The Future Of Blockchain Tech In Travel And Hospitality; Interview with Jason Kycek, Senior Vice President at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas

BySharita J. Wilson

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New blockchain technology project from  Casa de Campo Resort & Villas allows guests to reserve rooms with transferrable room-night tokens (RNTs) on Pinktada’s platform, giving them access to the best deals with the flexibility to sell on their RNTs if plans change. It also has an interactive 3D interface also allows guests to virtually tour each room and facility on the property before making a booking. Jason Kycek, Senior Vice President at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, will be sharing more details with us in this interview with TechBullion.

Please tell us more about yourself?

Jason Kycek, Senior Vice President at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas in the Dominican Republic. I was honored to have joined our company in 2017 to oversee the strategic turnaround of this legendary property.  Casa de Campo and the DR are both special places and unlike anything I have ever seen anywhere else in the world.  My background in turning around underperforming assets in the high-end luxury golf, spa, real estate, and country club resort & hospitality markets prepared me for being able to bring my past experience to Casa de Campo and to the DR.   

Throughout my 15 year career as a global hotelier I have had the pleasure of working for a number of the world’s finest luxury resorts, and it’s safe to say that hospitality and innovation within this sector are my passion. That along with golf & shooting, which Casa de Campo allows me the opportunity to indulge in regularly, offering, as it does, three outstanding Pete Dye-designed courses, including the Caribbean and Latin America’s No. 1, Teeth of the Dog and world acclaimed and one-of-a-kind shooting center.   

What solutions and services do you provide at Casa de Campo?

Casa de Campo Resort & Villas is the first and most exclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. We are very proud to be the luxury destination for discerning travellers, homeowners, dignitaries, and celebrities seeking privacy, security, elegant surroundings and world-class activities for over 50 years. 

We’re a private gated community with over 7,000 tropical acres on the south-eastern coast of the island. When guests choose to stay at our five-star resort or one of our luxury villas, they can enjoy eight outstanding restaurants including the famed Minitas Beach Club, our 370-slip Marina and Yacht Club, our expansive Equestrian & Polo Center, a 245-acre Clay Shooting Course, our world-leading Pete-Dye golf courses, state-of-the-art tennis facilities, and private white sand beaches.  When guests stay with us, they are able to enjoy being a part of the community of Casa de Campo.  We have over 2,300 homes within the property, which adds a unique environment for guests and homeowners to mingle together. 

One of our most unique assets is Altos de Chavón, a stunning replica 16th century Mediterranean village with restaurants, shops, a church, and stunning views, where guests can enjoy cultural and artistic experiences. These include pottery lessons, loom weaving and screen printing, access to art galleries and our very own Archaeological Museum that features an extraordinary collection of indigenous objects that tell the early history of the Dominican Republic. All this is topped off by the opportunity to watch performances from global superstars in Altos de Chavón’s 5,000-seat amphitheatre, where Frank Sinatra was the first to ever perform when it opened. 

Casa de Campo recently announced a new tokenised reservations platform. What inspired this Blockchain and NFT integration into the Travel And Hospitality industry?

I am always looking ahead at ways we can innovate and improve our operations and guest experiences. Technology is continually changing the way we do business and new products and applications are continually being developed.  It is not that often, however, when I see something new that I believe has potential to be the next “Expedia” in our industry.  When I was first approached by the team at Pinktada, I knew they were onto something. I have seen the potential of Blockchain technology and knew sooner or later someone was going to develop a new platform for use within the hospitality space. They are the first to market and combine NFTs and proprietary content allowing users to immerse themselves within the property they are viewing and have a firsthand experience before booking. We became their first property to sign up and have been working closely with them ever since to help build their programme and to be their launching pad within the industry. They are the first to market with this business model and I am sure others will follow, but for now, they are leading the way and will offer the hotel industry an exciting new platform to reach a new guest and markets around the world.

We are certain that our guests, whether they are beginners or well-versed in NFTs, will appreciate the ease of use, unique benefits, personalised tokens, and cutting edge technology platform in booking rooms that convert to room-night tokens (RFTs) and that the guest ultimately owns. 

Could you give us a walkthrough of your new tokenised reservations technology, the features available, and how it works?

By purchasing transferrable RNTs to reserve rooms through our partner Pinktada’s visionary new blockchain-based booking platform, guests will have access to the most competitive rates on all of our Room categories and villas, combined with the flexibility to sell back or swap reservation tokens if a change in plans arises. 

This allows our guests to take advantage of special rates that hotels normally only make available to fixed bookings but, crucially, without any of the risk, as they will have the option to sell or swap their RNTs if they need to.  It is a revolutionary new concept and will undoubtedly be a disrupter to the industry.

