NFT travel marketing and promotional opportunities are an emerging trend, disrupting all aspects of the travel industry, including hotels, airlines, restaurants and entertainment venues. In this article, you can find out about what NFTs are, how the technology works and the various ways these tokens are being used by businesses.
- What Is a Non-Fungible Token (NFT)?
- NFT Travel Marketing and the Metaverse
- Why Should NFTs Become Marketing Tools for the Travel Industry?
- How to Incorporate NFTs in Marketing for Travel Businesses
- 6 Examples of Travel Brands Embracing NFT Travel Marketing
- Blockchain Technology and NFT Travel Marketing
- Understanding Digital Travel Industry Trends
What Is a Non-Fungible Token (NFT)?
A non-fungible token, otherwise known as an NFT, is a digital asset, which exists on the blockchain, and which cannot be duplicated. Essentially, each NFT is a cryptographic token, which represents a unique digital item. This then allows digital content, including artwork, photographs, audio files and videos, to be sold as unique items.
Using the example of artwork, physical art can be sold to buyers and original work from an artist can hold significant value. Traditionally, this has been difficult to recreate with digital work, because digital files can be easily copied. NFTs provide a solution to this, as each NFT is entirely unique.
The description of these tokens being ‘non-fungible’ means that they cannot be traded at an equivalent value, which is how an NFT differs from other cryptographic assets, like cryptocurrency. NFT travel marketing is an emerging field within the travel industry, where businesses utilise NFT technology to achieve marketing goals.
NFT Travel Marketing and the Metaverse
Before getting deeper into the topic of NFT travel marketing, it is important to understand how NFTs can fit into the concept of the metaverse. A simple summary of the metaverse would be the creation of virtual worlds, where social interactions occur, often powered by virtual reality, augmented reality, or similar technology.
Many travel and tourism brands are experimenting with the concept of the metaverse, providing customers with virtual spaces to share with one another, facilitating online trade shows or business meetings, or participating in existing metaverse virtual worlds. NFTs can also play a role here, allowing for the sale of in-game items, or virtual real estate.
Read “Metaverse Tourism: Overview, Benefits, Examples and More” to gain further insights into the metaverse in travel and tourism, the connection between the metaverse and NFTs, and examples of the metaverse in action.
Why Should NFTs Become Marketing Tools for the Travel Industry?
To fully understand the potential for NFT travel marketing, it is worth taking a glance at the success of NFTs in general. This can be best highlighted by the fact that total NFT sales increased by more than 21,000 per cent between 2020 and 2021, with the total value of sales rising from $82.5 million to over $17 billion.
Most early NFT transactions were based around the sale of collectable digital items, such as original artwork, original music files, and even original Tweets from celebrities. However, over time, the NFT craze has expanded beyond this, and this expansion has given rise to the sale of NFTs that have functional applications.
The travel industry is ideally placed to capitalise on both the collectable and functional NFT categories. The sale of NFTs can generate headlines for businesses, highlight brand values and creativity, and serve as promotional items. Yet, NFT technology can also be used to power customer loyalty programmes, exclusive club memberships, and more.
How to Incorporate NFTs in Marketing for Travel Businesses
NFTs are one of the emerging travel marketing trends, but businesses need to make intelligent use of the technology. In this section, you can find some examples of how NFTs can be used to boost your marketing strategy.
One of the best ways to capitalise on NFT marketing for those working in travel businesses, including the hotel industry, is to partner with established or emerging digital art creators. This can then result in the creation of unique digital artwork, which can either be sold or given away in competitions.
The way this will usually work as an NFT travel marketing strategy is as follows: the business contacts an artist and commissions a piece, often based on the theme of travel or a specific marketing strategy. The artist then creates the artwork and the business sells the NFT or gives the NFT away while attempting to attract media interest.
Among the most innovative NFT travel uses so far have been NFT-powered customer rewards programmes. Many businesses in the travel industry already run customer loyalty schemes, which aim to reward frequent customers or customers who make referrals to friends and family, but actually managing all of this data can be a challenge.
However, individual customers can instead be issued an NFT, which contains their customer records. This helps to create a unique entry for each customer, with all of the relevant data stored securely. The digital file the customer is given can then be used to check in to hotels or restaurants or claim loyalty points on a transaction.
Finally, an exciting new NFT travel opportunity is focused on the creation of new ownership models or fundraising practices based on NFT technology. For instance, hotels, restaurants and cafes might opt to sell part of their property, and the ownership can be symbolised and recorded through the sale of an NFT.
