Even with all the news on NFTs and the metaverse, there is still a lot we don’t know about this world. That’s why for the first session of DayAway Dialogues—our series of conversations on the future of travel, hospitality and the experience economy—we took a step to help demystify NFTs, the metaverse and the Web3 future.
Our first session, Hotels and NFTs: A Match Made in the Metaverse, tackled the inevitable shift to Web3 and how it relates to the hospitality and luxury lifestyle space. Speakers included Dave Waslen, co-founder of Wilder World and Martha Waslen, DayAway’s founder & CEO; it was moderated by Jeroen Vaassen, a global hospitality leader who has held key roles at Starwood Hotels and Shangri-La, and currently the founder & CEO at Yerun.
Now why is it important for the hospitality industry to look into this now? Well, while the global luxury hotels and resorts industry is expected to be a 160 billion market by 2031, it pales greatly in comparison to the 8 trillion experience economy and the 13 trillion metaverse market opportunity. Here’s a summary of what our speakers shared in the insightful session, which you can watch in full here.
To get started in Web3, you need to go deep into that rabbit hole
Ask anyone who is in Web3 and they’ll likely say DYOR, which means “do your own research”. According to Dave Waslen, the question of how to get started and learn about Web3 is one that he gets asked daily. “It’s simple: read articles, watch YouTube videos and join online communities. You’ll find a trove of information and that’s the best way to start.”
For hotels in particular, it’s key to keep an open mind and get the right people in. “The most important thing that hotels at the property level should prioritise is education—educate themselves on the opportunities in Web3, either by dedicating somebody on the team to start doing this research or hiring someone to come in and help your team strategize about how to participate in this space,” says Martha Waslen.
The metaverse and Web3 is all about engaging communities and providing experiences
The most successful metaverse and NFT projects are those that build communities, and this is key for any Web 2 business venturing into Web3: Look to engage your communities in new ways and, of course, appeal to them with initiatives that tap into the growing experience economy.
“At DayAway, we are really focused on starting to expand to other hospitality-adjacent industries, working with airlines, luxury retail, private helicopter companies, private yacht companies, luxury brands to diversify the experiences that we can offer and also to potentially provide a wide variety of utilities to our DayAway community,” shares Martha.
The future of NFTs is utility, which goes beyond owning a digital asset
While the use of NFTs in the art space has widely been reported, it’s not just abou acquiring a cool digital art piece that you can use as your profile picture. The most valuable NFTs today are those that have strong communities, and that have relevance and utility in the real world.
During the session, Martha shared a preview of DayAway’s NFT drop called Genesis. “Genesis will be the first NFT of its kind providing in real life (IRL) utility and access to the world’s most luxurious hotels and branded virtual experiences. This is just one use case of how metaverse technology can be used to benefit our platform by helping us grow and engage our community faster.”
Membership in DayAway Genesis comes with various benefits, such as priority access to subsequent DayAway NFT drops, access to other luxury brand drops that come into our partnership portfolio, your own DayAway diamond concierge membership and a number of upgrades, membership club access, and priority privileges to select DayAway partners.
Web3 will help build brand awareness through virtual experiences
Web3 will revolutionise how guests discover, engage and build loyalty with hospitality and travel brands globally. Indeed, metaverse technology will dramatically change every step of the travel journey.
Before a trip, a guest’s discovery process would be through virtual experiences where they can engage with a hotel brand and its offerings before they even step onto the property. Then upon arrival, guests can then unlock exclusive experiences at the hotel through NFT-enabled membership.
When guests leave the hotel, imagine them taking a memento from the hotel stay in the form of a digital collectible NFT. They could also redeem loyalty points and incentives through an NFT-enabled marketplace after their stay. Extending the brand immersion even further, the same guest can access virtual wellness, culinary or art experiences post their stay.
Metaverse technology is a complementary tool, and not necessarily a replacement for real life
Metaverse technology, if utilised correctly, should enhance and complement the in real life (IRL) hospitality and travel experience, not try to replace it. It’s important to understand that the “metaverse” isn’t just about virtual reality and gamification—it includes NFT and blockchain technology that provide meaningful utility to hospitality, travel and adjacent industries to grow their communities, revolutionise customer experience and break barriers between fragmented loyalty programmes and inefficient legacy systems.
Hotels can dip their toe into the metaverse by doing bucket list initiatives
One interesting application is the “Bucket List”, an initiative that DayAway is working on now. This is a series of once-in-a-lifetime money can’t buy experiences that are auctioned off as one of one NFTs.
“We are in conversations with several high end auction houses who want to be our partner to auction off these NFTs. And we’re already in conversations with some of the world’s most iconic hotels about participating in this initiative. So what will be included in the bucket list, for each NFT will be of course the digital collectible designed by a world renowned digital artist. The NFT will also come with one GLB file of either the hotel’s signature suite designed in a 3D model or a virtual experience inspired by the hotel,” disclosed Martha.
Apart from being a unique proposition, this asset can be integrated into any metaverse project. The digital experience in and of itself holds value, but of course, the most exciting thing about this NFT is the once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can access in real life.
Web3 helps marketing become an asset and revenue generator, not a cost centre
Participating in smart Web3 initiatives transform marketing from an expense to an actual asset. NFTs serve as low cost, high ROI marketing initiatives that not only generate revenue because these NFTs will actually make money and can be traded. For DayAway, they will also drive demand for high-volume experiences at the base of our pyramid.
Make Web3 decisions that suit your business
There’s not much point in jumping on the bandwagon and launching Web3 initiatives that are not aligned with your business and brand. Martha stresses, “The other thing that hotels should start doing now is dig into the information to understand their community—what they want, how to better engage them and really how they can make Web3 work for their business. Don’t change your business. If it is Web3, figure out how it can better support your existing infrastructure, grow your community, but don’t be jumping into projects all over the place just to participate in the hype.”