We often hear about the potential of blockchain technology to disrupt a variety of industries, from banking and cybersecurity to supply chains and everything in between.

But what does blockchain have to do with vacation rentals?

Blockchain is already being used in the vacation rental industry to build decentralised platforms that: 

  • address some of the market’s biggest challenges and
  • provide an alternative to traditional online travel agencies.

As these projects grow, blockchain will inevitably have an impact on the way we book, market and manage vacation rentals. 

To find out more, we asked Vipin Mahasayan, CIO at EzyStayz and Luca De Giglio, Founder at Trips Community. 

In this blog post, we’ll sum up what we learned from them about the future of blockchain in the short-term rental industry and the role that their respective projects will play in it. 

But first, let’s take a moment to discuss what blockchain is in the first place. 

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a technology that allows digital information to be distributed in a secure and transparent way. It’s often described as an “incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions” (Blockchain Revolution, 2016). 

Blockchain enables the existence of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, but it has many other use cases.

Because of the way that blockchain is built, it’s inherently decentralised. Instead of relying on a single server, it’s made up of a global network of computers that store copies of the same database in blocks. This ensures that the blockchain cannot be controlled by a single entity. 

Much of the conversation around blockchain focuses on how this new technology could fix our broken systems. 

The main issue that the proponents of blockchain point to is that on today’s internet, all data is centrally stored. Thus, it’s not controlled by individual users, but by those who manage the servers that the data is stored on. 

Not only is our data out of our control, but it’s also vulnerable to cyberattacks. This is what blockchain is trying to reinvent. 

Blockchain has the potential to trigger a paradigm shift because it allows us to build completely decentralised organisations and applications that are open, transparent, secure, fast and cheap to use.

How blockchain could transform the vacation rental industry

“Blockchain is disrupting the travel ecosystem with emerging Next Generation Online Travel Agencies helping to streamline processes and solve major pain points in the travel industry.”

Vipin Mahasayan, CIO at EzyStayz

The role of blockchain in vacation rentals is manifold. It can disrupt the industry by empowering users and creating a new, decentralised ecosystem. 

Let’s take a closer look at what this means. 

1. Building decentralised booking platforms

As we’ve mentioned above, all the digital information on today’s internet (Web2) is stored on servers. These servers are controlled by large corporations – in the vacation rental industry, OTAs like Airbnb and Booking.com. 

But, with the help of blockchain technology, data no longer needs to be stored on servers. It can be stored online in a decentralised manner. That’s how Web3 works. 

Companies like Trips Community have a vision to create a “decentralised OTA” on the blockchain, made up of a set of open protocols that power bookings, messaging, payments, reviews and everything else that OTAs do today.

According to Trips Community founder Luca De Giglio, this means “an Airbnb (the platform), without Airbnb (the company).”

So what would this look like for property managers? “Your listings, reviews and bookings won’t sit in the OTA’s servers anymore. They will be on the blockchain and IPFS (The InterPlanetary File System) and you have control over them, not the OTAs,” says Luca.

The most obvious benefit of this is that it’s cheaper. A decentralised, peer-to-peer rental platform isn’t governed by OTA commissions.

But according to Luca, the real benefit is that “companies will own their digital assets.”

This is especially important when it comes to reviews. Luca argues that after years of working with an OTA, you could wake up one day to your account being suspended – and you could lose all your hard-earned reviews. 

“OTAs should not be the custodians of your reputation,” Luca says. With Trips Community and other similar projects built on blockchain, your reviews belong to you – no one else has control over them. 

Of course, traditional OTAs have their own advantages. They reach millions of travellers every day and can provide property managers with lots of visibility.

The growth of Web3 projects does not mean that Web2 will suddenly disappear. The two can coexist.

“Every single company in the space will choose whether to run their business on the old internet or the new one,” Luca explains. 

2. Using cryptocurrencies as a form of payment

Another way that blockchain is transforming vacation rentals is the introduction of cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.

Cryptocurrencies are now widely accepted digital assets across the globe. They have lower processing fees than traditional currencies and make fast, secure and traceable payments possible.

According to Vipin Mahasayan, CIO at EzyStayz, cryptocurrencies represent the core principles of blockchain – power to people, trust and transparency – by rewarding various peers in the blockchain ecosystem.

“The global crypto market cap is $373.34B and this can factor to a huge market share for utility and purchase of travel services where crypto can be accepted as a form of payment,” Vipin says.

In fact, blockchain-powered listing sites like EzyStayz have their own cryptocurrencies that travellers can use in a variety of ways. The native cryptocurrency of the EzyStayz platform is called EZY coin (ERC-20 token). 

“This token is the key to unlocking all of the great potential benefits that blockchain can provide travellers with, including member’s benefits and staking rewards. It can be used for travel, staking, gaming, and can be exchanged on top crypto exchanges for a value. There are growing redemption market places where you can use digital assets to shop online for groceries, paying bills, and more,” he says.

