Blockchain project Winding Tree is going after the multitrillion-dollar travel industry with an open source, decentralized travel distribution platform that promises to make travel cheaper for end users by cutting out expensive middlemen.
The global travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution of over US$7.6 trillion in 2016, but it’s been dominated by large intermediaries with Expedia and Priceline alone representing 95% of the industry market in the US.
“There is a big problem in the online travel industry today, in which the distribution landscape in travel is dominated by a handful of companies, which manipulate the prices to their benefit, hindering competition and innovation,” said Pedro Anderson, one of the founders and COO of Winding Tree. “Winding Tree Foundation’s non-profit approach is presenting a democratic, transparent, decentralized solution to this issue.”
Using blockchain technology, Winding Tree aims to eliminate the unnecessary costs imposed on consumers by suppliers and intermediaries by removing layers of intermediation.
Essentially, Winding Tree will be a set of smart contracts on Ethereum with a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) governance platform.
Winding Tree, overseen by Swiss non-profit organization the Winding Tree Foundation, will connect suppliers, such as hotels and airlines, and sellers, such as travel agencies, to a single marketplace. Suppliers will be able to put information about their availability and price onto the database, where it is easily discoverable by sellers. Sellers will be able to buy a particular inventory and pay for it instantly. All these interactions are to be performed without human intervention.
Winding Tree will only charge a small transaction fee to incentivize miners part of the network.
The project is overseen and maintained by a Switzerland-registered non-profit foundation called the Winding Tree Foundation, which is responsible for developing and promoting the platform and community.
Winding Tree comes at a time when an increasing number of firms in the space are developing and implementing their own blockchain platforms.
Webjet, a publicly traded online travel service from Australia, partnered with Microsoft last year for a blockchain online booking platform. The solution tracks the inventory of hotel rooms around the world using a private version of Ethereum.
TUI Group, a multinational travel and tourism company headquartered in Germany, has already transferred its entire hotel inventory into a private version of Ethereum to cut out middlemen.
In Russia, S7 Airlines and Alfa-Bank launched in July a new ticket sales solution based on Ethereum, which automates trading operations.
Meanwhile, San Diego-based Innfinity Software Systems is looking to rebuild the back-end of the Innfinite online booking tool using blockchain technology. The company said that blockchain will enable the Innfinite online booking tool, a corporate travel booking engine for flights, hotels and rental cars, to provide travel management companies and their corporate clients with richer content and more flexible contracting options.