Booking hotels can be an expensive business for consumers once commission fees are added in. And few booking services offer rewards or reasons for travelers to return to the platform, which leads to a “comparison engine” lifestyle.
A hotel booking platform that uses blockchain technology, GOeureka has released the alpha version of its platform, which allows its users to book hotel rooms with zero commission and receive loyalty rewards and benefits, all with no hidden fees.
GOeureka is ahead of many similar blockchain projects, with trial bookings on the blockchain through smart contracts on Ethereum and a significant infrastructure of available hotels. Its board includes C-level executives from Accor Hotels and Agoda, among others.
“ERC-20 smart contracts will be utilized for the security and immutability of data throughout the platform,” GOeureka founder and CEO Manraj Rai told me. “To increase performance and keep transaction fees to a minimum, individual transactions and bookings will be kept outside of the blockchain. The settlement of all transactions will occur off-chain, and fulfilled transactions will be aggregated each day and sent through the smart contract to be validated and stored on the blockchain.”
The problem GOeureka is solving is well known. The existing hotel booking infrastructure is controlled by a handful of booking sites that charge between 10 and 30 percent commission on top of the room rate. Those fees are also not transparent, so consumers don’t get to see how they are calculated. That means the retail price of a single room varies widely depending on transactions between the hotel, the bed bank wholesaler, and the online booking site.
GOeureka’s goal is simple. It wants to reduce the cost of hotel bookings, offer transparency and consistency, and cut out intermediaries by letting the hotel deal directly with the customer. It also enables the traveler to accumulate benefits and rewards. For the hotels, this allows them to reduce the supply chain to the bare minimum, making operations cheaper and more efficient.
Blockchain technology and smart contracts are ideally placed to solve these issues and provide consumers with cheaper, faster, more transparent offers.
“GOeureka chose the Ethereum blockchain due to its flexible and extensible nature,” Rai said. “The use of Ethereum smart contracts allows for the creation of autonomous agents that may be implemented throughout GOeureka’s platform to automate many processes and remove various third parties that usually result in a slower process and multiple transaction fees that lead to high costs.”
The reward program is a significant part of the platform. It helps GOeureka increase loyalty for both itself and its partners. The company has plans to expand this offering beyond hotels, however.
“Like any loyalty program, we will reward the users for transactions made on our platform. And every GOeureka user will accumulate reward points/credits for repeated bookings, and these can then be used to unlock additional travel rewards, like further discounted rates, free airport transfers, and so on,” Rai said. “These rewards will not be limited to the GOeureka platform, as we are also working on collaborations/partnerships with other companies and plan to open up the usability of our points into the retail sector and across other areas of the hospitality industry.”
So what’s next for GOeureka?
“We already have a working web platform that has over 400,000 properties available for booking worldwide and have been using it internally to book our hotel stays in cities like London, Dubai, New York, Singapore, and Malaysia,” Rai said. “We have also opened up test bookings to a group of beta testers and will be gathering and analyzing their feedback over the coming weeks. The current version only accepts payment via fiat, so the next phase is very much focused on enabling cryptocurrency payments and testing bookings on the blockchain with our partner hotels.”
In addition to the company’s roadmap, it will give a winning investor in its token offering access to free hotels for life. That offer does come with some caveats, however.
The offer includes 15 free nights a year with a cap of $250 per night, which equates to $3,750 per year. Over a lifetime of 50 years, this totals around $187,500, which is equivalent to 1.875 million of the company’s 1 billion GOeureka tokens. In other words, it is 0.1875% of GOeureka’s total token pool.
“This will be funded by our reserve token pool, and the lucky user who has access to this benefit will be entitled to a specific number of free nights a year for the rest of their life, with a cap on the nightly room rate,” Rai said. “Terms and conditions do apply here, and we are also working with our partner hotels to obtain preferential rates for this promotion.”
GOeureka’s token sale is ongoing and ends on November 30, 2018.