Some resort owners think they have found a way to avoid getting stuck with excess inventory when guests cancel at the last minute.
It involves converting room nights for sale into nonfungible tokensor NFTs, that can be bought or sold by hotel guests, similar to the StubHub market for concert and sporting event tickets.
Owners say this ensures they get paid for the rooms because guests would sell their reservation in the market if they decide not to go, and appeal to the crypto-enthusiastic traveler.
“We can reach another consumer that maybe isn’t booking through traditional means,” said Jason Kycek, senior vice president with Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, a Dominican Republic resort, who is planning to begin booking rooms with NFTs soon.
Casa de Campo has signed with the startup Pinktada, which recently launched a booking system that includes hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico, San Francisco and Hawaii.
Hotel guests can reserve rooms at those properties by buying NFTs through Pinktada. By using this system, guests can book a room at a discount to what the hotel would charge for a refundable reservation.
The sale is final from the point of view of hotel owners, so their revenue is guaranteed whether or not the room is used. If travelers change plans, they can use the tokens for other Pinktada hotels or sell them to another traveler in the Pinktada network.
Pinktada (the name is a reference to a type of pearl oyster) promises to be the buyer-of-last resort if another traveler doesn’t buy it.
“You give hotel owners certainty of income, but give travelers the flexibility if their plans change to sell or swap tokens,” said Mark Gordon, Pinktada’s co-founder and chief hospitality officer.
Another startup using NFTs is Stay Open, which converts unused retail and office space into hostel-like lodgings. Stay Open earlier this spring began selling 10,000 NFTs for one-tenth of an ethereum coin each, partly to raise capital for adding new locations.
Each NFT includes one “stay token” for a free night at Stay Open’s one existing lodging in Venice Beach, Calif., or others the company plans to open. NFT holders also get tokens to use Stay Open’s co-working space and other benefits.
Token owners can use them, give them as gifts or sell them, said Steve Shpilsky, Stay Open’s co-founder and chief executive. If demand is hot in the local lodging market “you could even make some money,” he said.
NFTs, which live on the blockchain like cryptocurrencies, made headlines last year when digital pieces sold for eye-popping amounts, such as $69 million for a collage named “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” and $2.9 million for the first tweet from
co-founder Jack Dorsey.
This year, the volume of NFT sales has fallen sharply along with the highly speculative cryptocurrency market, which has been hammered by rising interest rates. But many artists and startups remain enthusiastic for NFTs especially those with utilities such as hotel reservations.
In the real-estate industry, NFTs also are being used by groups to raise capital to buy golf courses or land, giving token buyers a stake in the projects. And NFTs are being used by metaverse businesses to sell digital land in virtual worlds such as Sandbox and Decentraland.
A growing number of proptech startups backed by Fifth Wall, one of the largest real estate venture-capital companies, are exploring the use of NFTs, said Dan Wenhold, a Fifth Wall partner. “This is a conversation that’s coming up more routinely in board meetings,” he said.
Some hotel owners might be reluctant to sell reservations in the form of NFTs that could be resold for fear of not knowing the identity of their guests, according to some participants in the hotel industry. Pinktada said it addressed this concern by only allowing its members, who sign up for free, to participate in its marketplace, and making membership data available to owners.
Noble House Hotels & Resorts, a hotel management company, has signed with Pinktada so travelers can use it to make reservations in its two San Francisco hotels, the Argonaut Hotel and Hotel Zoe.
“This is somewhat uncharted territory,” said Stefan Muhle, the region’s managing director. “We’re just as curious as anyone to see how it’s going to shake out.”
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