Last updated August 3, 2022
The buzz on blockchain technology can be heard around the world these days. So it is no wonder that it eventually made its way to the travel industry.
Before we dive into those specifics and get our NFT wallets (or passports) ready, let’s back it up a few steps and talk about some basics.
What is Blockchain Technology?
First things first. What is blockchain technology? Blockchain technology is a digital ledger that stores data of any kind. It consists of records that are called “blocks.” These blocks are used to record the transactions.
Without getting too techie here (and for the sake of keeping it related to travel), imagine a blockchain a bit like a passport. Your passport contains a stamp from each country you have visited. This global-entry book is also a record book where all of your travel transactions have been recorded.
What are NFTs?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a digital asset that is transacted and stored on the blockchain.
NFTs can range from photos, videos, utility tokens, to sound clips. They can even represent real-world items. Two examples of these real-world items are real estate and artwork.
An NFT’s piece of data is stored within the ledger. Ledger is an online service that allows users to safely manage their NFTs. The Ledger can run on a variety of blockchains. This includes the mainstage Ethereum platform, Solana, Polygon, Tezos and Cardano (just to name a few).
What Makes NFTs Special?
What makes NFTs so special is that they are indestructible, unique and verifiable.
In this context, indestructible means that NFTs are stored on the blockchain and cannot be destroyed, removed or replicated. Unique (or non-fungible) means that NFTs cannot be replicated and ownership resides with the buyer. NFTs are not just given the rights to usage.
Moreover, NFTs are verifiable. They are verifiable because they can be traced back to the creator via smart contracts. Smart contracts is a feature in which all transactions on blockchain technology are recorded.
NFTs, Travel and Passports
Still with me? Good. Let’s go back to the metaphor of travel and passports. As was previously explained, the NFTs are like the stamps you receive upon entering into other countries. Which actually could be a pretty interesting NFT.
Let’s create and move forward!
How Does Blockchain Technology Relate to Travel?
It is no exaggeration that most NFTs are related to art, games and the ever-expanding Metaverse. In spite of this, there are also a number of NFTs for travel. Hospitality brands have caught wind of this. In fact, they are already testing the waters.
Hospitality Brands That Are Utilizing NFTs
Marriott Bonvoy launched their first NFT Collection during Art Basel Miami Beach 2021. Winners in the collection received a piece of art along with member points.
Fun fact: The Dream Hollywood hotel is the first hotel to host an NFT gallery.
AirBaltic is the world’s first airline to issue NFTs. They started issuing NFTs by releasing a limited collection of NFTs to boost tourism in Latvia. All in all, artists showcasing travel NFTs are also another entry point into the blockchain and tourism space.
NFTs Are Still New
There is so much more we can dive into about what is currently being done and what can be done. Be that as it may, it is important to note that it’s all still so new. NFTs really are an open game for opportunity. An opportunity in which one can take NFTs and create with NFTs.
What are the Current Challenges Blockchain Technology and Travel are Facing?
As with every new opportunity and technology, there are also challenges that accompany it. Regulations and standards are just one facet of it. However, the biggest conversation around blockchain technology and tourism is the environmental toll that NFTs are known to have.
NFT “gas fees” are at a staggering high. This is because of minting on the blockchain Ethereum. As a result, a space has been created for many people to point out the environmental harm. They argue that the environmental harm coming from NFTs is even worse for the planet than travel itself.
Minting (verb): to make (coins or money) out of metal.
Back it up a step. In short, gas fees are what users must pay in order to perform any function blockchain. Specifically, Ethereum.
That being said, there are quite a few other options for minting NFTs that require little to no gas fees, with more options becoming available as this is a major disadvantage and concern with increasing the usage of blockchain.
The Ethereum Merge
The Ethereum Merge (going from proof of work to proof of stake) is set to go live during 2022. The Merge will put concerns about environmental toll on expended energy to rest. This will be done with the help of the current proof or work mining.
In addition to Ethereum, there are other more sustainable platforms for minting NFTs. These include platforms such as Polygon, Tezos, Cardano and Aspire.
What Opportunities Lie Ahead?
It’s still too new to map out all of the opportunities for NFTs and travel. However, it is safe to say that the global reach for immediate transactions will reduce the need for a middle person (including banks). Instead of a middle person micro-managing our transactions, we are able to do these things. Tracking and tracing payments. Making them more secure. Constantly checking our account the same way we constantly hover the stock market tab at work.
What About Tourism?
Without a doubt, there is certainly a base level function and role for NFTs and blockchain technology in the tourism category.
Beyond its basic function, the possibilities are endless. Visualize yourself buying a membership in cryptocurrency to attend your next wellness retreat via an NFT token. This NFT token gives you travel benefits similar to Triple A, Capital One, or Fidelity. Your token grants you access to numerous destination attractions. You can dip in and out of any resort within a resort brand.
Or checking out of your New York office to take a lunch break in Thailand. Perhaps joining in on a meditation session in the Metaverse after a yoga session in Spain? All within the hour. Yes, I see that as a possibility… some day.
This is a lot to pour into one article. If you take anything from all of this tech and travel newness, understand on a high-level what NFTs and blockchain technology are. Be cognizant of the many potential opportunities that lie ahead within the travel sector. Keep an eye out for these and don’t hesitate to experience them!
Let’s open the conversation. What have you heard so far about NFTs or blockchain? Have you seen any instances in the travel sector yet in your searches or adventures?
Read some more Travel Trends articles:
- What to Wear on a Wellness Retreat: Athleisure to the Rescue
- Why Wellness Is the Next Big Thing in Luxury Travel
- 5 Wellness Travel Highlights from the Global Wellness Summit
- 5 Dreamy Destinations According to Travel Experts
- Boost Your Creativity at a Mental Wellness Camp
We believe that travel has the power to change lives. The power to revive, rejuvenate and redirect the inner self. That’s why we’re here. Take an online staycation with us. Change how you think about travel and let us make it easier for you to search, discover, and book wellness and active vacations. But we don’t stop there. We are with you every step of the way—before, during and after your journey—to make sure you enjoy the most meaningful vacation ever. It’s Travel That Moves You.