Hotel Bookings on the Blockchain: Could a Stay Become the Next Hot Commodity?

In an effort to increase revenue and occupancy rates, some hotels are now converting bookings into tradable NFTs.

How Hotels are Converting Stays into NFTs
NoMo SoHo's NFTstays feature an NFT that depicts a recognizable part of the hotel including the Lovewall in NoMo Kitchen and “The Tunnel of Love,” the archway at the main entrance (pictured).
Photo: Courtesy of NoMo SoHo

Like a lot of companies, hotel brands are starting to look for ways to add non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into their existing marketing strategy and on-site operations, including working with cryptocurrency companies to turn bookings into NFTs.

Despite the current slowdown in crypto markets and a decline in NFT sales, brands are still hopping on the tech trend in hopes that it will pay off in the end.

“We identified this emerging technology a couple of years ago and knew it was only a matter of time before we saw startups enter the hospitality space,” explained Jason Kycek, the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas. The property—located in Dominican Republic—recently announced a partnership with Pinktada, a membership-based hotel marketing and reservation platform that allows guests to reserve rooms with transferrable room night tokens (RNTs) using blockchain technology.

Approached by Pinktada during the development stages of the platform, Casa de Campo “quickly aligned with them,” Kycek said. “We did not necessarily have any direct demand from guests inquiring to book or travel with us utilizing blockchain and NFT technology at the time, however, we had seen an increase in comments and overall dialogue of our guests on property discussing the crypto, blockchain, and NFT industry.”

How Hotels are Converting Stays into NFTsCasa de Campo Resort & Villas partnered with Pinktada, a membership-based hotel marketing and reservation platform that allows guests to reserve rooms using blockchain technology.Screenshot: Courtesy of PinktadaBy booking a stay through Pinktada, guests can access discounted room rates for the property’s Superior Casitas and Elite Rooms. For example, users can book the Superior Double Casita with two double beds for $179 a night from Sept. 6-8 via Pinktada. The same room on the hotel website currently goes for $247 a night.

Users can also view a 3D experience of the room and its amenities, as well as virtually tour Casa de Campo’s restaurants, pools, golf courses, shooting ranges, and equestrian centers. Pinktada users also receive a custom, commemorative NFT of their stay.

As for the advantages to using the platform, Kycek said that “on the hotel side, [Pinktada is] delivering guaranteed non-refundable revenue” as well as a proprietary interface that’s “unlike anything the existing [online travel agents] platforms currently provide,” which, he added, "allows us to offer our guests greater flexibility, online experience, and guaranteed revenue.”

Once a room is booked, it is commoditized and converted into an RNT (think of it like an NFT), Kycek explained. Guests are then able to swap, trade, or sell back their RNT on the Pinktada exchange. “It’s a win-win for all parties,” he said.

So instead of refunding a cancellation, which most hotels charge a fee to do, the RNT holder would be responsible for selling the room—almost like a StubHub for hotels. This, of course, raises the question: Would a secondary market like this encourage scalpers to book rooms and re-sell them at a higher price, similar to what happened to the sports and concert industries? With only a handful of hotels and platforms currently offering this service, it’s still too early to tell what the ramifications might be.

Also, could this concept be used to book a meeting or event space at a hotel? Possibly, but contracts already state predetermined rates, with bookings occurring months—and sometimes years—in advance. Plus legal clauses and force majeure typically cover terms of cancellation. But perhaps in the future, event planners could be securing blocks of rooms for corporate retreats and the like using blockchain technology.

In June, NoMo SoHo debuted a comparable concept using digital marketplace platform SolidBlock. Called NFTstays, the hotel packages include three- to six-night stays at the 26-story, 264-room downtown Manhattan property. Guests booking these packages have access to preferred rates, with pricing starting at .41 ETH, which, at launch, was valued at $836. The current value is $673.

Holders of NFTstays are granted perks such as late check-out, complimentary breakfast, and a welcome amenity, and aren’t beholden to a specific date, unlike Casa de Campo’s RNTs. But the NFTs do need to be redeemed within 12 months of purchase, and blackout dates apply.

NoMo SoHo’s owner, the global real estate and investment firm Sapir, recently sold a condominium in its luxury oceanfront boutique property in Surfside, Miami, for $22.5 million using cryptocurrency. That success spurred the idea to allow hotel guests to book NFTstays at the NYC location. “Since our most recent launch, we have sold 25 of our available NFTstays, and we expect this number to increase as the interest in the service continues to grow,” said Sharon Raz, the CEO of Sapir Corp Ltd.How Hotels Are Converting Stays into NFTsIn July, luxury oceanfront resort Viceroy Los Cabos (rooftop pictured) debuted its Digital Art & Dinner Club in partnership with Leales NFT. The art and loyalty program supports the community of local artists, while offering members access to hybrid events.Photo: Courtesy of Viceroy Los Cabos

Meanwhile, in July, Viceroy Los Cabos, a luxury oceanfront resort in San José Del Cabo, Mexico, debuted its Digital Art & Dinner Club. In partnership with Leales NFT, a Los Cabos-based crypto consultancy, the art and loyalty program supports the community of local artists, while offering members access to hybrid events. To become a member, guests need to purchase an NFT of artwork from featured creators, with three membership tiers—Charter, Gold, or VIP—available. Perks include discounts up to 25%, complimentary drinks and meals, and entrance into giveaways for stays of various durations.

“Statistics tell us that a growing segment of our guest population is very interested in the trend of NFTs and want the luxury travel sector to offer blockchain and crypto-based opportunities,” explained Peter Bowling, regional managing director at Viceroy Los Cabos, about the decision to launch the NFT initiative. “In Los Cabos, the team is embracing the opportunity and knows we are pushing the boundaries forward for the brand and incorporating a new offering that is already showing early signs of interest and success.”

During the kick-off party, which took place July 27, the hotel issued and sold 15 memberships. A full-scale traditional marketing campaign is slated to begin mid-August, with a full minting schedule starting in late September. A total of 3,210 memberships will be available for sale.

“We believe this is the first step for us as an organization to learn how to walk before we run,” Bowling said about the potential further utilization of NFT tech at the property. “We will be evaluating all ways we can use this new technology as we evolve our initiative … The possibilities with NFTs are endless, and we won’t be too quick to rule out using NFTs for many purposes.”

Brice Jones, the co-founder and CEO of Freehold Hospitality, which recently began accepting crypto as payment at its 10,000-square-foot Miami location and hosting tech-friendly happy hours, said he believes the crypto space has been “an underserved area in hospitality,” but cautions against jumping on the bandwagon without the right intentions.

“I personally think the NFT market, when coming to hospitality, will need to focus on real functional value," he said. "The NFT itself can be beautifully designed and art- or trend-driven, but the essence will have to have material value for consumers—whether it be access to a VIP section at a nightclub, a room block that is only open to those NFT holders, or maybe access to a concert. We’re already seeing some of the major boutique hoteliers offer similar concepts, so we’re excited to see what’s next.”

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