We’re in the middle of vast disruption across many industries. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain are the main ingredients to many of these changes. And yet, somehow, one industry has managed to remain rigid in the face of revolution – the travel industry. It is not due to lack of effort, though. Many startups have tried their luck. But because of the virtual monopoly that the current big players have over the industry, progression seems impossible. Winding Tree, a new Blockchain startup, aims to change that by cutting out the “middle man.”
Creating a Level Playing Field
The major travel companies currently hold the industry hostage by controlling the inventory (lodging, transportation, activities, etc.). Winding Tree is using Blockchain to wrestle control back to the public. Blockchain is all about decentralization and transparency.
Winding Tree aims to reduce travel expenses for the consumer and make the industry more profitable for suppliers. The company thinks this is possible by cutting out the “middle men.” Suppliers will be able to distribute inventory to points of sale directly. The startup also promises that there will be no barriers to entry or markup fees for users purchasing this inventory.
“No intermediaries means no exorbitant transaction fees and no barriers for entry. Moreover, we allow small companies to compete with big players, finally bringing innovation back into the travel industry.”
The founders of Winding Tree consider it “a blockchain-powered B2B marketplace for travel inventory.” It is currently the only open-source, public Blockchain travel platform. It is built on public Ethereum. The company has its own scarce-supply currency, Líf. Líf’s token pre-sale is slated for September 18th. Travel companies can already pre-purchase the new token with a bonus right now. The Initial Coin Offering (ICO) date has not been announced yet.
Líf will serve as the main currency on Winding Tree. Suppliers have to use Líf to pay the miner’s fee if they want to list inventory on the Blockchain. Travellers or agencies can reserve lodging or perform any other sort of travel-related transaction with Líf. Winding Tree will allow users to convert Líf to fiat currencies during a transaction in order to avoid any concerns about the currency’s volatility. Doing an inventory search (pulling and reading Blockchain data) will cost nothing
Cheaper, Better, Faster, Stronger
So you may have noticed that we’ve left out what exactly Winding Tree is so far. Winding Tree’s platform is a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). It’s not an app and won’t have a user interface. It is actually trying to encourage more technological innovation.
Developers will be able to utilize the Winding Tree APIs as a basic infrastructure to build their own unique solutions (decentralized applications, new protocols, etc.) off of. The APIs planned for release will allow for seamless integration. OTA, NDC, and HTNG and other industry-known data exchange standards will be supported.
Winding Tree is open-source, so developers will be able to examine the code and recommend any changes they think will improve the platform. As open-source has done for other industries, this could be the start of the biggest collaboration among developers in the travel industry. Blockchain itself also strives for innovation at the protocol layer.
HTTP, FTP, TCP/IP, or other shared Internet protocols did not historically pan out too well financially for most investors. But Google, Facebook, and other companies built on top of these protocols have been wildly successful.
Keeping the Community in Mind
Winding Tree is far from the only company trying to use Blockchain to disrupt the travel industry. Webjet focuses on tracking hotel room inventory through a private version of Ethereum. TUI Group, the largest travel company in the world, is also trying to cut out “middle men” by using a private Ethereum version. S7 Airlines is trying to expedite deal settlements between agents and airlines through – you guessed it – a private Ethereum version.
Winding Tree is the only one utilizing a public Blockchain. This one distinction speaks magnitudes about the difference in philosophies between Winding Tree and the other companies mentioned. The Switzerland-based non-profit foundation wants to support community projects and will use funds from the sale of Líf to support this cause.
Lots of travel industry insiders are optimistic about the future of Winding Tree and its ability to tackle some of the long-standing issues still plaguing the industry. Most think that small companies and passionate startups will be the first adopters of Winding Tree since they need a cheaper way to list and access inventories. Bigger companies will join in as well if the momentum generated is enough. The founders have expressed interest in all sorts of companies and travelers utilizing their APIs and see it as a way to thwart the current monopolization of the travel industry.