The travel and tourism industries are big economic drivers globally and there’s incredible upside potential in the industry for stakeholders going forward. In 2017, the travel industry grew had grown by $2.3 trillion in 10 years starting 2007, and economists predict that the industry will grow by another $3.5 trillion through 2027.
Despite the impressive growth and upward potential of the travel and tourism industry, the industry still suffers from a fixation of traditional systems and processes. These traditional methods are however ineffective and inefficient; thereby, making it hard for the industry to actualize its full potential. This piece explores how the underlying blockchain technology that powers cryptocurrencies could be a catalyst for growth in the travel and tourism industry.
The travel industry is stuck in an ancient order
The travel industry is being basseted by different challenges, chief of which is the last of reliable information. To begin with, it is very hard to find concise and reliable travel information online because the Internet is more or less a dumping ground. A simple Google search for “the best hotels in Amsterdam” yielded 4.53 million hits and the first four hits were ads. (see image below)
Travelers are then forced to waste valuable time sifting through the information overload to find relevant information. A great deal of time and energy is trying to separate dubious online recommendations, hype, and the often unavoidable marketing pitch from reliably objective reviews. Unfortunately, travelers don’t get much respite from travel agencies which often provide limited information at an expensive price.
Cool Cousin is leveraging blockchain to solve the information problem for the travel industry
Introducing Cool Cousin! As the name implies, when you want to travel, your best shot at getting honest, reliable, experiential information is to reach out to a friend/family member that lives in your destination. Cool Cousin is shaping up to be a valuable source of information for travelers who want heads up from a trusted insider that understands their tastes.
Cool Cousin simply connects travelers with like-minded locals called Cousins. You can trust your “Cousin” to provide you with boots-on-the-ground information on accommodation, commuting, best times to visit, current events, and personal interest among others.
More interesting is the fact Cool Cousin is riding the blockchain and cryptocurrency wave with an open-source cryptographic token called CUZ. The token will help Cool Cousin avoid the trap of decentralization that often makes it impossible for review platforms to maintain their neutrality and affordability while scaling. The CUZ token will serve as a tool for incentivizing community participants to ensure the sustainable flow of authentic and trustworthy travel information.
Will traditional travel players try to fight back?
Interestingly, traditional travel companies don’t seem to be particularly smitten about leveraging blockchain technology to improve the efficiency of their processes and systems. For instance, Priceline CEO Glenn Fogel was reported saying about Blockchain “We’re not going to be worrying about it tomorrow or pouring a lot of investment into it. Of course, our engineers are curious. But from my understanding, they’re saying ‘there are other things you can panic about.”
Expedia Inc’s new CEO Mark Okerstrom, also holds the same sentiments. In an interview session with Skift’s Andrew Sheivachman he noted that he “doesn’t see blockchain as a competitive threat at the moment” even though he admits that he tends to “paranoid over everything”.
However, the traditional players in the travel industry need to sit up and pay attention to the massive disruption that blockchain technology is bringing to the industry. The chart above shows how the shares Expedia Inc and Priceline Group has fared in the last six months that Cool Cousin has been gaining popularity among travelers. In the last six months, Cool Cousin has recorded a 220% user growth up to 550K users in the last six months. In the same period, the startup has increased its community network organically to 3 million.
Of course, it is still somewhat too early to conclude that blockchain will succeed in upending the travel industry. For one, the travel industry is averse to change and the fact that the two biggest players are skeptical about blockchain speaks volume about the industry. Nonetheless, blockchain technology is here to stay and it would be folly to underestimate its disruptive power as a catalyst for change.