NEO Global Development (NGD) held its first NEO LIVE event, a new series that features and interviews a different project from the NEO ecosystem each week. The first Telegram-based AMA featured Travala co-founder and CEO Matt Luczynski.
In the interview hosted by Songping Que of NGD, Luczynski fielded questions from the NEO community on a wide range of topics, including plans for a new website beta, mobile app, and the team’s plans for future marketing efforts.
Luczynski highlighted Travala’s current dominance as an online travel agent in the blockchain industry and offered insights into the next steps for the platform’s growth.
The full chat log for the NEO LIVE interview with Travala may be found below. Alternatively, the original chat logs may be viewed directly on the official NEO telegram channel.
Host: Our first guest for NEO LIVE is Matt Luczynski, CEO and co-founder of Travala.com.
A seasoned marketing and technology entrepreneur, Matthew is a veteran in the travel industry, having worked on a number of enterprising startups within the space. Compelled by the aim of driving real-world blockchain adoption, he co-founded Travala.com, a travel ecosystem which leverages on the token economy to provide consumers with a fair, trusted, and transparent platform. In addition, Matthew is also the founder of the Wanderlust application, a location-based meet-up travel application designed for users to connect based on their specific interests.
Hi Matt, first question, when is Travala coming to Binance if at all, any plans?
Exchange listings are something as business we aren’t able to discuss due to NDA’s we sign. We aim to continue pushing in all areas to make AVA more accessible to all users for usage on the travala.com platform.
Should we be expecting 15 suppliers integration by August 15th?
We have currently connected 17 suppliers in total through our tech partner. This will give Travala.com in excess of 1.5 million properties worldwide. We are now going through certification stages with all of our suppliers and once we pass we will be going live. This will happen at some stage in August.
Why should I use Travala instead of Orbitz or other popular travel sites?
Price – Our prices are on average 15% cheaper than other travel sites and our mainstream competitors. Our business plan is focused on this as we form a disruptive models targeting consumer adoption.
Room availability – We have a large inventory of hotels and accommodation in 210 different countries which is only going to increase as we roll out future updates.
Loyalty rewards program (SMART) – Earn AVA for every booking you make.
SMART discounts – Hold AVA to access up to 10% discount on our already low cost prices. Save even more on your bookings.
Access with multiple cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies.
Hi Matt, when the beta version goes live, Travala can expect an increase of booking numbers I think. Are you considering to hire more people for customer service before or around that time?
With an increased UX/UI along with more availability we expect the platform to maintain its growth as we have seen over the past 7 months.
What are the benefits to a Travala token holder?
AVA is the gateway to further discounts and rewards on the travala.com platform. You can read more about it here – https://blog.travala.com/use-cases-for-the-ava-token/
Is the AVA token able to be purchased directly on the Travala website? Or will a third party have to handle this? Is there a fiat gateway plan? Will Nash handle this?
We are waiting to see how the Nash system will work, there are also legal issues around use providing direct purchases of AVA via the platform. All things we are looking into as we develop to make it easier for anyone to join the Travala smart program on the platform.
First of all congratulations Matt for your crowdfunding on Crowdcube, my question is when will we see Travala application on both platforms, an app is more easy and user friendly when compared to website so any approximate time frame?
Thanks, it was a great moment when we successfully completed the crowdfund, something I have always wanted to complete. Mobile app development will start in October this year.
Will you list Travala at some point on Kayak or is this plan cancelled?
We still have open discussions with Kayak and other platforms with similar models. They won’t happen right away but are still aims we have.
What’s your vision for Travala by end of 2020 and beyond?
Growth. We want more bookings and to dominate the crypto space for travel bookings (which we are already doing). Alongside this we will begin pushing into the mainstream market.
Hello Matt! Could you tell about your goals in the future in terms of market share?
Do you see having 0.1-1% of Market share of current giants like Booking.com, Hotels.com as a realistic goal?
Our goal is to achieve a 1% market share by 2023. That said it’s hard to predict at this early stage due to the estimated growth of the total online travel market.
Within the crypto space we are predicting to maintain our dominance.
Along with the August update, will search improvements be also in place, so it’s easy to locate countries, etc. It is currently difficult to find all places in the Maldives for example.
Yes we are constantly tweaking and updating the search improvements on the site. We understand the issue you have mentioned and are making changes for future updates.
What other (other than the SMART rewards) ways are there that have been implemented to encourage the usage of AVA on the platform instead of the many other payment options?
Rewards, discounts, referrals, payments, and reviews. Other areas will be added as the platform develops.
Can you elaborate on the Key Opinion Leaders? Is this an affiliate marketing program outside of the $20 invite reward?
Yes that is correct, we have a unique partner program which we have began to roll out. For example bitcoin.com and Litecoin foundation have joined us on this.
Travala does already accept several cryptocurrencies as a means of payment. Do you plan to add GAS at some point?
We are looking into this as we speak alongside our partnership and collaborations with NEO.
When do you expect the beta site to go live?
Beta will be a constantly rolled out version and not a one off update. First update will be in August.
When do you expect the review giveback program to be put in place and what are the projections on % of people making reviews vs total bookings?
Will be towards the start of Q1 2020. Estimated between 0.5-1% of the total booking value. This is subject to change and is not yet set in stone.
1/3 reviews can be considered as fake on TripAdvisor. How will you guys handling reviews on your platform? Can you elaborate more about this topic, because it is very vital problem in the Travel industry.
We will be using our booking smart contract to verify that the user has actually stayed at the property before they are able to write the review.
I remember business accounts went live during the last update, but this isn’t obvious anywhere on the site, is this something you are handling privately at the moment?
