In an era defined by rapid technological change, the hospitality industry is no exception to the rule. The pursuit of innovation has become a competitive necessity, and it seems like every day, new technologies and innovations are vying for attention. Hotel tech and proptech vendors are pushing their solutions, while AR, VR, the Metaverse and NFTs all compete for the spotlight. What is fascinating, however, is that few people realize that most of these innovations are either based on or closely connected with blockchain technology.
The fast pace of change highlights the need for adaptability and ability to distinguish between tech trends that are truly revolutionary and those that might be just fleeting fads. In this context, blockchain seems to be offering both promise and controversy in its potential to reshape the industry.
Blockchain technology, at its core, is a decentralized and immutable ledger that brings transparency, security and efficiency to various industries, including hospitality. Here’s how it fuels several innovations:
The Backbone of NFTs
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are revolutionizing the concept of ownership in the digital world. They are one-of-a-kind digital assets based on blockchain technology. In the hospitality sector, NFTs can be leveraged as a medium for enhanced customer loyalty programs. Embedding NFTs into hotel loyalty programs allows creating unique and collectible digital experiences for guests, promoting customer loyalty and engagement. By embracing NFTs, businesses can demonstrate a forward-thinking approach and create new revenue streams.
Enabling the Metaverse and Web3
The Metaverse is the immersive, interconnected virtual world that is becoming more integrated with our daily lives. Blockchain played a foundational role in creating the Metaverse by ensuring the ownership and authenticity of digital assets within this digital universe. In a world where guests might interact with virtual hotel rooms or participate in virtual events, blockchain ensures the provenance of these assets and transactions, enhancing trust and security.
Supply Chain Transparency
Blockchain’s distributed ledger technology provides end-to-end transparency in the supply chain, a particularly crucial aspect for the hospitality industry. Guests today are increasingly conscious of the sourcing of products and the sustainability of their choices. Blockchain allows hotels and restaurants to demonstrate a commitment to transparency and sustainability by tracing the origin and quality of their products.
Preventive Maintenance and Sustainability
Preventive maintenance is critical in the hotel industry to ensure the comfort and safety of guests. Blockchain can facilitate predictive maintenance by monitoring and maintaining equipment and systems in real-time, reducing downtime and improving operational efficiency. This approach also aligns with sustainability efforts by reducing energy consumption and waste, reinforcing a commitment to eco-friendly practices.
While the promise of blockchain in hospitality is clear, implementing this transformative technology is far from straightforward. Several controversies and challenges surround the integration of blockchain in the industry:
Blockchain technology might be confusing for people unfamiliar with its sophisticated structure and cryptographic concepts. For a non-tech person, navigating the landscape of blockchain platforms and solutions can feel like a daunting task. The complexity of blockchain frequently makes fully realizing its potential difficult.
The initial investment required to integrate blockchain into existing systems can be significant. From acquiring the necessary hardware and software to training personnel, the costs can deter businesses, particularly smaller establishments, from taking the leap into blockchain technology.
The hospitality sector often relies on legacy systems that may not readily communicate with modern blockchain solutions. The integration process can be time-consuming and costly, making it difficult to transition from the old to the new smoothly.
Lack of Knowledge and Awareness
Many hospitality professionals may lack the knowledge and awareness needed to navigate the blockchain landscape effectively. Understanding the various blockchain platforms, selecting the most suitable one, and creating a compelling use case that guarantees a return on investment (ROI) are all challenging tasks.
Overcoming the Challenges on the Path to Transformation
Navigating these challenges often requires the involvement of technology partners who possess both blockchain expertise and a deep understanding of the hospitality industry. These partners can bridge the knowledge gap and help create tailored blockchain solutions that align with business goals and operational requirements.
However, it’s also essential for hospitality professionals to educate themselves about blockchain technology. In an era where technological innovation is the industry’s heartbeat, knowledge is power. By gaining a solid understanding of blockchain’s capabilities and limitations, we can comfortably lead innovation efforts and assess use cases that are relevant to our business. It’s this very need for knowledge and guidance that my book, “Blockchain for Hospitality and Tourism,” aims to address.
In conclusion, while the implementation of blockchain in hospitality poses challenges, education and the right technology partners can pave the way for a brighter future. As the industry embarks on this technological journey, it’s crucial that professionals become well-versed in the world of blockchain, ensuring they’re not just passengers but also navigators of this transformative landscape.
About the author: Dominika Duziak is a past HFTP research scholar and author of the book, “Blockchain for Hospitality and Tourism.” During her MBA program in International Hospitality Management at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, UAE, Duziak focused on business applications of Blockchain technology in the hotel industry.