The term 'NFT' has been thrown around a lot in the past year – so what does it even mean, and how are they relevant to the hospitality industry? There are already plenty of creative ways to engage with NFTs, and we're only going to see more of this in the future. Keep reading to learn more.
The basics of crypto and blockchains
Before exploring NFTs and how they are being used in the hospitality industry, here is a quick explainer of cryptocurrency and blockchains (necessary for understanding how NFTs work). Feel free to keep scrolling if you already know!
Cryptocurrency (or crypto) is essentially a form of money which is stored on blockchains. A blockchain is a piece of software running on thousands of computers at the same time. It is a digital ledger (aka recording mechanism) which stores data on people transferring digital assets to one another, like money. Blockchain technology makes it possible for every transaction to be recorded and verified, making it a trustworthy way to directly move assets around. One of the major benefits of cryptocurrency is that it essentially cuts out the need for a bank to act as the middle-man between two parties when transferring money.
You've probably heard of the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, but there are many others. If we're comparing cryptocurrency to normal money, the different currencies like the Australian dollar would be the equivalent to different coins (such as Bitcoin). The second most popular cryptocurrency is Ethereum, which is the currency you'll usually need to trade NFTs, as many NFT marketplaces (like OpenSea and Rarible) run on the Ethereum blockchain.
So – WTF is an NFT?
'NFT' stands for Non-Fungible Token. It is essentially any digital artefact that is stored on a blockchain. Non-fungible means that it is unique, one-of-a-kind, and can't be replaced – much like the original Mona Lisa artwork. You can print copies of it, but only one person can own the original.
Because all transactions are recorded on their respective blockchains, it makes it easy for people to prove and authenticate ownership over a digital asset. People have sold art, music and even tweets as NFTs – some of them making a TON of money doing so.
NFTs x Hospitality
There are already some innovative ways people are using NFTs in the hospitality industry, and we’re only just starting to see the beginning of it.
Pizza Hut Canada released what they dubbed “the world’s first NFP (non-fungible pizza)” in 2021. Their '1 Byte Favourites' is an NFT series of pizza slice images. Their first digital ‘slice’ (pictured below) ended up being sold for $8,824 – a hefty price for a unique jpg that you can’t eat, if you ask me.
View the rest of Pizza Hut's NFT collection here
Taco Bell similarly released ‘NFTacoBells’ – a series of NFT gifs of tacos. They listed 5 different artworks, making 5 copies of each one available for people to buy, and they all sold out within 30 minutes.
View the rest of Taco Bell's NFT collection here
The popular Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs are a large collection of 10,000 different digital ape artworks. Owning one of these NFTs doubles as your ticket into the Yacht Club – an exclusive virtual club experience. I can't tell you what the club is like because I don't have a casual half a million dollars laying around (which is the MINIMUM you need to purchase one of these apes), but – hospitality in the Metaverse? It would have to be a pretty awesome experience for the cover charge to cost this much.
6 examples of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs
Beyond the digital realm, NFTs have started making their way into the physical world. Lion’s Milk café in New York recently became the first NFT-dedicated café, where you can have your coffee with a side of NFT. They have an ever-changing NFT gallery, and also accept payments in crypto.
Pictured below is an exclusive event based around the Fluffy Polar Bears NFT collection. These NFTs can be seen displayed on the walls of the café, and to be permitted entry patrons were required to prove their ownership of one of them. Using NFTs as tickets to events is a way in which the value of these digital assets can be translated to the real world.
Whether it's selling jpgs of food or hosting events where the ticket in is an NFT, there are some wildly creative ways the hospitality industry is getting involved with this new technology. Love it or hate it, we're only going to be seeing more of it as businesses innovate!
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