Digital Currencies and the Hospitality Industry

The world’s best hotels attract a global clientele. Hence an old-world amenity like a currency counter: a station run by a hotel employee in which said worker, dressed in a blazer or in a bespoke outfit with epaulets and brass buttons, converts dollars into dinars or yen into euros or rubles into rand. Add digital currencies to this list, as hoteliers seek to broaden their base and further customize offerings from various professionals (myself included) who specialize in health and wellness, in addition to fitness and nutrition.

Note, too, that mine is neither an endorsement for nor a rejection of digital currencies. Mine is, instead, a call to action—or at least an attempt to raise awareness—concerning a trend that is more fact than fiction; that is more a practice already in place than a theory about the timing and placement of news about this matter; that is more a means of accommodation than a mere topic of academic conversation. Hoteliers will have to decide for themselves which, if any, digital currencies they agree to accept.

The bigger issue is the effort by hotels and resorts to be as competitive as possible. If that means advertising Bitcoin as a form of payment, or using this method of payment to upgrade in-room dining or modernize a gym or spa, consider this, then, the new reality of the hospitality industry. If this scenario translates into longer and more frequent bookings, digital currencies will retain their value as much as fiat money.

Again, industry executives need to know this information. If prospective guests have not asked hoteliers if they accept Bitcoin (or something similar), they soon will. If these same individuals have not yet chosen where to stay, digital currencies may have the final say; meaning this factor alone may determine the success or stagnation of one property versus another.

As someone who follows this subject, not because I am partial to a particular currency, but because I know hoteliers cannot be too particular about what type of payment they accept, my message is simple: Change is afoot throughout the hospitality industry. We can no more deny this event than we can dismiss it. Rather, to the extent we choose the latter—insofar as we can delay the inevitable—there will nonetheless be a final reckoning.

It makes sense, therefore, to be ready for this shift. Whether a hotelier leads the way or follows is his decision. I prefer preparedness over pride, which is to say I want to be the beneficiary of change—if and when there is a permanent change in circumstances—than the victim of changes I refuse to acknowledge.

Let us focus on what happens in the hospitality industry. Let us do so with vigilance, not vehemence for or against change. Let us do so with the diligence necessary to succeed.

We do not need a currency converter to translate the importance of this situation. We need only do our duty with honor and integrity. The rest will take care of itself.

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