Every year, twice a year, our team meets either in person or virtually to align on the direction we are headed, evaluate past performance and spend time outlining our high level strategy. Part of the process is ensuring Dtravel’s core values, mission and vision still hold true as a north star that binds us all together and illuminates what we’re building, why we’re building it and where we are headed.
During our recent Dtravel H1 Planning session we felt it was time to update our core values and take a hard look at both our mission and vision statement.
What is Dtravel?
For those of us living and breathing Dtravel on a daily basis, the question “what is Dtravel?” is an easy one to answer. With so many moving parts, however, it can be challenging to distill this answer into a bite sized sentence.
At the core, Dtravel is a community-owned travel ecosystem that empowers ownership with web3. We feel very strongly about every single word in this sentence which is why we’re focused on solving the problems we see in travel related to trust, reputation, connectivity, distribution and direct bookings.
From this simple explanation, we decided that our reason for existing - our vision and mission statements - required an update.
Empower ownership in travel.
We wanted to simplify our original vision - A decentralized, community-driven travel ecosystem that enables true ownership - to one that’s more digestible , but still encapsulates the same essence and intention.
Ownership is fundamental to our ethos at Dtravel. This is not just core to Dtravel, but of the web3 movement in general and one which resonates with our core contributors, early adopters, and community. Emerging web3 technology is key to how we empower ownership in a fragmented industry because it provides essential capabilities necessary to scale distributed ownership. We’re focused on doing this in travel specifically as we believe the travel industry is uniquely positioned to take advantage of emerging web3 innovation and bring mainstream adoption.
To create a rewarding travel experience for everyone through direct connections.
Eliminating intermediaries is only one aspect of empowering ownership. If a hospitality owner is truly empowered, she can decide whether to use an intermediary or not. However, our previous mission statement: “to remove intermediaries and empower more ownership in the future of travel”, failed to speak to how we were aiming to accomplish our objective. We believe this “how” will be solved through enabling peer-to-peer connections. When you have an intermediary in every transaction, it removes the human connection. We believe that peer-to-peer, direct connections are the most rewarding type of travel experiences and can be achieved through the application of web3 technology. With web3 we’re able to decentralize ownership and control, a solution to many of the problems we see facing the travel industry today.
Direct connections can mean booking travel directly with a property manager, participating in a trustless reputation system or even earning rewards by opting into sharing your travel history and data directly with merchants rather than third-parties.
What are the problems we’re solving?
Though companies like VRBO and Airbnb are often credited with the innovation of the home-sharing economy, home sharing and direct bookings have been around for some time. The original concept of home sharing has its roots in homestays - a type of accommodation that provides guests with an empty room and meals in a host’s home, with an authentic experience of living amongst the host family and experiencing the daily life and culture of the local family. Homestays were primarily used by students attending school or studying in another country and staying with a host family. These are not professional businesses and are purely intended to create a true local experience for those wanting to stay in a home setting and live with a local family. Often, local families offer up their homes to schools in the area to be a host family and the homestay guest deals directly with the host family.
Home sharing started very much as peer-to-peer direct bookings. While platforms have made it much easier to search, find and book short term and vacation rentals, it’s also removed much of the personal connection from booking directly with a host or property manager. It’s also added a lot of layers and fees, making the experience feel less rewarding for both sides. To deliver on our vision and mission, we’re focused on finding ways to empower direct connections, through connectivity, distribution, and direct bookings. We also know that trust is something very crucial that we have to solve for, but through trustless systems instead of through intermediaries which currently serve as a proxy of trust.
Let's take a quick look at each:
Trust and Reputation
One thing that platforms have done really well today is to serve as the trust between parties. The implicit, and often explicit, promise is that should something happen, they’ll be there for both sides. While this has been key to platforms being successful, especially when creating new markets where trust didn’t exist before (e.g. a stranger staying in your home), there’s been a high cost and property managers, and especially guests, have taken to social media to voice their frustrations.
In order for Dtravel to empower direct connections, this relies on us replacing the institutional trust that platforms have today. We envision doing so through trustless systems, such as decentralized review systems, which are verified and verifiable, encrypted and immutable. The current review system needs an overhaul and we plan on this being one of the key innovations that Dtravel will bring to the vacation rental industry.
We know that demand and distribution are important to property managers and key to their success in building a direct booking business, especially while they’re starting out on this journey. That's why we’re building demand integrations with web3 partners like Travala.com, the largest crypto online travel agency, wallets, dApps and communities. Rather than trying to target the same guests that online travel agencies (OTAs) are going after, we’re enabling property managers to tap into a new and web3 native travel persona, those who want flexible crypto payment options, lower fees and rewarding loyalty programs.
The vacation rental space is connected via integrations across the entire industry. However, this system of connections is relatively antiquated since every time a new provider enters the space, they have to connect to property management systems (PMSs), channel managers (CMs), other software providers and with channels themselves. There’s easily hundreds of providers and each provider needs to create and maintain many of these integrations and APIs.
This becomes a huge barrier for entry to any new companies that want to service the vacation rental industry. It’s expensive and time consuming to create and maintain all of these connections and because they generally don’t have open APIs so you need to request access and agree to terms before you can connect. This runs counter to the ethos of web3 which promotes accessibility, openness and democratization. We strongly believe there’s a better way for the industry to connect via just one integration which serves as the source of truth for listing and booking data and which is open for anyone to read and write data from.
Direct Booking Tools
There’s been massive growth in the direct booking movement and we see this aligning and complementary to the web3 movement as both empowering of ownership and peer-to-peer connections. However, in order to further facilitate and grow this movement, property managers need better tooling that allows them to establish trust create quality digital experiences similar to those of OTAs today
When it comes to direct booking sites, the industry is still mired in outdated design and clunky booking experiences. Without a focus on improving these elements, it will be challenging to have guests switch from booking through OTAs to booking directly.
OTAs have helped advance the industry to where it is today by creating a seamless booking experience, complete with modern and clean user interfaces. However, the fact that there is an intermediary has also resulted in lack of control, higher fees and a frustrating experience for everyone. We believe in a brighter future for vacation rentals. One that combines the rewarding and economical experience of direct connections with the trustworthy and user-friendly interfaces pioneered by OTAs. For those who have been following along, we’re still heading in the same direction. We’re a community-owned ecosystem on a mission to create a rewarding travel experience for everyone through direct connections.