Having spent the last 5 years running their online travel business, Jay Jenkins and Michal Cole were finally fed up with the monopolizing of big companies within the hotel booking industry. Long time investors and blockchain enthusiasts themselves, Jay and Michal connected their experience with a solution – Coze. A decentralized hotel booking and rewards platform built on the blockchain.
Several months later they have raised $1M in seed investment and led their team towards one goal – to lower booking prices by at least 20% and bring Coze to the forefront of a booming industry.
Coze is already making a buzz in the crypto world, and has become one of 2018’s most watched upcoming ICO’s. This has led big companies like Booking Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:BKNG) which owns Booking.com and Expedia Group Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE) to be rightfully wary of competing blockchain startups, as Coze aims to put the power back in the Hotel Owners hands. Using blockchain technology, Coze removes the need for a middle man by connecting hotel owners directly with their customers. This way Coze can offer zero commissions on transactions – lowering the price per room by over 20% (see the video below).
We asked Co-Founders Jay Jenkins and Michal Cole some questions about their project.
How is your previous business experience relevant to Coze?
With our previous business Travel Cat, we were able to connect directly with the customers interested in booking flights and hotels. We provided them with cheaper deals through our connections in the industry. But we were always one step behind. Lowering an already inflated price just a little didn’t fix anything. This is why Coze was born – to take on the big online travel agencies and lower the prices once and for all – making travel more accessible to everyone.
And why blockchain?
Coze is built with a vision of providing the end user with a completely decentralized ecosystem of Hotel Booking and Rewards. It wasn’t until the introduction of blockchain technology that we had the means to create a gateway for customers and hotels to deal directly, cutting out the need for a middle-man.
Using this technology, we will build a decentralized Application (Dapp); essentially utilizing blockchain technology to allow for a trustless booking environment and secure transactions.This will deliver one of the first real world implementations for mainstream adoption.
The average consumer knows nothing about cryptocurrency, why would they choose to use your app?
The way we are designing the Coze platform there is no need to be knowledgeable in crypto or blockchain. The app will have similar features of any hotel booking app, with the function to pay for rooms in all major coins and currency. For example, hotels prices are listed in dollars, a user can still choose to pay with their credit card, then on the backend the price is converted to Coze Coins and used to secure the room. The information will be there – and the token will be tradeable in the market. Those with the knowledge can take advantage of this.
How you are planning to attract hotel owners to your platform?
There is economic incentive for hotels to join the platform as it opens up a profitable and more loyal relationship with their customers. Instead of Booking OTA’s such as Expedia or booking.com hijacking that loyalty to serve their own brand needs and creating profits for their shareholders, hotels will now be free to make customizable deals and rewards for their customers, as well as take action to feedback that directly affect how each customer recognizes their experience.
For example, a room may be listed by Hotel X at $100, and online websites list it for $140 to cover their commissions and fees. On the Coze platform, Hotel X can list the same room at $110 (a 20% discount), and make a further $10 profit, plus include a 5% Coze reward to increase brand loyalty.
Customers benefit with lower prices and rewards, and the knowledge that they have booked securely and directly from the hotel – meaning there is no worry of room availability after a booking is made, which often the case with the current system.
This is the proposition, but beyond that we will be heavily focused on niche marketing strategies to produce a foothold in specific geographic locations. It would be naive to say the hotel booking industry is worth billions of dollars and if we can capture 1% of that value we will be successful. The prudent strategy will be focusing our efforts on one geographic location, building strong long-term relationships and partners – with a focused, steady expansion process.
Will this mean more work for hotels to use your platform and list rooms and prices etc?
No extra time will need to be invested into the Coze platform than they would currently spend on other OTA listings websites. We are building a Management System for hotel owners, as they will need a place to access their hotel wallet, manage rewards, customer incentives, room listings and bookings. Our research has found that the savings made using Coze will be enough to fund staff to utilize our system, and still increase profits for hotel owners.
We have to remember that power of blockchain represents more than the removal of the middle man, and with the use of the Coze Coin, hotel owners also have the power to trade for further profits.
How are you going to handle cancellations and refunds?
Even though customers are given the option to pay in fiat currency such as US dollars or Euro the underlying infrastructure is built on the utilization of Coze Coins. This means all transactions will be converted to Coze and used to secure the room. As is the current practice with existing OTA’s, each Hotel will have the right to set their own policies regarding cancellation and refunds, which will be presented to the customer via the Coze app before a booking is made. Algorithms have been put into place regarding the conversion to Coze through the exchange layer of our platform, allowing hotels to facilitate refunds through their wallet contained in the Hotel Management System.
Of course last minute cancellations and refunds sometimes happen out of necessity. These will be dealt with on a case by case basis by the Hotels. To help with this, we are also building a reputation scoring algorithm into Coze. This will give hosts a useful decision guide to either approve or deny guests based on past participation in the ecosystem, or set a ‘reputation score’ minimum to who can book their rooms. Thus guests have an incentive to maintain better reputation scores which can lower their security deposits and increase benefits throughout the system.
Tell us more about ICO crowd funding round.
Coze has an upcoming crowd sale we are running with full details at Coze.io, and urge investors to sign up to the whitelist as we are only accepting 5000 registrants for their Pre-Sale, which includes coin bonuses. To take on the best, we need funding. But not only that – all investors will have a real world use for their tokens. We are giving everyone the opportunity to travel cheaper, and simultaneously building a community for the launch of Coze. We also urge any early investors who want to get involved to reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have high hopes for Coze – definitely an ICO to keep an eye on.