From the hotel’s operational perspective, this new technology allows us to offer our customers greater flexibility, with the added benefit of having guaranteed revenue. It’s a win-win for all parties. 

What is the nature of your partnership with NFT-based platform, Pinktada and how does this benefit your customers?

We have been exploring ways for Casa de Campo to embrace blockchain technology for a while, and when I had the good fortune to meet the team at Pinktada in January of 2021, I knew that this was going to be an exciting partnership. 

Pinktada is a membership-based, leisure-focused, marketing and reservation platform that is changing the way hotel reservations are made, with a focus on upscale, independent hotels with distinguished attributes. 

The visionary booking model allows for both price optimisation and flexibility at the same time, and we are honoured to be one of the very first hotels featured on the Pinktada platform.

Your platform also has an interactive 3D interface that allows guests to virtually tour each room and facility on property before making a booking, tell us more about this tool.

The fully immersive 3D experience on Pinktada’s proprietary user interface will allow our guests to search for the exact room amenities and features they are looking for in each of Casa de Campo’s rooms and suites. 

Guests can also virtually tour all our restaurants and pools, as well as other on-property amenities such as our three Pete Dye-designed golf courses, our shooting ranges and our equestrian and polo facilities. 

We have filmed every element of a stay at Casa de Campo to create the 3D tours, so guests can ‘try before they buy’, digitally explore in detail and ensure that they are booking the perfect accommodation and facilities for their dream holiday. 

Upon completion of a stay at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, Pinktada users will receive their very own commemorative NFT, customised with memories of their stay on the property.

What does this technological development mean for the travel and hospitality industry, and where do we see the future of blockchain technology in travel and hospitality?

This is a very exciting first step as the hospitality sector begins harnessing blockchain technology, and I predict that once it builds momentum it will become more mainstream. The myriad of benefits to both the guest and the hotel mean that it’s a commercially sensible and low-risk way of booking a holiday with great benefits for all parties. 

NFT-literate early adopters have been quick to engage with this new way of booking. As blockchain technology becomes more familiar to the wider population I believe that we will see RFTs make up a significant volume of booking revenue within the next few years.  

I was fortunate to have gone through the early .com days in our industry when the OTA sites came on-line. It was a very exciting time and the equivalent of the wild west and there were hundreds of .com travel sites entering the market. As we know now, we are only left with two or three OTAs that bought all of their competitors. Having gone through this era in our industry, I see the same parallels now occurring in this space. I anticipate there will be a continuation of new startups entering the arena and, once again, we will go through another exciting and pioneering advancement in our industry. 

I also believe their booking platforms will have the same evolution as the OTAs by eventually offering travel agencies and tour operators White Label functionality and commissioning them much in the same way. It’s an exciting time and, once again, technology has shown us how it can helping our industry to grow and stay at the cutting edge of innovation.  

Besides room booking, are some of your activities and dining included in the tokenized hospitality deal?

Yes, they are. Activities and dining are integral parts of a holiday at Casa de Campo and a fundamental part of the reason why holidaymakers choose our property over other Caribbean resorts. 

From our outstanding gastronomic restaurants and bars to watching global superstars performing in our iconic amphitheater, and from our relaxing pools and pristine beaches to our wealth of sporting and cultural activities, there is something for everyone, of all ages. 

Once the platform is capable of selling our ad-ons, we will be able to also include a selection of activities for guests to purchase, such as unlimited horse-riding and tennis, and 25 free clay shots at the Shooting Centre, as part of our all-inclusive.

At what stage of development is this blockchain and hospitality project and what do we expect next from Casa de Campo?

We are still in the early stages and Pinktada is the first to market and leading the way in this space. We are eager to see the next evolution of where this goes next and are grateful to have been the first hotel to work with them – we recognise the potential of what they are doing.

In general, it has been a very exciting time for our company overall. In addition to working with new partners in emerging sectors like Pinktada, the last five years have been the best in the company’s 50-year history.  Our ownership has continually supported us in taking Casa de Campo to new heights and we will also be opening some exciting new facilities in the coming months. Construction is currently underway for the resort’s new Premier Club and Suites which is set to open in December 2022. This will add 58 stunning new rooms and suites and elevate our hotel accommodation offering even further. We will also open a brand-new destination spa and wellness centre in 2023, positioning Casa de Campo as one of the finest wellness destinations in the Caribbean.  

Do you have more information for our readers, any opportunities for investors, and partnerships at Casa de Campo? 

We are always looking for new partners and new opportunities that will bring value to our guests and homeowners alike and allow us to stay in front of the competition. There is tremendous opportunity for growth and development within Casa de Campo and the Dominican Republic overall. It is an amazing place with so much to offer and I encourage anyone who has never been to come, visit and experience it firsthand. It is a vibrant destination and growing rapidly, which makes it an exciting time to be here.  

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