Websites like TripAdvisor and AirBnB have completely changed the way we travel. We went from having no option but to stay in stuffy, overpriced hotels, to being able to stay in what is essentially a ‘home away from home’ – and for a fraction of the price.
Similarly, instead of relying on tour guides to tell us what we should do and where we should visit in each country we stay in, we now have the ability to make our own itineraries based on unbiased reviews from thousands of other travelers from around the world who are just like us.
But blockchain technology could be about to make websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and AirBnB completely redundant.
The Rise of Blockchain Technology
For its time, AirBnB was revolutionary. Of course, while most people loved it, many of its rivals objected, complaining that it was breaking laws.
We can draw many parallels between this and the people who are complaining about the issues that come with decentralization.
However, despite the criticism from large organizations who stand to lose out as a result of the innovation welcomed by the blockchain, it’s becoming increasingly clear that blockchain technology is here to stay.
Combining Blockchain and Tourism
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries. In 2016, it had a market value of over $2.6 trillion – and it is projected to grow with each passing year. By 2027, the travel industry is projected to be worth approximately $3.5 trillion.
The growth in the travel industry can largely be attributed to millennials – the largest living generation – who are known for their increased spending power and decreased desire to purchase physical products in favor of spending a greater percentage of their salary on experiences instead.
Similarly, over 80% of millennials have reported that they want to experience the places they visit like a local, as opposed to a tourist.
AirBnB was a great start towards filling this need – and it has been highly successful as a result – but it is clear that there is still a gap in the market for similar services.
A Friend in Every City in the World…
The most valuable and reliable source of information about a particular location is likely to be from a friend who lives there. A friend knows you, knows your taste, and knows whether a particular location would suit you and what kind of things you could do there.
Of course, most of us don’t have a reliable friend in every single destination we choose to visit…but the new blockchain startup, Cool Cousin, could be the next best thing…
Cool Cousin has been specially designed to directly connect travelers with like-minded locals, who they refer to as ‘cousins’.
The platform allows users to search through a list of locals – or ‘cousins’ – in the location they’re looking to visit, and reach out to them for help and advice. Cousins will then provide personalized advice to users to help them out on their trip.
The application has proved to be very popular with users thus far, and has been crowned by the National Geographic, New York, LA Times, The Guardian, and USA Today as a “must have app for travelers”.
A Decentralized Travel Agency That Enables Personal Connection
Despite fears that websites like TripAdvisor would render travel agents redundant and that the industry is dying, this has not been the case.
In fact, the number of millennials making use of travel agents to book their holidays is on the rise. It is predicted that one-third of millennials are active users of travel agents and intend to use one in the next two years. This number is up 19 points from 2011, and 12 points from 2014.
More than anything, it proves that with their growing paying power and desire for time saving, they are willing to pay an expert for easily digestible and trustworthy information that will improve their trip.
Platforms like Cool Cousin will provide many of the benefits of using a travel agent – without the cost – by allowing them to access convenient and reliable information. Most importantly, it brings together users from all over the world and encourages authentic connections.
There are few things that are more reassuring than knowing that no matter where you travel, there will always be someone close by that you can rely on to give you a helping hand when you need it.
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