Housing estate, UK, aerial view. (Photo by Phil Starling/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty … [+]
A travel booking site backed by the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, is preparing to launch a decentralized, blockchain-based competitor to Airbnb called Dtravel.
The service, which will be integrated on the Travala.com platform, will offer hosts and guests a decentralized platform to rent out rooms or homes similarly to Airbnb’s core business. However, it will be governed entirely by users holding the service’s TRVL token, according to Travala.com co-founder and CEO, Juan Otero. Dtravel will launch on Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain on June 16.
“The main goal here is that Dtravel will be focusing exclusively on homes and that homes vertical will be integrated on the Travala.com platform”, says Otero. “Dtravel is going to be built to become a frictionless on-ramp into crypto and, just like it can become one of the largest and most decentralized DAOs in the world, it can also become one of the best use cases for crypto because travel is one of the best vehicles for crypto adoption, everybody travels, especially going into the post-covid phase.”
Founded in 2017, Travala.com is a centralized booking site that allows travelers to pay for accommodations, flights, and activities with its native token AVA, in addition to 40 other cryptocurrencies. It has over 3 million listings — including flights, hotel accommodation, or activities — and generates over $1 million in revenue per week, of which over 70% of which is paid in crypto.
Travala positions Dtravel as complementary to its core services as the UK-based travel site does not offer homeshare accommodations. Otero noted that Dtravel is a separate business model that will work in tandem with the centralized site.
Dtravel is backed by a $5M seed fundraising round from Kenetic Capital, Future Perfect Ventures, DHVC, Plutus VC, GBV Capital, AU21 Capital, Shima Capital, LD Capital and NGC Ventures, as well as several angel investors. It is being led by executives from Expedia, Airbnb and others. The investors received tokens in exchange for their funds.
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From a competitive perspective, Dtravel’s fees will be lower than Airbnb fees, which stand between 14% – 16% of the booking subtotal. Dtravel will charge a 7.5% fee, with 1.0% going towards a protection pool to provide insurance to hosts. The other 6.5% will go into a community treasury, which will be spent to hire developers to make platform upgrades or to create user incentives according to the platform’s needs, as dictated by community voting.
The timing is auspicious for the travel and tourism industry, which is poised to thrive as the world economy reopens. In 2019, it contributed $9,258 billion to worldwide GDP, according to Statista. Additionally, the homeshare market is booming. Airbnb has become a dominant player in the industry with a valuation of $92.33 billion, which is more than the valuations of international hotel chains Marriott, $46.53 billion, and Hilton, 35.56 billion, combined. The sheer size and reach of the travel industry leads Travala.com co-founder and CEO, Juan Otero, to believe that travel could play a critical role in onboarding the masses into the crypto industry.
However, the ultimate success of this platform will depend on a few key factors. Dtravel is what’s called a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). Instead of relying on people to perform many of the tasks, the rules of the company are written as code called smart contracts that execute on top of the blockchain. TRVL token-holders will be able to participate in running the company. It will also have to find a way to succeed where other decentralized alternatives to the sharing economy have failed.
Having a fair and equitable distribution system, as well as obtaining listings on leading exchanges, will all be critical factors in the health of Dtravel’s DAO and governance. Otero says Travala will not own any TRVL. However, when asked about the specifics of who will own how much TRVL, how it will launch and its issuance schedule, Dtravel provided initial responses via a shared document, only to delete them at Otero’s request.
Privacy and security are also big concerns in the sharing economy, and they are even more prized in the crypto industry. Therefore, Dtravel will also need to find a way to protect renters and hosts alike without being unnecessarily invasive. When asked about privacy, Otero noted that the platform will offer verification check options for hosts and guests. For instance, hosts will need to verify that they already own an existing listing on a major home-sharing platform and provide a form of identification. Forbes was told that Dtravel developers are additionally working on a decentralized identity proof for guests. The platform will also feature a review process for both hosts and guests, similarly to on Airbnb.
While initially Dtravel is integrated with Travala.com, token holders could in theory vote to expand into hotel and flight booking to be in direct competition with the centralized site or could even vote to de-integrate from Travala.com all together. However, Otero doesn’t see this happening.
“We are confident that the Dtravel community, which will also be kickstarted with a lot of the Travala community, will always see the benefit in the relationship between Travala.com and Dtravel,” Otero said.
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Author: Emily Mason, Contributor