Just as the internet has changed how we book flights, train tickets and lodging, blockchain technology is bringing a new wave of travel innovation.
Many blockchain–based businesses have sprung up this year to help people book rooms, buy plane tickets and even get tax refunds. Following are some of these new players and what they want to do to help you in your travels.
says it will offer travelers lots of choices, allowing them to book flights, hotels and events on its platform and pay for them with a variety of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin (), TripBit tokens (TBT) and fiat currencies. The company says its blockchain technology will prevent double booking, reduce transaction fees and speed purchases. The company, plans to launch its platform early next year. There are also plans for a separate decentralized app to allow consumers to resell event or tour tickets.
Airbnb is turning 10, which means that as a business it is no longer a scrappy startup but an established company worth . Airbnb used the internet to take on the hospitality industry a decade ago and now some new players want to use blockchain to challenge Airbnb’s dominance in homesharing.
Among them is , which says its staff includes veterans of Google, Facebook and Uber and promises zero commissions on bookings and listings. That could be a powerful draw, given that Airbnb charges hosts 3 percent of the subtotal and then tacks on a service fee for guests of up to 20 percent.
, launched earlier this year in several California metropolitan areas, accepts both tokens, which run on the Ethereum network, and U.S. dollars. According to the company’s white paper, payments are held in BEE tokens until the parties are satisfied with the transaction. Token holders will be able to arbitrate disputes between guests and hosts and can get a potential reward for doing so. Because ratings of guests and hosts are on the blockchain, they can’t be changed.
Getting Back Those Taxes
Perhaps the most unusual startup is , a blockchain platform that wants to make it easier for travelers to get refunds of local consumption taxes. Many countries allow foreign visitors to apply for refunds on those taxes, which can be as high as 25 percent. But getting reimbursed can entail collecting receipts and waiting in long lines at the airport refund counter at the end of a trip.
EBCoin says it will give travelers immediate, 100 percent reimbursement, noting that many existing agencies providing refund services charge stiff fees. Using ATMs and kiosks optimized for the EBC tokens, travelers will be able to convert the tokens into the foreign currency of their choice. The token presale began in late 2017 and the pilot is set to launch next year.
Paying on the Road
wants to make its coin the preferred currency of globetrotters. The company says its coin uses a new algorithm based on directed acylic graph technology so transactions times are much shorter than using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. By using TRF, tourists won’t have to pay high fees for exchanging cash or for using their debit or credit cards.
The company will offer physical cards that can be used at ATMs but require a PIN so that even if the card is stolen the thief won’t be able to use it.
Blockchain at the Front Desk
Then there’s , combining artificial intelligence with blockchain technology to provide consumer information to the hospitality industry. However, unlike traditional consumer intelligence businesses, Aqua will compensate travelers for their information. They can earn the AQX utility token by providing data, validating existing information about them and participating in surveys and other activities. In turn, hotels will be able to use the data to make better, more targeted offerings to consumers.
The company, whose founders have experience working in large Las Vegas hotels, also offers a software-as-a-service application for managing hotel operations.