Location-based NFTs with Proof of Attendance could be a boon for global tourism.
by Chia Sheng Yeong
One genuine concern I have as countries come out of the COVID lockdowns into endemic phases, is the economy. Since COVID, governments around the world have taken on more debts to stimulate the economy. This debt burden invariably limits the government’s options economically, politically and socially. I am fearful of unrest as citizens start to question their social contract with their countries.
By writing this article, I hope to contribute some ideas to prop up the economy of countries.
Location Based NFT Minting
As borders open, people might still be adverse to travel due to the difficulties posed by COVID tests, onerous documentation and quarantine requirements. So we will need to find ways to encourage or incentivise travel. For that, I am suggesting that location based NFT minting. What is location based NFT minting? It is like any other NFTs, the only main difference is that for the user to mint it, they have to be at a specific location within a specific time period. For example, during Oktoberfest, to mint an Oktoberfest NFT, I will have to be in Munich Germany between mid September to early October to attend one of the beer festivals. In the beer festival, there will be a QR code displayed at the center of the event hall or during the attendance checking. By scanning this QR code, I would have minted a proof of attendance (POAP) NFT that will allow me to participate in a raffle. At the end of the event, a group of winners from the participants will be randomly selected. They will then be given a day or two to mint their own unique NFTs.
How is the POAP NFT different from the unique NFT? The POAP NFT is like a badge or a ticket that is the same across all users. However, the unique NFT is like the NFTs that we are familiar with. It is limited in quantity and highly desirable. To ensure that it is highly desirable, event organisations can commission well known local artists to create those unique NFTs.
To maintain freshness, every year, new sets of NFTs are commissioned from different local artists. This generates renewed interest for users to come back every year. The NFTs should also follow current trends such that it appeals to the targeted audience.
If you look back at the example above, you will notice that the group of winners are only announced at the end of the event or time period. Why is that the case? There are many reasons, but one is related to a common marketing technique that advertising agencies commonly use. That is the press embargo technique. The release of all NFTs at one go will generate more online conversations than trickled releases. Such technique helps maximise public awareness. It will thus generate more demand for the NFTs. Another reason is a little more technical. By releasing all NFT artworks within a time frame with preselected winners, this reduces attempted exploits by sufficiently technical adversaries trying to game the NFT minting process. It also prevents gas wars.
What about the royalties? The royalties should be split between the artist and the event organisation. Regardless of how the split is agreed, it is a win-win situation as both parties stand not only to benefit from the first time sale of the NFTs, but also from the subsequent sales.
This idea can be made more elaborate by requiring users to travel to different tourist destinations to scan QR codes in designated tourist spots within a season to collect POAP NFTs for each tourist spot. The season can be determined according to known touristy time periods like peach blossom season etc. By successfully meeting this prerequisite, the user will again stand a chance to participate in a raffle. The winners will be randomly selected at the end of the season. Thereafter they will be given a day or two to mint their unique NFTs. This adventure based reward system prolongs a tourist’s time in a country, thus increasing the dollar spent in the country.
What about users that are loyal but may not have always been so lucky? For those users who participate consistently over the years can be rewarded with retroactive airdrops of NFTs. We can know this by scanning the blockchain for users that have a sufficient collection of POAP NFTs. These users will get NFTs specially created just for them. This incentivises users to consistently travel back to countries for tourism. The retroactive airdrops should remain a surprise so as to reduce speculation in selling them. I can imagine in the future, such POAP NFTs are also designed to be not transferable. Meaning that users won’t be able to purchase them from the market. They will have to travel to earn them.
Social and Economic Benefits
This type of location based NFTs are beneficial to the local economy for a few reasons.
Firstly, it encourages the growth of a new kind of tourism experience whereby tourists not only travel for leisure purposes, they also travel to collect NFT rewards. The nature of the NFT rewards are only limited by the imagination. For example, collecting the NFTs is equivalent to collecting lived memories. With the NFT, the owner can put on their virtual reality goggles to relive the 360 degree audio visual experience of standing at the edge of a waterfall. This goes to show that NFTs are not just images on the internet. They can be so much more.
Secondly, it encourages the creation of new job opportunities in the arts scene. In addition to requiring software developers, such services require audio visual artists, audio visual engineers, event managers, prop/set designers, story tellers, script writers etc. Some of these jobs also require extensive understanding and appreciation of local cultures. Because without which, the NFTs might not have the same “soul”. This is akin to going to a souvenir store in London to purchase a souvenir made from Vietnam. This means job creation will stay in place. It can’t be outsourced. Imagine a sound engineer trying to put rainforest sounds into the NFT without going into the rainforest to collect them.
Thirdly, countries, states, cities or local municipalities can not only “export” their services and products in the form of NFTs, they are also invariably exporting their culture and experiences in a more potent way. Just like the United States with Hollywood movies, South Korea with K-pop etc. This encourages further exchange of culture, helping open minds, reducing prejudice and bigotry.
Lastly, tourism organisations needn’t be the only party allowed to benefit from this idea. NGOs, corporate CSR efforts, student led organisations etc can create their own sets of NFTs for their own experiences. Such efforts become decentralised, generating a burst of innovation. All because it is now possible to sell non-fungible online content that appeals to a diverse set of audience.
Future of Location Based NFTs
In the long run, I can imagine the use of augmented realities (AR) to enhance the overall experience. Beacons with NFC chips and QR codes can be dropped at strategic locations whereby travellers upon arriving, can use their phones or AR devices to scan the area to find the beacons for POAP NFTs while learning and enjoying the tourist spot.
In rare circumstances, tourists (going to a zoo for instance) may also be able to catch NFTs like virtual reality Orang Utan NFTs. The NFTs can be preprogrammed to appear at designated spots randomly. The owners can then show off their newly caught pets following their avatars in the Metaverse.
For this to come to fruition, it is also crucial to invest in arts education and hospitality. This might be a long term investment but developing countries (most affected by Covid) with focus in the tourism space stand to gain the most. NFTs have created new avenues to build a successful career in the arts scene. It shouldn’t be a frowned upon profession for the passionate.
I look forward to the day when I travel, I can bring back not only run of the mill souvenirs that I have to stuff in my luggage and find a place to put in my display cabinet. Instead, bring back something valuable like an NFT, where I can showcase to my friends all around the world and interact with it online for unique experiences only available for the NFT owner. This will make the travel experience more meaningful, useful and possibly rewarding.
Ps: For the astute readers, you may realise that I have skimmed through the implementation details. This article was created for a wider audience. I can try to cover them here but it may prove verbose. Additionally, I have plenty of ideas to make the NFTs more useful and interesting. If you like to know more, you can reach out to me here. I’d be glad to discuss them in detail with you.