Yes it’s handled privately.
Are there more partnerships planned for Q3 that you can’t tell us yet?
Yes, we have a number of confirmed partnerships to be released. As you can tell by our past partnerships with Dash, litecoin & bitcoin.com they will always be top level collaborations.
The commission fee is said to range between 5-10% depending on the maturity of the platform. Can you confirm what % the current fee is?
Currently we operate at a 10% fee. While still maintaining a 15% on average discount on our available inventory for users.
How many employees does Travala now have?
We currently have 26 employees right now.
Has any details been released of the new CTO?
Sure you can check him out here – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tứ-quý-phạm-54317815a/
Are qualifying Crowdcube contributors still receiving t-shirts and goody bag etc at some point?
Only if they invested the right amounts to receive them.
When will flight booking will be available on Travala?
Flights will be added when we are happy with the growth of the hotel bookings. It’s important to not spread yourself too thin, going down too many vertical too soon means that other products don’t get the attention they need. We constantly assess how we are performing before pushing on new products and verticals.
What’s your favorite part of working at Travala?
I don’t work at Travala, this isn’t work for me. It’s a lifestyle. I enjoy it all.
How would a buyout of Travala affect the tokens?
Due to AVA being such a key part in the way travala.com operates, it will be a very good thing if a buyout took place. Also when a buyout happens typically the company is bought for the team.
Any plans to have a bug bounty programs as many crypto project have?
Alongside our security and auditing team. We do rely on our awesome community, token holders and shareholders to help us out when they see something abnormal.
Have you already been approached by one of the big OTA’s for cooperation or maybe for a business level account?
Our business development department is constantly pushing forward with our business level accounts.
What would be the primary driver to decrease the required 5,000 token amount to become level 5 SMART?
Depends, we have no plans to change the program at this stage.
What are the costs to maintain Travala system and how those costs are covered? What are biggest costs?
Staff wages, servers, rent, costs of bookings, users acquisition. We generate revenue and our burn rate is relatively low right now. We have just completed a crowdfund and will continue to do investment rounds as we push more capital into the growth of the platform.
Is there any way to have a sneak peak of the new website?
How many employees do you expect to have by the end of Q3?
No more than 30.
Are you satisfied with the development of Travala so far?
Yes, our team has over delivered on all areas. Our team is world class, I look forward to continuing to over-achieve.
If the selected booking date is not available, can the result provide ‘next available date?’ Or is this already coming?
Right now the platform doesn’t work like this but something we may add. However it’s important that as a user you are notified clearly that those dates are not available before we push another date to you. You may not have noticed and think you’re booking for the day you selected.
With NEO’s EcoFund investment, what are Travala.com’s new strategic growth targets?
At Travala.com we continue to push our strategy towards global adoption of cryptocurrency usage for hotel and accommodation bookings. The investment falls alongside our recently completed crowdfunding and at the commencement of our series A investment round which will continue to accelerate the growth of the travala.com platform.
Can we expect greater marketing in terms of ad spend once the beta comes online in August, or is the marketing campaign going to increase later in Q3 or Q4?
Ad spends will increase at a later stage, we are currently working closely with a team at Google as to how we will strategically roll this out.
How much does the crypto market dropping affect your model, and are you well prepared for a long crypto winter should that eventuate and how much do you rely on the crypto prices for stability vs getting revenue elsewhere?
We provide access to our listings with credit/debit cards, Paypal and other fiat methods, along with multiple crypto currencies. We don’t rely on the crypto market or the price of cryptos to operate.
Do you personally believe that we will be listed on Kayak in 2019?
It really depends on how quickly we can grow, if we meet our targets, then yes I do believe it will happen late 2019/early 2020.
What do you think about NEO blockchain?
It’s improving and I look forward to seeing how 3.0 is rolled out.
Will Libra be accepted as a payment method in the far future?
If it’s possible to accept we will accept it.
Are you guys attending more events this year?
Yes, well be at Consensus Singapore and the Litecoin summit (Travala.com is the official accommodation provider for these events). And potentially some others to be confirmed.
Can you share something about the plans to boost the smart memberships?
SMART is growing monthly from our organic reach, we will continue pushing this to new users than come to travala.com.
Will Travala harness the Seraph ID solution?
Not unless it’s more user friendly than how travala.com already operates.
In addition to financial assistance, in what other ways will NEO’s EcoFund benefit Travala.com and help it reach its goals?
There are a number of areas; marketing and technical support as well as harnessing the Ecoboost partners with liquidity for the AVA token and more accessibility with wallet partners.
NEO intend to support travala.com with marketing & technical support as per the last question. We now have open discussions about how the relationship will develop and we look forward to working more closely with NEO moving forward. We are already working on adding GAS as a native payment on the platform and we look to become the official travel partner for NEO in the near future.
We’ve seen you guys do great work with BCH, LTC, and DASH, has other top 20 coins approached you and showed interest?
Yes, a number of them have and we are looking at how we are going to be working with a number of them.
Does Travala.com have any plans in the future to work together with other NEO ecosystem projects?
Travala already has a partnership with nOS and we look to further that once our production release of the site is released in Q4. We also will be looking very closely at the Nash Pay feature to allow more crypto payment methods. We are always open to collaborations with other ecosystem projects that we can both benefit.
Will it be possible one day to buy a smart membership directly with fiat with the Nash app, like buying a Prime membership?
Is it possible that Travala helps Airbnb to go blockchain?
Anything is possible.
The next NEO LIVE event will take place on August 1st, and will feature Guardian Circle founder and CEO Mark Jeffrey.