Marriott and the metaverse: NFTs check-in to hotels

Loyalty points, and a side of NFTs?


By Mark Lean

Marriott and the metaverse: NFTs check-in to hotels

To both the mainstream art world and crypto observers, the FaZe Forever Powered by MoonPay event at the recent Art Basel Miami Beach 2021 was notable because of two things. Firstly, it signified crypto art’s entry into the global art calendar. Secondly, it was when a global hotel company officially dipped its toes into the metaverse with Marriott International’s travel programme Marriott Bonvoy unveiling its ‘Power of Travel’ series of NFTs.

The first collection comprises three NFTs, created by digital artists Tarek Mustapha, Jared “Jay” Richardson and Erick Nicolay who conjure the emotions of travel. Mustapha swipes into the magic of travel with his ‘Memoried’ NFT, while Richardson toys with ideas of escape and curiosity in his ‘The Emotional Journey’ NFT. Nicolay looks inwards and outwards in the ‘The Experiential In Between’ NFT with its contrasts of curated hotel interiors and natural settings.

Brytehall speaks with Brian Povinelli, senior vice-president of brand, loyalty and portfolio marketing at Marriott International, about what’s next after the company’s first step into the metaverse.

Following Marriott Bonvoy’s recent NFT drop, what other plans does the company have in the metaverse?

“We aim to continue building a presence within the metaverse where it aligns with our brand and marketing goals in 2022. As consumer behaviours evolve, we’ll seek moments to engage users with our portfolio of brands in a meaningful way that adds value to their relationship with us.”

Hospitality is by nature experiential and in-person. In what ways do you see the various brands under Marriott taking to and running with Web 3.0?

“Technology has always been an essential tool to expand the boundaries of our travel experience, and helps our brands create the distinctive identities travellers are looking for. It’ll be fascinating to watch as the space continues to advance, how our Marriott brands choose to create their digital presence. Hospitality in the metaverse manifests itself a bit differently, but many of its principles are still relevant we think. If this space can evolve in a way that enhances one’s travel experience or eliminates friction in the planning process, I think it’s ripe for opportunity.”

In what impactful and inventive ways does Marriott International intend to build and speak with its customer base in the metaverse?

“Innovation is always at the core of our marketing strategies, including revolutionising the way we connect with the next generation of travellers. The Gen Z population is already comfortable and familiar with the thriving virtual world; they are this community of creators and digital nomads searching for alternate ways to enjoy real-life experiences. As one of the first hospitality brands to enter the digital world, it’s up to us to leverage the power of [our loyalty programme] Marriott Bonvoy and create ways for them to virtually experience the wonders of travel, bringing our Marriott Bonvoy moments to life in the metaverse. By helping to further ignite our belief in the vital importance of travel, we hope to help inspire curiosity in the next generation of our community.”

How does the company plan to interpret and convey ideas such as luxury when it comes to virtual reality/metaverse contexts?

“What makes luxury enticing, to me, is the ability to offer authentic experiences that evoke lasting memories, shared only with an intimate audience. Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of extraordinary experiences has the potential to thrive in the digital world, depending on how well our luxury audience transitions onto this platform.”

This article originally appeared on BURO Malaysia’s sister platform Brytehall.

Read more about the metaverse here.