Businesses might opt to sell a series of NFT shares, allowing those in the local community to have an attachment to the property and an interest in its success. Alternatively, the sale of other NFT content could be used as a means of generating capital quickly, which can be important for hotels, restaurants, and those in the airline industry.
6 Examples of Travel Brands Embracing NFT Travel Marketing
Although NFT travel marketing is still a relatively new phenomenon, some of the leading brands are already beginning to capitalise on all that it has to offer. The sections below will provide you with information on some of the companies that are making use of this travel technology and the ways in which they have embraced it.
Travala is an online travel booking platform and the world’s leading blockchain-based online travel agency. The platform is perhaps most notable for selling travel products from more than 90,000 destinations to customers who wish to pay using cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, in addition to more traditional methods, like credit and debit cards.
The brand’s involvement with blockchain technology made it ideally placed to capitalise on NFT travel marketing and it has done so with its ‘Travel Tiger’ club. Whitelisted members are able to purchase a unique NFT and use it as the key to access unique ‘Smart Diamond’ rewards, including discounts, bonuses, prize drops, and reward points.
Video: Book hotels with Bitcoin on Travala.com
Marriott International have a history of capitalising on the latest travel trends, and they became one of the first hotel brands to utilise NFT technology when they entered into a partnership with three digital artists, TXREK, JVY, and Erick Nicolay, in order to create artwork based on a Marriott marketing campaign.
The campaign itself was about the ‘Power of Travel’ and the artists were asked to create digital art connected to this concept. Once the artwork was created, the three pieces were given away as prizes by Marriott as part of the Art Basel Miami Beach 2021 event, generating goodwill, while attracting media headlines and helping the artists.
AirBaltic is a Latvian airline, which attracted significant media attention when it launched its NFT travel marketing campaign. This also served as a way of promoting some of Latvia’s cities as tourist destinations.
In 2021, the airline created a range of collectable NFT art tokens featuring these cities and sold them to customers via an auction. Then, in 2022, the airline announced the expansion of its NFT strategy, with the release of ‘Planies’ – NFT tokens that will serve as collectables and tie into the brand’s customer loyalty programme.
The Flyfish Club restaurant is a members-only private dining club, located in New York City, which promotes itself as the world’s first NFT restaurant. It is also regarded as a pioneer in the NFT travel marketing space because the membership card for the restaurant is issued as a non-fungible token.
Membership tokens can only be purchased using the cryptocurrency Ether, further strengthening the brand’s connection to blockchain technology and cryptographic assets. Access to the restaurant is strictly restricted to NFT holders only, and the NFT is used to physically access the premises. With that being said, members are permitted to lease their NFT membership card to family or friends or re-sell the membership token on the second-hand market.
The Dream Hollywood Hotel is one of the most popular hotels in Los Angeles, California, and is also now ahead of the curve when it comes to creating an NFT travel marketing strategy.
The hotel partnered with The Crypt Gallery in order to become the first hotel in the world to host an NFT art exhibition in its lobby. The exhibition features NFT digital art, which is displayed physically in the same way you would display art in an art gallery. At the same time, the exhibition also educates visitors about NFT technology and how it works.
Finally, the Ca’ Di Dio hotel is located in Venice, Italy, and is a new hotel, which is aimed at guests who are seeking a sense of luxury. The hotel also attracted press attention through a unique NFT travel marketing approach.
Prior to the hotel opening its doors for the first time, the brand utilised the OpenSea NFT marketplace to auction off a non-fungible token. Aside from serving as a one-of-a-kind collectable, this NFT provided the winner with the opportunity to experience a night in the hotel alone, before other guests were allowed to visit.
The concept of NFT travel marketing is inextricably linked to blockchain technology, but senior figures in the travel industry need to understand that uses of blockchain technology extend further. For instance, blockchain can be used for secure payments, customer loyalty schemes, and check-in identification services.
Read “How Blockchain Technology is Transforming the Travel Industry” for a complete overview of how blockchain technology works, how it can benefit the travel industry and some specific examples of its uses.
Understanding Digital Travel Industry Trends
NFT travel opportunities are increasing all the time, but the use of non-fungible tokens for marketing and customer relationship management purposes is just one of the major digital trends to be aware of. Other examples include the use of fingerprint and retina recognition, investment in robots, and the deployment of artificial intelligence.
Take a look at the “Key Digital Trends in the Tourism and Travel Industry” article to find out more about the digital trends mentioned, along with many more, and the role that each of these trends can play.
NFT travel marketing is still in its infancy, but as NFT technology and its use cases expand, promotional activities of this kind are likely to become more widespread. Aside from the collectable component, NFTs can also be used to help manage customer loyalty programmes or exclusive memberships, and even to sell travel products and services.