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NFTs + Hospitality: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

When a brand successfully uses NFTs to create memorable moments and unique guest experiences, it will automatically stand out among competitors.
NFTS at Dream Hotel Downtown NYC
Dream Downtown | Kenny Hayden

King of Midtown, an early collector and leader in the NFT space, envisioned bringing the NFT digital marketplace to an in-person location and experience embedded within normal social and cultural practices. For King of Midtown, hospitality – and specifically Dream Hotel Group – was the ideal partner for an In Real Life (IRL) NFT gallery. The epicenter of nightlife, restaurants, rooftops, travel, international guests, corporate events and more, the exposure and foot traffic hotels offer are unmatched. Dream Hotel properties have specifically been prominent leaders in the industry, accentuating the importance of bringing people together through art, design, and culture.

This led to the establishment of The Crypt Gallery, the world’s first NFT gallery in the hospitality industry. Originally launching in Los Angeles at Dream Hollywood in July 2021, The Crypt Gallery officially opened one of the largest permanent NFT galleries in the world in June 2022, at Dream Downtown. This New York City location consists of more than 70 digital canvases, while simultaneously showcasing and representing physical artwork.

Working alongside Dream Hotel Group, The Crypt Gallery aims to grow the digital art ecosystem, educate a larger audience, and utilize NFTs to benefit everyone involved.

(Check out the video below to see an overview of this gallery.)


Branding + Marketing: Selecting Your PFP

Within the last year, many brands have sought to associate themselves with the term NFT so as to be thought of as innovative, progressive, modern, edgy, and in tune to both today and tomorrow’s consumers. Going beyond this initial interpretation, however, NFTs prove even more powerful for brand association and marketing when we understand that they are a cultural movement, still in its infancy.

Encompassing all industries including art, tech, fashion, music, film and gaming, it is undeniable that NFTs are the future and will eventually influence how society engages with all these various disciplines. And those involved early will be branded the Renaissance leaders of tomorrow.

An organic introduction to NFTs for hospitality brands is through art, something hotels have always invested into heavily. The Crypt Gallery exemplifies how digital art can be strategically and tastefully embedded within high traffic areas throughout the hotel property. Benefits include the ability to display a constantly rotating curation of artwork, without the restrictions that physical art imposes. Digital canvases give hotels the ability to amplify their current art approach from curating artwork for specific events or holiday seasons to dedicated artist takeovers.

The other key factor of digital art is the easy transition and initiation for guests unfamiliar with NFTs. Regardless of prior knowledge or education, guests of all ages and backgrounds can appreciate and enjoy the artwork. By designing ‘Instagrammable’ showcases and curating according to guest demographic, user generated content is one main marketing strategy. When guests capture footage on property, post across social media platforms, and tag the hotel, gallery and artists, global and instantaneous visibility is reached.

And don’t forget the power of customer experience marketing. Based on the ideology that consumers do not necessarily pay for services or product, but for the experience, utilizing NFTs is a revolutionary way to create memorable moments, unique guest experiences and to help stand out amongst competitors. Implementing this strategy at Dream Downtown, The Crypt Gallery offers all guests the opportunity to claim a free NFT by simply holding their phone over a chip embedded within one of the display areas. This technology allows only in-person guests to access the NFT through an email sign up, without needing a digital wallet or cryptocurrency. Removing all barriers that would prevent participation, redeemable assets are curated and customized to target events and incentivize in person attendance. These experiences can be strategically adjusted to best market the hospitality group, such as embedding the brand into the NFT or distributing it to guests courtesy of the hotel.

Aside from creating a unique and unforgettable physical experience, the implementation of NFTs also draws in a completely new and global audience. Targeting a major event week, The Crypt Gallery hosted a two day launch party at Dream Downtown during NFT NYC. Attracting more than 700 guests in just the first evening, popular artists, collectors and communities were in attendance, many even booking accommodations on property.

Dream Downtown became one of the physical hubs during this NFT week, and both the gallery and the hotel also gained massive online exposure and international following. For individuals already in the NFT community, Dream Hotel Group became the preferred hotel brand to book with when traveling.

Community Building + Brand Loyalty: How Not to Rug

NFTs are not just a vessel to build brand awareness, but brand engagement, community and loyalty. Aside from displaying digital artworks, hospitality groups can strategically implement NFTs into operational aspects including memberships or reward programs. Similar to credit card companies that reward spending through cash back and points, hotels can reward guests with tokens that can be redeemed for discounted stays, complimentary drinks or access to exclusive on-property events. For example, guests may have the ability to claim a token for every night booked on property. Similar to the relatively extinct arcades, tiered prizes and perks could be redeemed for a specific number of tokens. Ideally, guests would be incentivized to travel and book accommodations within the same hotel chain, building their collection to unlock better rewards. When redeeming, tokens would be sent back to the hotel and ‘burned’ to ensure they are not reused.

Aside from gamifying and encouraging brand loyalty, tokens can also be used to collect crucial data and provide a method for information redistribution. If each hotel property has a specific monthly token, for example, trends and travel patterns can be traced and associated to individuals. When redeeming rewards, repeated or popular perks may reveal information on what consumers find appealing.

Similar to the launch of Dream Hollywood’s Social Club, memberships are another application in which NFTs can be used. Releasing tokens that serve as both artworks and with built-in exclusive utility, hotels can further strengthen their network across property locations and maximize guest experience, while communicating directly with consumers.

Getting Started + Organic Growth: The Roadmap

With so many opportunities and potential applications, a common question arises: Where do we even start?

Like many collectors in the space, including the King himself, start small and start simple. NFT implementation in a market and consumer base that isn’t ready will only lead to a negative trajectory, difficult to recover and reimplement. As the journey organically unfolds, so will the increase in momentum and education among both guests and staff.

As previously mentioned, using art as the initial hook and onboarding ramp is a tactful method to familiarize your current audience, while also expanding to a much larger Web3 community. Eventually, NFT guest experiences can be scaled to other areas and activations on property, organically embedded while creating memorable experiences. Pivoting into larger NFT applications, such as booking accommodations, accepting cryptocurrency, deploying a rewards program or membership, and even building into the metaverse are all milestones in the roadmap that can be added when timing is appropriate.

A key component of Web3, and something The Crypt Gallery heavily advocates for, is building organically to create lasting and genuine outcomes.

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