One of Zurich’s most famous resorts and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and Swiss Deluxe Hotels is accepting payments in Bitcoin as of today, May 1. 2019. Guests of the luxurious hotel overlooking Zurich’s lively city, its charming lake, and the glorious Alps can now settle their bills using the mobile application inapay. This marvel of technology was developed by inacta AG, an independent Swiss IT consulting company for digital transformation that’s based in Zug, Switzerland and uses Bitcoin Suisse as a payment processor. The Dolder Grand is the first hotel in Switzerland to offer this option. However, it should come as no surprise, as their website states; “Anything is possible.”
Crypto Heroes caught up with Mark Jacob, managing director at The Dolder Grand, to ask about this important and innovative step. Here’s what he had to say:
Why did The Dolder Grand choose to accept crypto payments?
I think our Director of Finance, André Meier, put it best when he said: «The wellbeing of our guests is front and center in everything we do. Many of the improvements in our service in recent years were made possible by advances in technology. As we believe cryptocurrencies are here to stay, it only seems natural to offer more choices in the payment process.»
When did the original plan to accept crypto payments come about? And how?
A member of the owner family has been interested in crypto for a while, was attending meetups, and had various conversations with people in the space. At one of our regular business meetings, where we brainstormed about ways to make our guests feel more welcome, he suggested that we look into allowing Bitcoin as a form of payment. And so we did.
How did you implement this plan?
We looked at various options to accept crypto payments and how to implement this onto our existing software. There were various challenges that we had to face, which required investments that were difficult to justify even with the assumption that the percentage revenue from crypto would be in the mid-single digits. We shared these concerns with inacta, the company we had chosen to help us on our journey, and they understood. They then demonstrated out-of-the-box thinking and introduced us to inapay, the application that runs on the payment terminal. Both iOS an Android users can download the app which communicates with a backend and makes all the magic happen.
It’s important to The Dolder Grand that our guests undergo a flawless experience, whether they’re sitting down for a nice dinner, enjoying time at the spa, or settling their bill. There are many components that need to work flawlessly together, and inacta gives us the confidence that we can deliver this first-class experience. Moreover, we chose inacta because they demonstrate a genuine interest in developing a satisfactory hospitality payment solution, listen to our needs, and develop accordingly.
How does the process work?
It’s incredibly simple for both the staff and our guests: the waiter keys in the amount due and the client scans the QR code of the payment. That’s it! As soon as the payment is completed, the crypto gets converted into fiat, either Swiss Francs or Euro. So technically, we don’t actually touch the cryptocurrency.
This pains our crypto-heart a little, but it’s the most pragmatic approach to the payment process in our current environment. Since we’re converting the cryptocurrencies into fiat instantly, Bitcoin’s absolute price level doesn’t really matter to us.
Do you think the hotel’s usual customers will use this form of payment?
We don’t know and we’re very curious to find out. Providing the opportunity to do so will tell us more. We think that our culture will foster an environment that is attractive to blockchain savvy people, which in return will help us find the right people to steer through this period of intense digital change.
I know that a number of regular guests have been involved in crypto for a long time. But who knows if they would like to spend their funds or rather HODL.
Do you think this form of payment will attract other customers?
We’re surprised and humbled by the tremendous amount of press coverage the hotel has received. To us, accepting Bitcoin was about offering more convenience to our guests. The marketing impact was more of an afterthought, really. With all the media reports, especially in the crypto community, this may as well attract new guests. We’ll do our best to make a good first impression and hope those new customers will become regulars.
As of May 1. 2019, guests will be able to pay in Bitcoin. Will other cryptocurrencies follow?
We hope to implement Ether soon and perhaps a few other cryptocurrencies. We also anticipate being able to allow for payments on the Lightning network once it’s proven itself stable enough.
What does the hotel’s future look like to you?
We’re very, very excited to see how Bitcoin gets used at our facilities. We’re also curious in pursuing further opportunities applying blockchain technology, as we think they will augment the guests’ experience. The digital change, which still lies ahead of us, comes with a wealth of opportunities. We look forward to embracing and making it useful to our staff and our guests. Accepting Bitcoin payment is just one small piece in a larger mosaic.
Mark Jacob hopes that this move will have followers and quotes an old saying; “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”