Globetrender speaks with Jason Kycek, senior vice-president at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, about the debut of its NFT ‘room night tokens’ and how they will benefit guests in the Web3 era.
What is Casa de Campo Resort & Villas?
“Casa de Campo Resort & Villas is the first and most exclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. We have been a luxury destination for discerning travellers, homeowners, dignitaries and celebrities who are seeking privacy, security, elegant surroundings and world-class activities for almost 50 years.
“A private gated community, we have more than 7,000 tropical acres on the south-eastern coast of the island. We have eight restaurants including the Minitas Beach Club, as well as a 370-slip Marina and Yacht Club, an Equestrian and Polo Centre, a 245-acre Clay Shooting Course, world-leading Pete-Dye golf courses (including Teeth of the Dog, one of the best in the Caribbean and Latin America), tennis courts and private white sand beaches.
“Holidaymakers also get to be part of a community because Casa de Campo has over 2,300 homes on-site, which creates a unique opportunity for guests and homeowners to mingle together.
“One of our most prized assets is Altos de Chavón, a 16th-century Mediterranean-style village with restaurants, shops, a church and stunning views. Guests can also sign up for pottery, traditional loom weaving and screen-printing lessons, see exhibitions at our art gallery, and access to our archaeological museum that features a collection of indigenous objects that tell the early history of the Dominican Republic. Altos de Chavón also features a 5,000-seat amphitheatre, inaugurated by Frank Sinatra 40 years ago.”
You have recently announced the launch of NFT ‘room night tokens’. What are they?
“‘Room-night tokens’ (RNTs) represent a pioneering new way of harnessing non-fungible tokens (NFT) for the hospitality industry. We have partnered with leading NFT-specialist, Pinktada, which has created a unique membership-based platform, architected on blockchain technology, to totally change the way hotel reservations are made.
“We are very proud to have been the very first property to sign up to this new and rapidly growing technology. Through our innovative partnership, Casa de Campo’s guests can now reserve rooms with fully transferable RNTs, as well as view our amenities and accommodations before booking via virtual tours.
“Whether they are beginners or well-versed in NFTs, guests will appreciate the ease of use, unique benefits, personalised tokens, and cutting-edge technology in booking rooms that convert to room-night tokens (RFTs) that the guest ultimately owns.”
How do the RNTs work?
“When guests purchase transferable RNTs to reserve rooms through our partner Pinktada, they will have access to the most competitive rates on all of our luxury hotel rooms, suites and villas, combined with the flexibility to sell back or swap reservation tokens if there is a change in plans.
“This allows our guests to take advantage of special rates that hotels normally only make available to fixed bookings but, crucially, without any of the risk, as they will have the option to sell or swap their RNTs if they need to.
“It is a revolutionary new concept and will undoubtedly be disruptive to the industry. From the hotel’s operational perspective, this new technology allows us to offer our customers greater flexibility, with the added benefit of having guaranteed revenue. It’s a win-win for all parties.
“At the end of their time at Casa de Campo, guests who have booked their holiday with RNTs will receive a commemorative NFT, customised with memories of their stay at our resort.”
Tell us more about the 3D interface and virtual tours. What can guests expect to see?
“The immersive 3D experience that Pinktada’s user interface allows guests to explore the precise features and amenities of each of our rooms and suites, and choose the accommodations that are perfect for them before making a booking. They can also virtually tout our facilities. By filming every element of Casa de Campo and creating the opportunity to explore our resort digitally, these 3D tours allow guests to ‘try before they buy’.”
What was the inspiration and the motivation for this launch?
“I have long held the belief that blockchain technology’s potential for the hospitality industry is huge and had been looking for ways that Casa de Campo could make use of these developments to innovate and improve our service delivery for guests.
“However, it wasn’t until I met the team from Pinktada that I felt we had landed on something truly transformational, and that had the potential to be the next ‘Expedia-moment’ for our industry.”
What does this mean for the future of hotel reservations and for your guests?
“The RNT innovations herald a new era of reservations that can serve the best interests of all parties in the transaction process. The new model ensures that hotels can retain the business benefits that would traditionally come from securing a guaranteed booking and revenue, whilst also delivering the best ‘non-flexible’ booking rates to guests in tandem with the option to change plans that would otherwise be off the table.”
What role do you see blockchain having in the future of the sector?
“This launch is a very exciting first step as the hospitality sector begins harnessing blockchain technology, and I predict that once it builds momentum it will become more mainstream. The myriad benefits to both the guest and the hotel mean that it’s a commercially sensible and low-risk way of booking a holiday with great benefits for all parties.
“NFT-literate early adopters have been quick to engage with this new way of booking. As blockchain technology becomes more familiar to the wider population I believe that we will see RFTs make up a significant volume of booking revenue within the next few years.
“I was fortunate to have gone through the early dot-com days in our industry when hundreds of new online travel agent (OTA) sites came online. It was a very exciting time but of course now just two or three OTAs remain, having bought out their competition. I see the parallels now emerging in the NFT space and anticipate that new startups will enter the arena. We are set to enter another exciting and pioneering period of advancement for our industry.
“I also believe their booking platforms will have the same evolution as the OTAs by eventually offering travel agencies and tour operators white label functionality and commissioning them in much the same way. It’s always exciting when technology demonstrates how it can help our industry to grow and stay at the cutting edge of innovation.”
What’s next for Casa de Campo?
“We never stand still at Casa de Campo. In addition to working with new partners in emerging sectors, like Pinktada, our owners continue to invest in our facilities to ensure that we remain a world-leading luxury resort, and we have exciting new developments to unveil in the coming months.
“In December, we will complete the first phase in opening our new Premier Club at Casa de Campo. These new ultra-luxury accommodations comprise 58 new suites with their own private concierge and enhanced high-tech facilities. Their addition will elevate our hotel offering to new heights of luxury for the year ahead.
“We will also be opening a new destination spa in the spring, which will position Casa de Campo as one of the finest wellness destinations in the Caribbean. With a new state-of-the-art facility and pioneering treatments, the new spa will allow us to provide a 360-degree fitness and wellbeing programme and the ultimate in restorative relaxation and anti-aging treatments for guests.
“We will continue to work with exciting international artists in 2023, bringing critically acclaimed names such as Kristin Simmons and Gustavo Vélez over to exhibit their works at Casa de Campo, and to run talks and workshops for our guests and residential community. We look forward to hosting the talents of Al Hirschfeld and Charles Fazzino soon, in the next exciting phase of our artistic collaborations.”
What do you think will be the key trends in hospitality in 2023?
“Beyond the technological advancements that will define hospitality reservations in 2023, we see increased personalisation and privacy as being the key trends for luxury hotels next year. These are elements that define stays at Casa de Campo and that have attracted the global elite for the last five decades.”