Pinktada CEO Lyon Hardgrave joins Yahoo Finance Live to break down how his company lets hotel guests swap crypto tokens to book rooms.
– Let’s shift over to the hotel industry where they’re embracing the use of non-fungible tokens, NFTs, and startup Pinktada is teaming up with a handful of resorts to offer travelers tokens that can be exchanged for a reservation. How does all this work? Pinktada CEO Lyon Hargrave joins us now.
Great to have you on the show, Lyon. I want to ask you to explain exactly what you’re doing here. Understanding is that this is going to be a way that people who get a reservation at a hotel might be able to shop and sell their reservation to other potential hotel stayers. Give us a little bit more of a breakdown exactly how this works.
LYON HARDGRAVE: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve designed our hotel marketplace to allow non-refundable reservations to be transferable. So anybody can make a non-refundable reservation at discount prices from a hotel. Instead being locked into travel and unable to change their plans, they can go into the secondary marketplace and buy or sell other reservations just like you would a ticket on StubHub or other ticket marketplaces. And we think this is kind of the natural way for travel to work where every single night is its own sort of ticket, and you can buy and sell tickets and combine them in different ways to get the exact reservation you want.
– Lyon, I have to be honest. When I first heard this, I thought, well, this is a way for hotels to be able to part with excess inventory. And then they don’t necessarily get stuck with the tab, bill, so to speak, if somebody cancels a reservation last minute. How does this benefit the traveller?
LYON HARDGRAVE: Well, look. Travellers love non-refundable reservations. Prior to COVID, almost half of leisure travelers were making non-refundable reservations. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve been actually locked into a situation where my plans changed.
I had something happen to my life, and I couldn’t actually make that trip. And so now I’m stuck with a total loss of my complete costs. I got a discount rate, but I’m stuck with a loss in reservation.
What our marketplace allows you to do is go back into the marketplace to all the other tens of thousands of people changing travel plans at any moment and say, here, I need to swap [INAUDIBLE] reservation. Where is the fair price for it? And we’re market driven. So during times of very high demand and low capacity, prices will rise, and you’ll actually get real price discovery about where the price level is that people want to get different reservations.
– Yeah, and translation, I guess, that people can make some money off of shopping perhaps some of these reservations on the platform. But I guess doesn’t that kind of shake up the whole, I guess, idea of you kind of knowing who’s staying at the hotel and having credit card deposits to make sure people don’t wreck the hotel? I mean, how does that kind of shaken up by this? Because my understanding is that the hotel in this case might not have full control over who’s staying at the resort.
LYON HARDGRAVE: Well, I mean, as it is, the hotel doesn’t really have control. They do have– they request basic customer information to make sure they have a booking. We do the same thing.
So there’s no anonymous booking. Mobody can just kind of show up anonymously and take over a room. We do all the regular KYC the hotel does to get the basic customer information.
We go farther. We really allow the hotels to understand how people are transacting their rooms. And so they’re getting real-time price discovery about how different types of rooms are valued at different times and different people. And we think it’s going to– the same way that a ticket marketplace like StubHub unlocked a bunch of data about how different people value different parts of a stadium or arena for a different event, we believe we can unlock the same information about how people value different parts of the hotel and different parts of the calendar in the way that’s just impossible right now through existing distribution systems.
– Why do you need an NFT for that? I mean, if you think about StubHub, for example, right, it’s not– you’re not trading NFTs on the platform. I mean, why that technology?
LYON HARDGRAVE: So that’s a good question. So actually, when we first started this company, we used NFT technology as the data structure that we wanted because NFTs actually encapsulate hotel reservations very well. They’re nonfungible.
Every one’s a little bit different. And so as a data structure, it works very well for hotel reservations. I think truly in the short term, you could do it with a centralized database.
But in the longer term, you want NFTs because it really allows the asset to belong to the customer. If I make a reservation, I buy a hotel, it belongs to me. That room, that belongs to me.
I can [INAUDIBLE] people I want to. I can go and actually work with other types of members of the ecosystem to transfer hotel reservations in the way that I want. We think long term when most hotel reservations are tokenized, when they’re available as assets that are owned by the customer, that there will be a whole ecosystem of secondary platforms emerge to specialize in different types of functions.
So if you’re looking for adjoining rooms, there’ll be an adjoining room platform that looks into that whole pool of NFTs out there and kind of picks out different adjoining room combinations that makes sense for the customer. And so we think it’ll basically change the dynamic of how different services can pick up inventory from the hotel industry in a way that’s much better for both hotels and travellers.
– Yeah, for right now, what? Seven hotels on the platform, six in Hawaii, and one in the Dominican Republic. So I might have to go check that out. Pinktata CEO Lyon Hargrave–
LYON HARDGRAVE: Absolutely.
– –thank so much. Appreciate it.