Travellers can acquire and exchange EZY tokens through bookings on EzyStayz.com and its growing network of affiliates. “Users can also buy, sell and trade them directly through leading exchanges like ProBit (USDT and BTC pairs) or directly from EZY wallet and exchange platform,” Vipin adds.

Trips Community also has its own cryptocurrency called Trips tokens. Luca and his team used these tokens to pay the people who helped them build the Trips Community platform. The tokens were worthless at the time, but they have since started gaining value and are now on the market for about $0,13 each. 

Used this way, cryptocurrencies incentivise collaboration and reward early adopters. “This is a new field of collaborative strategies called tokenomics, which strives to find better ways to synchronize human activity, beyond the tried and tested corporation model,” Luca says. 

Trips tokens will also serve as a form payment for bookings and can be given to property managers and guests as rewards. You can buy them on platforms like Uniswap.

3. Improving loyalty programmes with tokenisation

As we’ve seen from the above examples, tokens have other important uses besides serving as a form of payment. They can also transform loyalty and reward programmes. 

“By tokenising reward programmes and transforming them into a decentralised network of value, loyalty programs could become what customers really want them to be,” Vipin says. “Firstly, they could expose a range of products and services from different providers. Secondly, rewards could be easily exchanged if points are tokenised into digital assets.”

As a result, customers would be able to compare the relative value of schemes and the rewards they offer. 

For example, customers who join the EzyStayz rewards club can get up to 40% discount on bookings and instant cashback in EZY token. 

“EzyStayz has bonus games to help you to earn more EZY token so that you can use them to book travel services. EzyStayz is also listed on top crypto exchanges for liquidity on tokens,” Vipin says. 

4. Increasing data privacy and security

Last but not least, blockchain technology allows for a level of privacy and security that isn’t possible on traditional platforms. 

“Blockchain technology provides the ability to protect data from malicious attackers, preventing potential fraud and reducing the chance of data being stolen or compromised,” says Vipin. 

No to mention secure payments. By accepting cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, booking sites built on blockchain can provide safe and transparent payment options. 

For example, the EzyStayz blockchain system uses a highly secure multi-signature digital wallet capable of storing a variety of cryptocurrencies. This means that EzyStayz users can make secure crypto payments without the need for debit cards or bank accounts.

Blockchain-enabled vacation rental listing sites

And now, let’s take a look at the vacation rental booking sites that use blockchain technology to provide an alternative way of booking and paying for travel accommodation. 

1. EzyStayz

blockchain and vacation rentals - EzyStayz

EzyStayz is a next-generation online travel agency committed to harnessing the power of blockchain. Its marketplace offers a fast and secure architecture for storing data and information along with high security and transparency.

The innovations that EzyStayz has implemented so far include:

  • EzyStayz Rewards: Members of the EzyStayz Reward Club can save on accommodation bookings and get instant cashback in EZY tokens. 
  • EzyStayz Blockchain Solution: The integration of blockchain into EzyStayz operations allows the company to offer a myriad of peer-to-peer services not currently available in the home rental market. 
  • Digital Wallet: EzyStayz has developed an in-house digital wallet app for supporting the EZY token. It allows users to interact with different blockchains and easily send and receive digital currency.

Did you know that EzyStayz is one of 18 new listing sites coming soon to Rentals United? You’ll soon be able to list your properties on the EzyStayz platform and automatically update your availability and pricing using the Rentals United channel manager. Stay tuned!

2. Trips Community

blockchain and vacation rentals - trips community

Trips Community is a 100% peer-to-peer vacation rental platform. Built by owners and guests and owned by all, it’s a blockchain-based community that lets guests book rentals directly, cutting out the middleman.

Founder Luca de Giglio hopes that by 2021, Trips Community will “mature into a working DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) where value is created and shared automatically and governance is decentralised.”

The goal is to create open protocols that allow vacation rental companies to gain independence and control over their digital assets. 

3. Travala

blockchain and vacation rentals - Travala

Travala is a cryptocurrency-friendly accommodation booking platform that allows guests to pay using their favourite cryptocurrencies.

The native cryptocurrency of Travala is called AVA (BEP-2 token standard). The token incentivises guests to book with Travala as it provides additional benefits, valuable rewards and enhanced user engagement.

As the Travala platform grows, AVA tokens will become an integral part of the experience and form a healthy internal token economy.

4. StayBit

blockchain and vacation rentals - StayBit

StayBit is a decentralised, peer-to-peer short-term rental booking system. It reduces transaction costs 2-3 times compared to OTAs, makes international payments easy and increases payment security. 

StayBit has released the alpha version of its Minimal Viable Product (MVP), which you can run using a Web3 browser.

StyBit aims to mature into a socially-enabled listing site with an automated escrow service and mobile apps for both property managers and guests with built-in digital wallets. 

Are you ready to build a tech-based distribution strategy? Discover how our enterprise-level Channel Manager can get you more bookings.