What if a hotel you had booked knew whether you liked a glass of red wine, knew your preference for a particular beer or if you had a liking for a cream tea without having to talk to them, and all through a digital profile?
Well, that may soon become a reality.
Meet Rana Mukherji, the founder and CEO of Hotelier Coin, a new decentralised platform using the Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts to simplify the hotel booking process.
Through the blockchain, Hotelier Coin intends to create a digital revolution by enabling all users to sell and trade bulk room nights like a commodity for the first time. Through its borderless hotel currency, the HTL token, investors will trade branded and unbranded hotel rooms via the platform’s secondary marketplace with an ask and bid process, the Hotelier Coin decentralized exchange (DEX).
Starting with access to 170,000 hotels across 185 cities, the platform is a B2B, B2C and peer-to-peer (P2P) service that is aiming to become a one-stop shop for the hospitality industry. Everyone in the value chain will benefit with no middlemen, high fees or lack of efficiency.
With our DApp, powered by blockchain, travelers have access to an enhanced experience with a straightforward booking system that provides verified reviews and generates preference profiling, explained Mukherji. The hotel operator will now understand guests with unique insights provided by the platform. Guest information and data will also be secured within the blockchain, identified by the unique digital identification.
Travelers using the Hotelier Coin platform can book a hotel of their choice whereupon the appropriate amount of HTL is debited from their balance. Alternatively, travelers will also have the option of paying with their Hotelier Coin debit card, powered by CrowdBank, a Singapore-based fintech wallet and crypto bank on the NEO blockchain, in partnership with Hotelier Coin.
The decentralized platform is also working with Australia-based RMS, the Hospitality Cloud, a software company that specializes in online booking, channel management and front office systems to the world’s hospitality sector, and TI Infotech, a company based in India, which powers Hotelier Coin’s secondary marketplace.
Revamping the industry
As a hotelier at heart, Mukherji has been managing, operating and running luxury hotels across the Middle East, India, North America and Africa for nearly two decades. Some of the leading brands he’s worked with include Marriott, Regent-Carlson, Fairmont, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Bespoke Hotels U.K.
Prior to starting Hotelier Coin, he worked as a general manager for IFA Hotel Investments, a $2 billion company listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, with multiple hospitality assets managed by leading luxury brands.
During a trip to the Mediterranean in 2016, the inspiration came to create his own boutique hotel company. Traveling to London, Italy, Malta, Croatia and Montenegro he met several stand-alone hotel owners who discussed their day-to-day business challenges.
However, some of them wanted to sell off the business as they were tired of managing multiple moving parts in hospitality compounded with several tech solutions, Mukherji said. The sinking profitability due to high booking fees didn’t help. It forced them to reduce their staff to cut costs and, day after day, their online visibility was diminishing.
He added that it was during this time that he was fortunate enough to be exposed to the blockchain. As a result, he realised the potential of a decentralised service and how an open source platform powered by its own currency could dramatically benefit the hospitality industry.
According to the Hotelier Coin lightpaper, it is proposing a 360° solution with the HTL token, that will synchronise the market. Mukherji states that it will address the most pressing challenges in the sector, by launching a platform that disrupts inefficiency in the industry.
Figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), estimate that the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide is going to continue steadily increasing, reaching 1.8 billion by 2030. In 2017, global travel industry gross bookings reached $1.6 trillion, data from Deloitte shows.
Yet, while the industry is booming, it is the established online travel agencies and branded hotels that conquer. Last year, for instance, Expedia’s annual revenue reached $10.6 billion. Expedia and Priceline both provide robust access to a large number of clients, but at the same time they also charge high booking fees, in the region of 15% to 20%. On top of that are the fees banks charge, around 2.5% to 5%. Revenue that eventually gets to the hotel owner is a small percentage of what it could have been.
Our mission is to give hotel owners complete control over their hotel rooms – a highly perishable commodity, which can be sold as high as $1,000 a night, otherwise it’s value is zero if it’s not used – by boosting revenue through the sale of room night tokens in advance. This will improve their cash flow and revenue per available room, said Mukherji. In addition to that, we will also improve sales productivity with smart contracts and ask-bid options, avoiding sales lobby and legacy negotiation. It’s a win-win for both B2B and B2C.
At any given time, the hotel can only sell up to 20% of its room inventory through the platform’s exchange with an unlimited term. According to Hotelier Coin, the hotel will only issue new hotel room night tokens against the redeemed ones. The 20% room cap in supply will secure the hotel room night token’s price in the secondary marketplace against demand. The exchange commission on both sides is 0.1%.
For travelers, not only do they receive cashback, up to 4% in HTL tokens for each booking, but the platform aims to give them peace of mind. While travelers are interested in the best deals, fraudulent reviews – good or bad – can undermine a traveler’s trust and experience, affect a hotel’s reputation and turn a simple process into a hit and miss. On top of that is the fact that these traditional platforms lack a loyalty program even though they collect travelers’ details that are then spread across multiple agencies, shared and stored on vulnerable technology.
Hotelier Coin makes leisure markets leap into the 22nd century by providing peer-to-peer booking and payment options to all industry participants, including the often-overlooked vacation rentals, freelance and small tour operators, Mukherji said.
With access to 170,000 hotels across 185 cities, Hotelier Coin is aiming to deliver millions of memories under one currency.
Further down the line, it is hoping to offer more than just rooms on its platform. As it expands, Mukherji said that they plan to deliver a full suite of travel and leisure options. This includes using HTL tokens for visiting museums and galleries to adventure tours and extreme sports.
Hotelier Coin is currently undergoing its private sale. Once the four stages have closed – closed pre-sale, pre-ICO, ICO, and post-ICO sale – there will be a total of 150M tokens, 70M will be available during the ICO. Mukherji is aiming to raise a hard cap of $60 million.