Thanks to the internet and online applications, tourism and traveling have never been easier. We’re long past the era when travel agencies dominated the market, and now online services are the norm.
However, we ask a simple question: is it possible for those platforms to eventually become outdated too?
That’s what Concierge thinks. A Vietnamese startup with operations in the UK, the company aims to be a global online travel booking marketplace by using the NEO decentralized engine and blockchain, a technology that’s increasingly showing the many ways it can be used beyond cryptocurrency.
With its global market, the idea behind Concierge is to cut out the middleman out of the equation and offer peer-to-peer communication between travelers and vendors. This will be done with a token currency that the company has already started to sell. The idea: to use it as a decentralized method for transactions.
According to the company, up to 50% of the value of a transaction is left to the platform handling it, increasing prices for everyone in the market. In contrast, Concierge plans to enable direct dealing with 0% commission on the vendor’s end. For travelers, transactions will be 30% lower than competing platforms like Expedia, Booking or Airbnb.
Concierge is using NEOcontracts to build its token on the public blockchain with pre-setup static nodes. The company says that these smart contracts contain several sub-contracts, including the main contract which serves as the main entrance to the system for users and reserve managers.
The user can access features like a virtual wallet, which has a user-friendly interface and integrates with existing wallet apps.
NEO supports faster development and deployment of smart contracts and projects, explains the company, because it enables developers to build on programming languages already familiar with them.
“We provide various advanced languages in the form of compiler,” says founder Da Hongfei. “Besides .Net and Java, we will support Python and Go in the future which can cover more than 90 percent of developers. Compared with Ethereum, development has more smooth learning curve and shorter learning circle, allowing for fast introduction of projects.”
Another reason for ditching Ethereum was the fact that the platform had a limit of up to 15 transactions per second, a number dwarfed by the typical 1.000 transactions done by a travel platform. That’s why NEO was ultimately chosen.
It’s true that blockchain might seem like just a buzzword, but Concierge has good reasons for why it thinks the technology can change the entire industry.
The first is transparent and systematic recording. The platform incorporates verifiable records, which confirms that a transaction has followed the correct procedures. Consumers can rest easily knowing that payments will be made instantly while registering the terms of the deal over the blockchain.
“Blockchain allows us to move away from traditional methods of transaction fees often ranging between 1% to 10% set as flat fees regardless of transaction sizes,” explains the company as their second reason.
In theory, this will significantly reduce the cost of a transaction, leading to savings for all parties involved. In traveling, where currency exchange is key when traveling to another country, a decentralized token economy could certainly leave a lot of complications behind.
Then there are automated disputes. The platform will have what the company calls “a systematic autonomous dispute function within the marketplace.” The ecosystem will operate all standard disputes based on the evidence provided by the parties involved.
All cases will be assessed thoroughly and constantly monitored by the team. So for example, if a guest had a negative experience in the hotel where they were staying, like finding a dirty room, offering evidence like photos could lead to a refund.
Finally, in the peer-to-peer communication Concierge aims, a key aspect where blockchain will help is by creating a chat where vendors and travelers will be able to interact directly–the first of its kind, according to the company. These conversations will be hidden in the blockchain itself.
Concierge does admit that their token may be influenced by Digital currency market trends and severely depreciate its value due to related events within the cryptocurrency world as in any token offering. Cryptocurrency in its current state is extremely volatile, after all.
However, the company does have a roadmap that it expects to realize. For example, expanding to related services such as taxi booking, rent-a-car and other kinds of transportation. Even technologies like AR and VR could be explored for a more immersive browsing experience.