How Touriocity Will Tokenise the $183 Billion Travel Activities Market

A Case Study on OST Partner Company Touriocity

Selfie sticks, a melting gelato and about 300 fellow tourists blocking your view of the famous Trevi Fountain. Oh, the joys of mass tourism. What you wouldn’t give for some quality time, far away from all the tour buses.

This yearning for exclusivity is what inspired Alex Grant and Jimmy Kennedy to start their own tour company nearly ten years ago in Rome, called Roman Empire Tours. The two Irishmen decided their tours would stand out from the crowd, pun intended, by focusing on “intimate, tailored private tours.”

We spotted a clear trend in the requests we were receiving: People were moving away from the ‘cookie-cutter’ tours in favour of customised tours that meet their interests.
Alex Grant, Founder & CEO of Touriocity

Their Italian adventure resulted in the founding of Touriocity in 2013. The London-based company offers personalised tours in more than 50 cities all over the world, organising excursions in partnership with Insider City Guides, Marriott (Autograph Hotels), Hilton and Gatwick Airport.

Touriocity doesn’t do crowds. Photo by Alicia Steels on Unsplash

While travellers used to opt for package deals including all-you-can-eat wristbands, the rising trend in the travel sector are highly individualised sightseeing tours and off the beaten path excursions with skip-the-line tickets.

Touriocity brings savvy travellers and knowledgeable tour guides together on their platform, allowing tourists to plan their very own excursions in a city of choice.

The increasing demand for exclusive excursions, attractions, and dining
 — aggregated as travel activities — stems from the fact that millennials will make up 50% of the travelling demographic by 2020. According to a study conducted by DCS Plus in 2016, the affluent millennial traveller is willing to spend a lot more for “unique, personalised, and experience-based travel.”

Tourism industry research giant Phocuswright reported in 2017 that the travel activities segment makes up for 10% of the global travel market, outsizing train ticket sales, and car rentals.

Phocuswright forecasts the millennial-powered activities segment to reach a market size of $183 billion by 2020.

The tourism industry is growing double digits every year, with travel activities making up for 10% of the global market. It’s also the fastest growing segment.

Tokenisation to spur growth

Tour guides are the very backbone of Touriocity: They plan and organise excursions, act as ambassadors for the platform and they are the human link between platform and end-use. Naturally, Touriocity wants to take good care of them.

But, as Alex explained in his one-on-one session with José, it’s hard taking care of your guides when it’s such a hassle to transfer payments to their accounts. For example: It’s almost impossible to wire transfer money straight into a Cuban bank account, and Moroccan guides need Western Union to act as an intermediary.

Local guides let you explore cities through their eyes… Photo by Jose A.Thompson on Unsplash

Coming up with a one-fits-all payment process was what inspired Touriocity to look into blockchain about four years ago.

Says Alex: “It took me a long time to wrap my head around blockchain technology, and while the idea of decentralising Touriocity was interesting, we didn’t want to jump in and change our whole business model.”

When we came across OST, we saw an opportunity to slowly adopt blockchain into our business model by moving simple payments and user-to-user transactions on-chain without needing a dedicated blockchain team.
— Alex Grant, Founder & CEO of Touriocity

Touriocity was announced as a signed OST Partner Company in March this year, right in time for the OST KIT Alpha II: Developers POC challenge.

Touriocity’s Proof of Concept focused on demoing two types of transactions:

  1. Customers paying tour guides in TOUR coins
  2. Rewarding tour guides for joining the Touriocity platform

Now that Touriocity got to appreciate how they could easily launch and utilise their own Branded Token, the team joined the third OST KIT Alpha challenge to integrate the OST Ledger and Balance APIs:

Touriocity was among the first OST Partner Companies to launch their Branded Token, Tourio, on Mainnet by staking real OST.

Asked about future transaction models, Alex shared the following with us:

Guides:

  • Get tips paid out in tokens
  • Get rewarded for referring fellow guides to the platform
  • Get rewarded for positive reviews

Customers:

  • Earn tokens for booking a tour (can be redeemed for future bookings)
  • Earn tokens for referring friends to the platform
  • Earn tokens for their own content, like itineraries and extensive reviews

Touriocity wants their Branded Token to be the sole method of payment once tokens can be exchanged directly for fiat money.

We’re on a mission to decentralise the entire platform over time. It’s a slow process, but this is really the end goal.
— Alex Grant, Founder & CEO of Touriocity

Alex Grant sat down with José Mota to talk about the early beginnings of Touriocity, how blockchain will boost their business and why they chose OST to bring their token economy to life.


About OST

OST blockchain infrastructure empowers new economies for mainstream businesses and emerging DApps. OST leads development of the OpenST Protocol, a framework for tokenizing businesses. In September 2018 OST introduced the OpenST Mosaic Protocol for running meta-blockchains to scale Ethereum applications to billions of users. OST KIT is a full-stack suite of developer tools, APIs and SDKs for managing blockchain economies. OST Partners reach more than 200 million end-users. OST has offices in Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, and Pune. OST is backed by leading institutional equity investors including Tencent, Greycroft, Vectr Ventures, 500 Startups.