A new project called BookWithBit will allow users worldwide to make bookings using Bitcoin. It aims to become a new competitor to the world’s giants Booking.com and Expedia.
With BookWithBit users can book their favourite hotels using Bitcoin with the best rates in the national currency of the place they are heading to. Moreover, users can split the costs of booking among a group, which is especially useful when traveling with family or friends. It also promises to give additional discounts on advanced bookings and a flexible cancellation policy to ensure users only pay when they the actually stay in a hotel.
Right now the new service is in the testing stage, with a full launch expected in February. Cointelegraph got an interview with the founder of the project BookWithBit, Kalpesh Patel, to find out more about the features of this ambitious new project.
Cointelegraph: Could you explain how BookWithBit works?
Kalpesh PATEL: When booking people will see price in Dollar and the time of payment we will convert Dollar to Bitcoin, so people can pay with Bitcoin and we send payment to hotel in USD or BTC. Basically we are creating booking.com or expedia.com of Bitcoin but we don't accept any other currency except Bitcoin.
CT: What kind of hotels will you have available for booking?
KP: We have 40 hotels which we can list at the launch. It will be in USA mainly.
CT: Will it be available worldwide?
KP: Yes, it will be available once we get hotels listed. mostly in Europe and india. I am getting in touch with people in Italy , France and London. This is one project which we are starting as a fair trade. we will not hide anything from the customer as well we don't do business to make money ourself at the cost of hotel owner.
CT: You said 40 hotels, are they already available? How can a person start using your service?
KP: Right now it is not available since we are testing. Once we are done testing then it will be available. Right now we need to reach out to the Bitcoin community to get some users signed up, so we can make our case to hotels to convince them to enroll with us. We are not just unique because we accept Bitcoin but we are unique because we will allow people to price thieir own price and get instant offer match. We will allow group booking prices online and also meeting rooms will be bookable online. We will also have an event planning tool so you can create an event and invite guests who are needing hotel room while attending events and we have a split payment tool. You can book for a group and we send payment link to each member to pay their own share. So it is more then just booking with bitcoin
CT: Why have you started this project?
KP: Since I am a hotel owner myself I started this project. When I learnt about bitcoin I liked it so much and I wanted to accept bitcoin for my two hotels but my webmaster told us “No”. So I was looking for other platform to add my hotel could not find so i started BookWithBit.
CT: So your hotel(s) will be the first in the list? Which is the hotel you own?
CT: What are the fees for you service?
KP: 5% fees will be paid by guest and 5% paid by hotel. So our commission is only 10%.
CT: Are there any similar services accepting cryptocurrency?
KP: We know Expedia is offering Bitcoin bookings but they are not promoting Bitcoin nor passing savings to hotel or hotel guests. They doing it for their own good. They are playing a wait and watch game. Right now if they promote Bitcoin then they will not look good but if Bitcoin gets big then they can market that.
We are the first one who start accepting Bitcoin, so come with us and book. We are pro Bitcoiner - and we are saving money for the hotel so the hotel can pass direct way to their guest by cutting rates and or indirect way by improving service and hotel rooms.
CT: So the BookWithBit project is a solution for both hotels and Bitcoin users as users can pay in Bitcoin but will hotels get Bitcoin or fiat? Do you use any payment processor to exchange BTC to fiat?
KP: Coinbase. For my hotel I will accept payment in Bitcoin only. I would also advise hotels to get payment in Bitcoin because the hotel will receive very small amount of revenue by Bitcoin. So it will not effect hotel operation. It is not like make or break but it is a good hedge against the fiat. For my hotel we will receive 100% in Bitcoin and we will hold our commission in Bitcoin. So I can pay my team and everyone Bitcoin.
CT: You said because the hotel will receive a very small amount of revenue by bitcoin but it Bitcoin popularity grows your revenue in cryptocurrency might grow as well. Are there any legal problems with accepting Bitcoin at hotels?
KP: No, there is no legal problem. Since hotel will be recording revenue in Dollar so all the income will be registered. So no problem for hotel. Only thing is they received payment in Bitcoin which they can hold in Bitcoin and they can convert in fiat whenever they like. Then we may create tool for hotel which can make for easy book keeping. But from a legal point of view no there is no problem.
We send the hotel a bill every month with how much they have paid us as a commission. So they can deduct as an expense and there is nothing the hotel have to worry about. What we collect as tax from guest on room rate will be paid to hotel so hotel can pay goverment.
You must know that expedia is not paying that to government. They are keeping for themself.
For example : EXPEDIA get room to sell on their website with rate X then they add their commission on top of that and sell on expedia with rate Y. Now when a user books with Expedia it collects tax on rate Y. When they pay hotel they pay tax on only rate X. Example: Green Country Inn have contract rate with expedia at $35. Now Expedia add there commission on $35 and sell to users of Expedia at $50 and let say hotel tax is 10%. So when some one book a hotel room on Expedia with Green Country Inn they will pay $50 + $ tax = total $55. Now Expedia pay Green Country Inn $35 + $3.50 = $38.50, so tax amount they have collect on $15 which is $1.50 Expedia keeping that for themself. They are not paying that as a sales tax to the government because they said it is a service so thereafter we don't have to pay. But we are going to pay what we collect from guests. No hidden fees. We will be very truthful with what we do.