Invest: Buy NFTs for discounted hotel stays

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I … don’t mind this?

It involves converting room nights for sale into nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, that can be bought or sold by hotel guests, similar to the StubHub market for concert and sporting event tickets. …

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.

NFTs as Access Tokens in Luxury Venice Hotel! - YouTube

I’m sorry? I probably should mind it. But I feel like I make fun of nonfungible token projects around here all the time so it’s worth acknowledging the ones that are, you know, fine.

See, I feel like the sophisticated answer here is something like, “Sure, it would be a house.” Like I think that what is interesting about the idea of a “non-fungible token” is the possibility of linking some non-fungible thing in the real world, or some non-fungible slice of some real-world thing, to some transferable digital representation. And there is a strand of crypto thinking that is like “we are going to build a new financial system that will take over the entire job of financing and paying for the real world,” and in this vein you need to think about ways to represent real economic activity. You want ways to digitize ownership of houses and factories and the contents of particular shipping containers and stuff like that.

And a lot of people who come to crypto with this way of thinking are like, well, we’ll start by building out the digital primitives first, and then we’ll figure out ways to associate them with real-world objects. So we’ll figure out a way to build and trade non-fungible tokens, starting with tokens that are just empty nonsense, but then once we have that technology, we can work on trading tokens that are not empty nonsense. So one day instead of getting the title to your house through some archaic title registry where you have to go down to the basement of a courthouse and leaf through ancient paper documents and figure out if there are liens on the house, it will all be on the blockchain and home sales will be easy and you can own a fraction of a home and get a mortgage instantly, etc., etc., etc. And I am not saying that I expect all that stuff to happen in the near term, but it is at least an interesting vision for something, and the concept of “non-fungible token” is part of it.

And that is more or less this. You have some class of not-quite-fungible things in the real world, reservations for particular dates in particular rooms of particular hotels. People want reservations mostly for normal consumption reasons, not for unhinged speculation, but (1) their plans might change, etc., so they might want to be able to resell them and (2) sure I guess you could speculate on the future price of hotel reservations, why not. So it is good to create a liquid secondary market for reservations: It is better for buyers than an alternative of nonrefundable reservations (because they can resell if their plans change), it is better for hotels than an alternative of freely refundable reservations (because they get certainty of income), and, who knows, it might attract a new class of buyers (hotel-room speculators, high-frequency hotel-room market makers, whatever).

Of course the hotels could just offer nonrefundable-but-transferable reservations; if I reserved a room and then sold it to you, we could call up the hotel and tell them that you’re coming in my place. But this could be an administrative hassle for the hotel; better for the hotel if some third party keeps track of the reservation, runs the marketplace, and just tells the hotel who is going to show up. Also having a third-party platform do it makes it easier for people to trade reservations across different hotels. You can cancel at one hotel and book at another, or maybe you are doing a complex arbitrage trade where you get long an ocean-view suite and hedge your risk by shorting three parking-lot singles, I don’t know. 

Of course you could build a trading platform for hotel reservations, sign up hotels and customers to use it, and skip the entire concept of an “NFT.” (Like StubHub, which is a platform for trading tickets, not NFTs “of” tickets.) The platform could keep a centralized database of reservations (by arrangement with the hotels), you could trade by going through the platform, you don’t need a blockchain. But there are some commonly asserted advantages to a blockchain that might be relevant here. If the hotel reservations are NFTs on a blockchain instead of just entries in Pinktada’s database, then in theory other people could build competing trading platforms for the same reservations, or you could sell your reservation-NFT off the platform. Or competitors could act as market makers on Pinktada’s platform and be able to compete on equal terms. An open permissionless decentralized blockchain might be good for hotel-room liquidity, which I suppose is the goal here.

Pinktada's platform uses Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) to bring flexibility to  travelers and value to hotels - CoinQuora

I am not sure that’s what’s actually happening! Certainly in the early stages “Pinktada has a database” is not really different from “Pinktada has a blockchain.” Still at a conceptual level I don’t think this is a bad use of NFTs. Certainly not compared to all the other uses of NFTs.

The other advantage of this is that, at least as of a few months ago, crypto people had a lot of money and wanted to blow it on NFTs, so selling them an NFT of a hotel stay might be more lucrative than just selling them the hotel stay:

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 soon begin booking rooms with NFTs.

Just don’t let them pay for room service with TerraUSD.