Traveling is all about making memories that will last a lifetime (or longer, if you upload those memories to the everlasting internet!). And travel is also about experiencing something and somewhere new. A different country, an alternative cuisine, a way of life full of quirks and cultural traits dissimilar to ours. Seeing the world opens and enriches one’s mind.
Collecting travel memories and experiences is a lifelong endeavor. But over time, memories might fade, and experiences might be forgotten. What if there was a way to tokenize one’s travel history, however? What if there was a way to track one’s journeys across the world and turn everything we see and experience into digital badges, and ultimately, into non-fungible tokens (NFTs)? Interested? Read on.
NFTs were mostly a niche technological curiosity not so long ago. But the Beeple NFT blew open the hitherto mysterious world of tokenization, and suddenly everyone wanted to partake in the NFT party.
Originally, NFTs were largely confined to the art world. People created and traded pieces of digital art. But the underlying concept of tokenization is far more versatile. Recently, we published several articles on NFTs: NFTs for real estate, NFTs for the hotel industry, and NFTs for the restaurant sector, and we’d encourage you to read them all to get a comprehensive understanding of how this fascinating technology can become part of our daily lives in the not-too-distant-future. Today, we’ll be talking about traveling, tokens, and how these two seemingly disparate concepts can be merged to create new experiences.
Passports on the blockchain
When we travel, we carry a lot of paper-based documentation. Travel insurance certificates, and printed tickets to certain landmarks or attractions. Medical documentation. Boarding passes, and of course, passports. But we’re in the midst of the digital age, so doesn’t all this strike you as slightly anachronistic? Everybody carries a mobile phone these days, so why can’t we have all this information in digital form, so the burden of having to print stuff and carrying it around is no longer there.
Passports are especially worrisome. Losing a passport on foreign soil can be an absolute disaster and become a source of immense stress for the individual. Besides, we need to display the passport at the point of exit and entry, and the relevant border agents have to check it, validate it against a central database, etc. The whole experience is unnecessarily cumbersome and full of friction.
A potential tokenized solution to the passport issue is to turn the passport into an NFT. NFTs are unique and blockchain-based. They cannot be manipulated. An NFT-based passport linked to a person’s biometrics would be safe and secure, as both NFT and biometrics are completely unique.
How this system would work in practice remains to be seen, as NFT passports are purely speculative at this point. But some countries are already adopting NFT-based ‘health’ passports to reflect Covid-19 vaccination status, so the possibilities are real.
Traveling opens the mind to new places. The sights, sounds, and ambiance of a different country create new avenues of thought and inspiration. Nowadays, it’s easy to take photographs and record video footage through smartphones. The results are obvious and immediate. Over time, people accumulate memories, experiences, and of course, pictures and videos of their holidays.
All these digital depictions of people’s travels have no intrinsic value, other than sentimental. But if pictures, videos, etc., could be turned into NFT, the dynamics could change dramatically. Again, because every NFT is unique, it is a collectible, and can be considered memorabilia. Tokenizing travel experiences might bring about a new era where people seek after some specific tokens or certain places, for example, to display on Instagram, or any other specialized app that might emerge in the future. Over time, all these places, all these sights, these experiences and visits to popular (or maybe off the beaten path!) landmarks might add up to expand someone’s digital reputation, which might become a tradable commodity.
Currently, NFTs are largely associated with niche artsy environments, but there are tentative moves to expand the reach and influence of tokenization in travel. Travel company Cloudkeys for example, recently offered a ‘personalized’ way to experience travel around Greece. The experience could be transformed into NFTs to be sold and share. The success of this particular enterprise remains to be seen, but the important aspect is that companies are attempting to enhance travel through NFTs.
Yet, much of the applicability of NFTs in the travel industry remains unexplored, and that’s precisely what makes these digital curiosities so, well, curious.