A fresh cryptocurrency-based rewards model is emerging in the travel industry, touting potentials to shift the power from distribution giants to smaller travel providers.
In May, WeGoGo launched an initial coin offering of WeGold, a digital token that users can earn through performing various actions, from making travel recommendations to travel do-gooding such as participating in beach cleaning on their trips or providing eco-tips to fellow users on the platform.
By incentivising users to raise the visibility of longtail providers such as local surf and dive schools and integrating these providers into the travel rewards ecosystem, WeGoGo says it promotes a “fair share” model where smaller players are adequately rewarded rather than marginalised as in the case of traditional distribution systems.
Another rewards model has emerged as US-based KeyoCoin announces plans to launch what it says is “the world’s first universal travel rewards programme built on the blockchain”.
Similar to WeGogo, it says it is “on a mission to shift power from the few big players” and put it in the hands of travellers and travel providers.
KeyoCoin says its technology will give hospitality, tour and local experience providers and any merchant the means to offer customers cryptocurrency rewards for either making purchases, or completing location-based travel challenges (e.g. in the style of Pokémon Go, Amazing Race).
Travellers will be able to redeem KeyoCoins for accommodation, tours and activities, tip staff or gift to friends and family heading off on trips of their own.
The platform is already supported by an app that features over 12,000 tours and activities products in four US markets and six Latin American countries, with hotels to be added soon.
The startup’s advisory team includes head of social media at Apple, Rick Savage; Ethereum investor, Federico Pistono; vice president at Oracle, Layla Revis; former vice president at Live Nation, Tamara Camp; SEO director at IGN, Marat Gaziev; and Les Clefs d’Or Concierge of the Year, Sarah Dandashy.
Matt Baer, CEO and founder of KeyoCoin, commented: “The travel industry is no stranger to loyalty programmes, but only airlines and large hotel chains have had the resources and reach to actually make them work for customers that are on the move. Even then, these programs are shackled by restrictions that make the rewards uninspiring to earn, a pain to manage, and frustrating to share or redeem.”
Sarah Dandashy, head of travel and hospitality for KeyoCoin, added: “The hospitality and tourism industry, now more than ever, is overflowing with innovative and unique travel experiences. These hidden gems are the exact experiences that today’s travellers so eagerly want to have, and yet there has always been a gap in connecting local experience providers with travellers. Eighty per cent of this exciting market has yet to make it online, and those that have are largely at the mercy of OTAs that charge high commission.”