The travel and tourism industry is worth nearly $1.6 trillion globally and accounts for one-tenth of the world’s GDP.
Despite this vast market, the industry is dominated by monopolies. This is quite evident in the space for travel booking services. Major players like Booking.com, Expedia, and Airbnb have become the go-to places for finding hotels and rooms but they all charge fees for the vendors while payment processing charges a fee on the customer.
According to the Vietnam-based travel tech startup Concierge, up to 50 percent of transaction value goes to middlemen like booking services and not the actual service provider.
The blockchain, decentralised ledgers, and smart contracts have the potential to radically change how the tourism and travel industry works for both customers and vendors.
Concierge is now building a decentralised travel booking marketplace on the NEO blockchain for an industry that it believes is stuck using these outdated processes. The startup goes on to claim that its transaction costs for customers are around 30% lower than the typical fees seen in the industry today while vendors will pay no commission at all.
Breaking down many of these hurdles with the blockchain will streamline the entire travel booking process.
A truly peer-to-peer experience
The Concierge marketplace will open “direct communication between traveller and provider” by cutting out the intermediaries, diverting power away from the monopolies and back to the service providers.
The peer-to-peer platform will serve as a booking hub for hotels, resorts, and tours with payments carried out all within the platform. The marketplace will be powered by Concierge’s dedicated token dubbed the CGE Token, which will be used for bookings and minimising fees.
Travel and tour providers and property owners will be able to build and develop their own apps and services directly on the Concierge platform. The biggest benefit of using the marketplace, according to the startup, is the zero percent commission charged to vendors on bookings.
Rather, the company plans to generate revenues through advertising while the low transaction costs for travellers will lead to an overall reduction in prices.
Betting on the NEO blockchain
The platform first considered using the Ethereum blockchain, a popular choice for many developers building decentralised marketplaces, but questions abound on Ethereum’s scalability. Currently, Ethereum can handle about 15 transactions per second (TPS). According to the startup, the typical high profile online travel service is handling around a thousand TPS, so Ethereum was not an ideal choice for Concierge.
This is why the developers have turned to the relatively nascent NEO blockchain. The open source software bears a lot of similarities to Ethereum and has been designed for scaling to the needs of the smart economy of digital assets and identity. It uses its own version of smart contracts called NEOcontracts. Crucially, NEO runs about a thousand TPS and with successful optimisation, it could be capable of 10,000 TPS.
The use cases for NEO are increasing and more and more startups are developing on the network.
CGE Token sale
Concierge is running a token sale next month to generate its CGE Token that will fuel the whole marketplace.
A presale that ran in mid-February raised more than $2 million in less than eight hours. The main sale will kick off on March 31. Prior to this sale, the startup will launch the alpha version of the Concierge marketplace so interested investors can see the platform and the CGE Token in action.
The founders have more than two decades of experience in the travel and tourism sector. They know where the pain points are and what needs to be fixed.
Based in Vietnam, Concierge will be focusing first on the Southeast Asian tourism market, a potentially lucrative market to initially deploy the solution. It has 16,000 tours, resorts, and hotels in Southeast Asia and Australia ready for listing once it launches. It has partnered with Vietnamese resort property developer FLC; hotel group Vinpearl; tour operator APT Travel; and Indonesia’s Indivillas.com.
The platform will accept some payments with fiat currency, using Visa and Mastercard in the hopes that seeing Fiat vs. CGE in the one place will encourage users unsure about crypto to make the switch to the token, which will eventually increase the value of the token.
Around 65 percent of the tokens generated will be available in the sale with the remainder going to the founders and for covering future development costs.
The next steps will involve hiring more developers to bring the platform to life and launching a marketing campaign to drive more vendors and customers to the marketplace. In the future, the startup is looking at other features to differentiate itself including deploying augmented and virtual reality apps on the platform.
Using the NEO blockchain will be the one greater differentiator. The startup anticipates that it can be one of the first use cases of the technology to gain significant traction and become a market leader at the intersection of the travel industry and blockchain.