying innovation with corporate social responsibility. For instance, the Unchained Elephants NFT project aims to support regenerative and responsible tourism, with its proceeds being used to support communities and educate people about the welfare of elephants.
Meanwhile, Nature Seychelles launched what it claims is the world’s first digital species in the shape of a limited-edition NFT collection that depicts the endangered Seychelles magpie robin. Each NFT is said to be a digital twin of a real-life bird, and the proceeds of the sales go towards funding initiatives that support conservation.
These kinds of NFTs have big potential in attracting millennials and Gen Zers, who are increasingly calling for travel and hospitality industry providers to become more sustainable and authentic.
The unique nature of NFTs has led to some wonderful innovations and in addition to the use cases explored today, there is plenty of potential for further applications involving the technology. As the technology matures, forward-thinking hospitality and travel industry organizations are leveraging NFTs as the basis of more creative experiences and perks for consumers. For any organization that’s looking to enhance revenue, create new business models and increase brand engagement and loyalty, NFTs are an extremely promising concept.
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