Ca' di Dio is the first Venetian luxury hotel to offer a reservation via the trendy asset class NFT, or non-fungible token. Smart hotels everywhere are trying fresh ways to appeal to niche audiences, instead of just rely on Booking.com & company.
The five-star hotel Ca’ di Dio will officially open in Venice on August 27. But through Monday, August 16, the parent company VRetreats is auctioning off a night’s stay where a guest can enjoy the entire property by themselves. Notably, consumers must bid on a non-fungible token, or NFT for short.
An NFT is a token that can’t be copied. That makes it like a digital deed. The new asset class became hip this year, even getting its own song on Saturday Night Live. In the first half of this year, auction house Christie’s helped to sell $93.2 million of digital art, relying on nonfungible tokens for authenticity.
“We see using NFT for this auction as an advantage from a distribution point of view, not just from a marketing point of view,” said Angelo La Riccia, commercial director of VRetreats and VOIhotels.
In a distinctive move, the hotel brand is running an auction, where people can join the Opensea.io platform to bid on the NFT. The person who offers the highest bid will get to stay in a room for a night on August 19 for two or three guests, including dinner on the rooftop — with no other guests at the property.
“We want to micro-target a niche segment of travelers, the kind that would be interested in NFTs,” La Riccia said. “If you care about cryptocurrency, you probably haven’t heard of our small brand yet. Whoever wins the auction will probably be new to our brand and, when they have an amazing time, can spread the word through their community.”
Ca’ di Dio is both new and old. It’s the latest hotel in Venice, but it’s also a reconstruction of a palazzo first conceived in 1272. It has 57 suites, plus nine other guest rooms, set around three courtyards, and its lobby features chandeliers from the LP Glass Factory in nearby Murano.
Ca’ di Dio (short for “house of God”) is the fourth hotel to open in the VRetreats brand, which is an offshoot of VOIhotels, which belongs to Alpitour — Italy’s largest tour operator and travel conglomerate.
While NFT relies on blockchain technology, and while most people use cryptocurrency to buy NFT, people can bid on this hotel’s NFT using a standard form of payment such as a credit card.
Hotel Marketing Changes Due to the Pandemic
“We expect the pandemic to change the mix of customers we get, from leisure to group to transient to business,” La Riccia said. “This is one of several tactics we’re taking as a brand to enhance our marketing skill more quickly and adroitly in response to demand signals.”
While the Venice property is for leisure travelers, VRetreats’ and VOIhotel’s other properties are in city centers with a significant business travel mix.
The VOIhotel executives aren’t alone in expecting a change to the mix. Research analysts at Bank of America published a report on Wednesday predicting that neither international travel nor business travel will fully recover from the pandemic for years.
Bank of America predicts that in 2024 business travel in Europe will remain about 25 percent below the 2019 levels because of the demands of the fight against global climate change and improvements in the effectiveness of distributed workforces as videoconferencing and other online workplace tools improve.
Reaching leisure and luxury audiences, in particular, will require reaching new channels if paid search engine marketing plateaus while other channels, such as social media marketing, rise in importance with a new generation.
“I’ve heard from colleagues in the hospitality industry that work at other brands who say they’re putting in a couple of euros to bid in the auction just to understand how that works,” La Riccia said. “Hoteliers have to think creatively as we come out of the crisis.”
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Photo credit: A guest room at the Ca’ di Dio Venice, a luxury hotel in Italy that's part of the VRetreats brand owned by Alpitour, Italy's largest tour company. Alpitour