Like eating, drinking and sleeping, taking the time to get away, go on holiday or to travel is instinctive and an important part of life for many of us, key to our wellbeing and ongoing success. It can motivate, inspire, rejuvenate; and whether it’s a luxury trip abroad, or weekend staycation, in some form or another we all need to take a break. The travel and tourism industry continues to thrive in agreement, directly contributing approximately 2.57 trillion US dollars to the global economy in 2017 alone*.
The popularity of online bookings has inevitably soared as a result, projected to grow to 755.94 billion US dollars in 2019**, with the convenience to browse and book at anytime, anywhere. And yet all is not well with the online travel industry, which is spreading a false sense of choice, affordability and authenticity to its customers — something that the Vado app has set out to cure.
Despite being one of the world’s largest industries, travel and tourism is highly centralised, dominated by only a handful of large organisations. In the US, for example, just two intermediaries control 95 per cent of the Online Travel Agency (OTA) market and two thirds of the global market, while just three travel technology service provider companies own at least 90 per cent of the Global Distribution Systems market.
These affiliate sites for comparing travel deals give a sense of choice to customers, alluding to a range of independent options, when, in reality, we are browsing options provided by only two companies. The result is that we almost never get to access the full inventory of places or locations, restricted instead to only those destinations that are popular or made to appear popular via online marketing efforts.
According to AHLA, 79 per cent of us believe that we are getting better deals via online bookings, but the truth is that room rates, for example, tend to be vastly different from the ones shown online. Often the prices are inflated to begin with, only to be deeply discounted for a limited length of time. This forces us to make a choice immediately or forego the discount, leading us to believe the hotel is then fully booked when it isn’t — not to mention the pressure that’s added by an alert of ‘only one room remaining’. The result gives the impression of greater competition and therefore the best deal on the market, when, in reality, the prices are pretty much fixed. For smaller hotels with lower room rates, it is difficult to fund representation on these sites, which also contributes to a more limited choice for customers.
Directly linked with the problem of centralisation in the industry, is the lack of reliable user-generated content, which may actually be media management or paid promotional endeavours. There are few authentic and independent websites or avenues to read credible reviews or compare bookings — simply because almost all online travel related sites are owned by the top dogs in the industry.
A fairer future
Vado is an app where you can discover new places, get inspired, share your own travel experiences, store your favourite places, upload your own content, plan your dream trip, and share exciting new travel ideas with friends, family and a likeminded community. But more than this, the Vado app is a decentralised, blockchain-powered ecosystem, where travellers can benefit from complete transparency, with the ability to use a variety of travel applications (blockchain-based or otherwise) to suit their custom needs, and without the reliance on a middleman to make bookings.
Vado instead facilitates direct communication with vendors, while reviews and comments on each one will be trustworthy and inalterable. Recommendations can also be personalised to individual tastes with the option to create groups of fellow members you know to be on the same wavelength. To top it off, there will be the opportunity to be rewarded for activities and for the content you create and share.
Blockchain technology will enable smart contracts that will ensure full transparency, accountability and authenticity of all transactions — benefiting the entire ecosystem. So, whether you are a travel blogger, a business looking to reach a new market, or someone who loves to travel (and who doesn’t!), Vado is for you.
Don’t miss our next blog post, where we look at the role of millennials in the big travel industry shake-up.
To follow the development of the Vado app and the journey towards our Beta launch, follow our blog and join Vado’s growing community on Instagram (@vadoapp), Facebook and Twitter. Send us your thoughts and feedback — or share with us your favourites places to feature.