Cozystay, an online vacation property rental platform serving Chinese vacationers worldwide, is using blockchain to improve the security and overall experience of its customers on the platform.
“The vacation rental industry is plagued by a number of issues, from the pressure on hosts to provide instant booking before verifying guests, to double-booking rentals, security concerns, uncertainty around the legitimacy of reviews and delays or large fees on payment,” said Galen Cheng, Founder, and CEO of Cozystay.
Cozystay has over 60,000 users, 200,000 listings worldwide and offices in both Vancouver, Canada and Beijing, China. The company is on target to reach 1M listings by year end 2018 and has partnered with Singapore-based Share Everything Lab Pte. Ltd. (SEL) to develop the blockchain aspects of its platform.
“The booking protocol being developed by SEL will ensure security and transparency for hosts and guests because each user is verified by trusted members of the Cozystay community,” added Cheng.
There is an overarching trend of lessening trust in institutions, and increased trust in individuals. Pew and Ipsos say that trust in institutions such as banks, governments, charities and the media, has hit an all-time low.
Despite the fact that popular vacation rental sites like AirBnB connect individuals with one another instead of pure institutional service providers, the platforms have faced criticism for their lack of transparency and centralized governance.
SEL’s booking protocol addresses several of these issues while offering increased decentralization of the process. Firstly, it ensures that all individuals, hosts, and reviews are verified and legitimate using Cozystay’s “Know-Your-Member” validation process. This process requires that new users provide one or more government-issued pieces of ID and validate the information via phone call or video call with peer-reviewed, trusted members of the community.
“Sometimes, the best thing a company can do is get out of the way of its customers. Providing a mechanism of trust allows the community to develop in a positive way,” added Cheng. “Many of the most popular vacation rental platforms on the market pressure their hosts to provide instant booking, which does not require approval from the host. This clearly can cause a plethora of issues, and mounting anxiety for hosts who may not be sure that their guest will be clean, safe and respectful.”
In order for hosts and guests to qualify for instant booking, they must maintain a peer-rated four-star rating; these ratings are also verified and immutable using SEL’s blockchain technology, providing yet another layer of trust for customers.