Grégory Millon (Molitor): "NFTs allow us to test new models".
The famous Parisian swimming pool has just presented a project for a collection of NFTs. It's a gamble taken by its director, who sees it as an opportunity to create a new relationship with his customers.
The Big Whale: when you think of the Molitor hotel and its famous swimming pool, you think of a lot of things, but not new technologies and NFTs. Why did you delve into this world?
Grégory Millon: it's true that it may come as a surprise, but in reality it's quite consistent with the history of this place. The Molitor pool was created in 1929, and for almost a century it has always been at the cultural and artistic forefront 💫.
In 2018, the winter pool, which for almost 30 years was left abandoned, was opened to 78 artists who graffitied 78 cabins. From the outset, we knew that these works wouldn't stay forever because the idea was to bring other artists to this place, which has since been completely refurbished.
It's hard to remove an artist's work, so we thought about solutions to preserve them in other ways, and that's where blockchain and NFTs came in. Once you have the NFT of a work, you own a copy forever. Physically, the works will disappear, but they will be preserved via this new digital medium.
When did the project start?
This project was born in September 2022, exactly one year ago. We met Artcare who suggested we turn the artwork into NFTs. After that, we had to put all that to music because between Molitor, the Accor group (owner of Molitor) and the artists, we had to get everyone to agree, and that takes time.
In the end three artists, DOES, Marco and Nasty decided to give it a go.
What did they like?
The experience and vision of the project.
One of the four artists, Astro, who had agreed to the project eventually pulled out. Why?"
In the end, he didn't want to take part any more. It's his work, he's the one who decides, and we respect him.
How did you manage the creation of the NFTs collection?
We worked with Accor's Innovation Lab and the company Artcare, which manages the technical part of the project. It was they who helped us make the technological choices for the blockchain and create the NFTs with the artists.
What technology are you using?
The NFTs are available on Ethereum. We chose Ethereum because it's a robust blockchain (it's the 2nd largest on the planet) and it has low energy consumption.
What's the budget for a project like this?
We don't want to give a figure, but the aim is to break even. We're not in the business of making money. Right now we're at the innovation stage, so we need to test. The question of profitability will come later.
Who are you targeting with these NFTs? Your customers? Collectors of NFTs?
Of course we're targeting customers of the Molitor, but more generally we're targeting all Accor Group customers, because some of them are art lovers, and they'll be interested. Of course, we're also targeting NFTs collectors, who aren't necessarily Molitor or Accor customers, but may want to become one.
Don't you think you'll be attracting mainly NFTs collectors?
It's actually much more likely to be people who are already initiated, but at the same time all buyers of NFTs will have to have registered with the Accor programme, so they'll have joined the Accor family in a way.
These NFTs are works of art, but there are also benefits that go with them. What are they?
There are 390 NFTs in total, or 130 NFTs per artist. Each holder of an NFT will be able to access the "Legacy Party" that we're organising on 25 November in the indoor swimming pool. We've also planned a prize draw for 30 of the collectors who will be able to attend an exceptional dinner in the indoor pool.
The pool will of course be empty! We'll be holding this dinner when the pool is emptied annually in 2024. Finally, three of the collectors, also drawn by lot, will be able to meet the artists. These meetings will also take place in 2024.
Only NFT holders will be able to benefit from these advantages?
Yes, owners will not be able to pass on their NFT to a friend or family member. We want the real owner to benefit from the experience.
The collection comes out at the end of 2023. The markets have fallen sharply in the last year or so. Don't you feel like you're jumping in after the wave?
That's a question we'll be asked a lot, but I don't think we're too late at all. As with every technology, there are phases of speculation, sometimes very intense, and phases of innovation and adoption. We are in this second phase where speculation counts for less, and so much the better.
Exactly the same thing happened with the Internet over twenty years ago. At the end of the 1990s, there was a lot of speculation, and then the internet bubble burst. That didn't mean that everything disappeared, and today everyone uses the Internet, whether they are individuals or businesses.
I think the same thing will happen with cryptos and NFTs. Today, we have a choice between watching what happens or experimenting. I know which side I'm on. My conviction is that the crypto wave won't necessarily take off again in the coming weeks or months, but we'll be ready when it does.
Unless another artist pulls out between now and then, there will therefore be 390 NFTs for sale (130 NFTs per artist) at a unit price of 590 euros (0.40 ether). Do you expect to sell them all?
At present, people interested in NFTs can whitelist (pre-register) until 28 September. On 29 September, there will be a private sale for those who have pre-registered, and from 30 September, there will be a public sale, which will last for a month.
I'm not going to lie to you by saying that we wouldn't like to sell all the NFTs. Of course that's our aim, and we're going to do everything we can to make it work.
The NFTs cost 590 euros. Isn't that too expensive?
I don't think so. Between the artistic value of the NFTs and the benefits associated with the evening and the prize draws, I think we're at the right price.
Could you add new benefits with the NFTs, such as access to the swimming pool, hotel or sports club?
This is one of the things we're considering. It would make sense to add benefits. We'll see in the medium term, especially if there are new collections.