Pro-crypto travel booking agency Travala.com is releasing a decentralized property rental service.
In a Wednesday announcement, Travala said it had partnered with former executives from Airbnb, Expedia, and other companies to launch Dtravel, a decentralized vacation rental platform that may serve as a competitor for sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. The platform is community governed through Dtravel’s Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO, and uses DeFi to facilitate smart contracts between hosts and guests.
Dtravel claims to repair “the broken relationship between hosts and guests created by existing centralized home-sharing platforms.” The platform said that issues stemming from centralized control on competing home-sharing platforms have led to high fees and lack of direct communications between hosts and guests, in addition to many not allowing cryptocurrency as a payment option.
“Traditional home sharing platforms are aligned with their users in the early stages, but over time this changes,” said Travala co-founder and CEO Juan Otero. “With the need to return profits to shareholders, home-sharing platforms are forced to extract as much as possible from transactions on their platforms.”
Many have criticized platforms like Airbnb for higher-ups rarely — if ever — changing policies in response to customer feedback. For example, Airbnb unilaterally decided to issue many refunds to guests for cancellations at the beginning of the pandemic last year, but often did not provide a means for guests who cancelled prior to a certain date to receive compensation. The move led to a public outcry from many Airbnb hosts and guests.
Users on the booking site can use Dtravel’s TRVL token to pay for stays and participate in platform governance. However, the token can also be used for staking to qualify for certain rewards. The site has promised to distribute $35 million worth of the token — on the Binance Smart Chain and the Ethereum Network — to the first 100,000 hosts who register.
The launch of the booking platform comes when vaccinated U.S. residents are able to enter many other countries without a 14-day quarantine. Some countries in Europe have opened up to U.S. travelers, as airlines are reportedly preparing for an air travel spike this summer.
As of May, Travala had more than 183,000 monthly active users. In addition, 72% of all bookings that month were paid for using cryptocurrencies. Dtravel is backed by a $5 million seed round from Kenetic Capital, Future Perfect Ventures, DHVC, Plutus VC, GBV Capital, AU21 Capital, Shima Capital, LD Capital and NGC Ventures, and several angel investors.