Travel and tourism are huge. One of the world's largest industries, the sector has been globally valued at over 7.6 trillion dollars in 2016 and is not slowing any time soon. Does blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies interrupt such a massive market?
Travel and tourism have also undergone a recent change, with social media influencers playing a significant role in promoting flights, accommodation, experiences and vacations through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more.
A social travel and reward platform, Triphop has launched a cryptocurrency travel program that encourages hotel guests to share their experiences on social media in exchange for exclusive benefits such as free room upgrades, benefits in stay and
How does it work, and how does it benefit the traveler and the seller?
Triphop reduces the normally high commissions paid by online travel agencies (OTAs) by encouraging guests to book through its platforms and then promote hotel properties to their social media followers. The company is trying to create a win-win situation by driving traffic to hotels and rewarding guests with exclusive benefits and its crypto-currency Tripcoin.
While it is based on blockchain, Triphop works like a traditional rewards program.
"Social commitment awards will follow the same pattern of living premiums," Triphop CEO and founder Basil Elotol told me. "In addition to prizes, guests will receive free in-stay benefits.The value of the prize will be different depending on the type of task."
While a traveler could typically open an application such as Trivago, Booking.com or Kayak to find the option of a local hotel, Triphop would like to modify this behavior to make it online destination first in the traveler's mind.
Triphop's solution consists of two parts. It is a marketing platform that measures the frequency and reach of a guest's social media accounts, rewarding the traveler not only for publishing online content, but also for the level of engagement and the ratings they get. The company also attempts to improve the overall guest experience by providing benefits and advantages that are customized by the Hotel.
However, travel influencer marketing is a double-edged sword. We have seen some examples of high rally hotels against influencer marketing, especially in cases where the influencer asks for better accommodation due to the size of their network. How does Triphop defend itself from this?
"From Triphop's perspective, we believe there is a difference between the content generated by authentic guests and paid endorsements or the marketing influencer," Elotol said. "We are focused on helping hotels expand their fingerprint through authentic, verified user-generated content while helping travelers maximize outstanding rewards and benefits."
Ultimately, therefore, it is less important to distribute gifts to those who claim to be influencers and more on the gratification of the average traveler. The hotel is free to choose who to reward and how to reimburse its customers for their social efforts.
"Just like with any form of advertising and promotion, the hotel should invest in channels that help them achieve their business goals," Elotol said. "Hotels are starting to realize that influencers are difficult to manage, and it is almost impossible to measure the return on investment in the influence channel, consumers are realizing that influencers are becoming promoters."  So what will happen to the company?
"Triphop will continue to grow its membership base and the network of hotel partners in the immediate future," Elotol said. "We are developing a wider range of benefits for our members and marketing solutions for hotel partners."
A rare beast – a blockchain technology startup that is not vaporware – Triphop has over 80,000 members and works in partnership with 550,000 hotels. It is now available through its website, as well as through its apps for Android and iOS.