Visit Milwaukee Blends NFTs with Art Tourism

Holding up phone with NFT on it

Skift Take

Visit Milwaukee's new campaign adds a layer of NFT-powered digital art collectibles to a Pokemon Go-style scavenger hunt game, all in the name of driving interest in local art and culture.

Visit Milwaukee has launched Authenticated Experiences (AX), a new art tourism program utilizing non-fungible tokens (NFT). Visit Milwaukee is promoting AX as the tourism industry’s only immersive and interactive NFT platform. The platform promises to turn tourists into digital art collectors and invites them to unlock exclusive, real-life experiences and prizes amidst a scavenger hunt-like format.

“There are other companies that have dabbled in NFTs. This is the first time they are being used to create next-level user experiences beyond just redemption,” said Josh Albrecht, VISIT Milwaukee’s vice president of marketing and communications. “AX is an artist platform that gives us a fresh way to position Milwaukee as a destination for meetings, events, tech, and travel.”

The platform creatively blends AR functionality similar to Pokemon Go to guide tourists to different areas of the city. It also reaps the benefits of NFT technology to add a layer of digital collectibles. Thankfully, tourists do not need cryptocurrency or crypto wallets to join. Creating an account using a name and email address will do.

Exclusive Milwaukee events featuring private performances will be offered when NFTs are claimed, explained Albrecht. “The NFT unlocks a whole other experience,” said Albrecht. In the events industry, interest is growing. AX offers one example of using NFT technology to promote engagement and build community.

Vennity, a Chicago-based company powers the AX platform. The company specializes in creating gamified NFT experiences, online map integration, and digital art minting on the Polygon blockchain.

Linking NFT Experiences with Events

AX is debuting in partnership with Summerfest and Summerfest Tech events, currently taking place in Milwaukee. AX spotlights Milwaukee’s digital creators, brands, places, and people by geolocating free NFT collectibles around the city. 

“This is a joint effort between Summerfest, Summerfest Tech, and Visit Milwaukee to lean into new and exciting technologies. It allows us to create a tech-forward touchpoint for our Summerfest attendees and provide awareness around Web3 and NFT at Summerfest Tech this year while strengthening the connection we have with VISIT Milwaukee and tourism,” said Jerrod Woods, senior director of marketing at Milwaukee World Festival.

As part of Summerfest’s efforts to enter the NFT and collectible space, the music festival released its own NFT on June 22, 2023, with 1,000 limited editions available for collection. Each user who claimed the special Summerfest NFT received one free Summerfest general admission ticket. 

Visit Milwaukee plans to extend the experience around their presence as exhibitors at IMEX America October 17-19, 2023, in Las Vegas. “We will drop NFTs that can be downloaded to access different attractions and experiences in the city,” said Albrecht.

Beyond NFT Tickets

Using NFTs to power event ticketing has been a strong use case for NFTs in events, although there are others. One of the most important benefits is that NFT tickets are safe and impossible to forge. In addition, NFTs can include smart contracts programmed to provide attendees exclusive access to digital content or related experiences; think private Q&A with a keynote speaker or a behind-the-scenes tour of the event venue. 

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk created one of the most well-known and fully-featured examples of using NFT tickets last year. He launched his super conference VeeCon in 2022 in Minneapolis, MN, with just under 7,000 people participating. The Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis hosted the second edition in May. Fans who minted (purchased) a character from his NFT collection called VeeFriends received complimentary registration to three editions of the conference as a value-add.

VeeFriends currently have a floor price of just under $4,000. The value will likely drop after the third conference.