Blockchains Are Coming for Travel Agents

Despite geopolitical and domestic turmoil, global economies seem to be on steady footing. At the beginning of the year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its guidance for the world’s economies, noting that “global growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019 have been revised upward by 0.2 percentage point to 3.9 percent. The revision reflects increased global growth momentum and the expected impact of the recently approved U.S. tax policy changes.”

Thus far, economic announcements have proved generally positive, in accordance with the IMF’s forecast. In the United States, for example, Q4 2017 real GDP growth was revised upwards to 2.9 percent, a strong reading after Q2 and Q3 2017’s readings of 3.1 and 3.2 percent, respectively. This bodes well for industries that outperform during times of economic expansion, like the travel industry, for example. Tourism and travel companies are certainly hoping that 2018 will be another year of trillion dollar revenues.

Within the industry, some interesting trends are emerging. Some predict the emergence of disruptive technologies that will put traditional companies out of business–or at the very least, force some dramatic changes. Others believe that 2018 will be the “Year of the Travel Agent“, citing an increasing demand for specialized travel advice, and noting how travel agents provide a level of expertise that vacationers crave.

Still, some companies are working on revolutionary platforms that combine up and coming technologies–blockchain, for example–with traditional business models like travel agencies. One company, Cool Cousin, has a thriving, highly rated iOS app that lets users find guides and tips created by destination locals. The main goal of the app is to provide travelers with the best, most trusted local tips, creating what one author describes as a crucial trend for the travel industry: “authentic, challenging and participatory experiences where trusting strangers in strange lands is an operating feature.”

In other words, the Cool Cousin app provides what many vacationers desire but are hard pressed to find–authentic, local experiences independent of the tourist scenes that dominate popular destinations like New York City, London, and Paris. In addition, the Cool Cousin team is working with blockchain developers to implement crucial changes to the platform, changes which will help local tip givers and foreign travelers alike.

How Blockchain Technology Will Change the Cool Cousin Platform

The overarching goal of Cool Cousin’s blockchain upgrade is to power a decentralized peer to peer travel agency, optimized for the sharing economy. The app’s fundamental nature won’t change–it will still allow travelers to use guides and tips created by locals. However, the underlying infrastructure of the platform will change, creating a more secure and cost-effective app.

Every transaction on the updated platform will be secured by smart contracts, pieces of code that automatically execute the terms of a contract once its conditions are met. This means that all transactions on the Cool Cousin platform will be secured by the blockchain and impossible to manipulate. For locals, this means that their payments are secure–they don’t have to worry about a traveler using their guide and then failing to pay. For travelers, this means that expensive third parties are removed, keeping fees, commissions, and general costs much lower.

What’s more, the platform will also incorporate the CUZ coin, a decentralized cryptocurrency that will allow users from any country to transact in any country. This will save both parties exchange and currency fees, boosting local guide profit margins and keeping traveling costs lower. Additionally, the peer to peer nature of the platform will eliminate the high fees associated with travel agents and other traveling services, which can cost up anywhere from $100-$200.

If Cool Cousin gets their way, the whole notion of a travel agent will be radically redefined. No longer will vacationers have to hand over large sums of money to have someone else plan a touristy vacation. Instead, travelers can access the emerging decentralized peer to peer economy and receive travel tips at low costs from locals themselves. This is a trend worth watching.

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