Travala.com Report Q4 2021
Reaching New Heights
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A Note From the CEO
Travala.com was founded in 2017, and as we enter 2022, we’re reflecting on the milestone moment of almost 5 years in operation. We’re proud of how far we’ve come and the challenges we’ve conquered during this time — and there’s certainly been no shortage of them. Throughout the years, our resilience has been rigorously tested on both the crypto and travel fronts, surviving the crypto winters and thriving during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As we look ahead to celebrating our 5-year anniversary this year, we’re pleased to announce another record quarter for Travala.com in Q4, bringing the total revenue for 2021 to $41 million, which represents a stunning 715% year-on-year growth.
Core bookings on the Travala.com platform were in good shape from Q3, with the focus this quarter being on optimizing our advertising and online presence to drive bookings. This resulted in by far the biggest quarter for booking volume to date as the travel market started to reemerge.
The team at Travala.com also grew more than ever during Q4, with 12 new faces being welcomed this quarter alone across different departments. The hiring focus predominantly remained on reinforcing our engineering team, growing the team to over 70 members distributed across eight countries globally.
This quarter also marked the launch of the stand-alone Concierge.io site, which has been very successful to date, attracting several applications and new high-value clients.
In light of the rapid growth over the last few months, a large portion of our platform development resources were diverted to supporting operational functions, with significant work being done this quarter on infrastructure, security and compliance.
To date, we’ve focused on building tools that allow our community to book travel with crypto, closing the gap between the two industries in the process. We’re now broadening our focus to develop blockchain innovations to fundamentally change the infrastructure and economic model that currently exists within the travel industry, with initiatives such as the new Travel Tigers utility NFTs and our upcoming involvement in the Metaverse.
In other words, this year we’re not just bringing travel to crypto — we’re bringing crypto to travel. Thank you to everyone who made 2021 the success that it was, and here’s to an even better year ahead.
Juan Otero, CEO
Travala.com total revenue grew 78% in Q4 with all three months surpassing the previous record set in September 2021.
Total revenue for Q4 2021 was $17.4 million, comprising hotels, flights, activities, concierge, and integration fees. This represents 571% growth over the same period in 2020 and 78% over the previous quarter, supported by a strong growth in all three core verticals.
- Hotels grew 74%, while flights and activities more than doubled, growing 138% and 158% respectively.
- The concierge service bounced back with 60% growth in total bookings value in Q4, supported by an even greater 66% increase in the total number of concierge bookings. This was supported by the launch of the Concierge.io site as a stand-alone, premium service.
Each of these verticals is discussed in more detail in the following sections.
Hotel bookings growth was explosive in Q4 2021, with gross bookings value in each month surpassing the historical monthly record.
Hotel bookings value skyrocketed in October and again in November, with a month-over-month increase of 46% and 19%, respectively.
This was driven by the reopening of the travel market, with Covid-19 cases and related restrictions dropping significantly. We also saw a strong crypto market, with BTC reaching a new ATH in November as the adoption of crypto payments across the globe continued to proliferate.
Our growth has not only improved financial results but also enabled us to deepen our relationships with some of our key suppliers like Expedia, who provide the majority of our hotel inventory. Like us, Expedia is continuously improving their product, and we’re looking forward to some exciting product developments launching soon which will further expand our inventory and improve our booking engine.
December saw a drop in hotel bookings, though it was still higher than any month prior to Q4. The unprecedented spread of Omicron put the brakes on the world’s reopening, with booking numbers falling and refunds rising. At the same time, the crypto market saw a correction in early December in response to inflation and interest rate fears, and consequently more crypto investors decided to hold rather than spend their tokens.
There is cause for optimism, however, as travel is showing signs of a rebound already in January and governments seem increasingly reluctant to re-impose significant travel restrictions.
The flights vertical posted the strongest growth of any vertical in Q4 again apart from activities, having done so in Q3 as well.
Flight bookings followed the same pattern as hotels, with record months in October and November. The quarter saw us exceed the $1 million monthly bookings value milestone in November for the first time ever. The respective 83% and 32% flights growth in October and November also outpaced hotels growth, as more customers than ever before turned to Travala.com for flights.
- Work is being done to significantly increase and diversify our flight inventory in anticipation of launching our packages product.
- Development progressed well on New Distribution Capability (NDC) integration with Duffel and another major GDS, which will enrich the booking experience by providing travellers with greater flight customizability and in-depth information when searching for flights.
Activity bookings followed the same pattern as the other core verticals, posting 158% booking value growth in Q4 over Q3.
Our activities vertical is powered by Viator, a Tripadvisor company and the supplier of the world’s largest selection of high-quality experiences. Given the increasing desire for authentic local experiences and our upcoming packages vertical, activities continue to be a growing part of the platform that helps make Travala.com a one-stop shop for all things travel.
We launched the Concierge.io platform as a stand-alone service in Q4. The concierge service provides a higher level of personalized, premium service to select luxury and VIP customers. The new website allows us to better communicate the differentiated value proposition under the Concierge.io brand. We’ve seen a phenomenal response since the launch and have welcomed several successful applicants as new Concierge.io clients.
As with the other verticals, concierge bookings saw strong growth in Q4:
- Total booking value grew 60% over Q3.
- The number of bookings grew 66% over Q3.
- As well as adding new individual clients we grew bookings with one corporate customer significantly and managed travel for a large industry conference.
The concierge service will continue to be a big focus for us as we continue our expansion into the luxury travel sector. We’re constantly strengthening our supplier partnerships to connect our clients to the best travel experiences in the world and are growing a dedicated team to improve our service, adding two new members to the concierge team in Q4.
If you’re a frequent traveller looking for a more personalized level of service, or know someone who is, we’d love to hear about your travel aspirations. Contact details for our team can be found at concierge.io/contact-us, and new client applications at concierge.io/apply.
Monthly Active Users (“MAUs”) is a key performance indicator that refers to the number of unique users who interacted with Travala.com over a given month.
In Q4, the average MAUs grew 59% over Q3. The figures for these MAUs — which comprise users of the Travala.com website, blog, and mobile apps — cumulatively make up the strongest quarter ever in terms of MAUs.
Our marketing and social media strategies, together with the continued interaction within the Travala.com community, grow the MAUs. In 2022, we hope to continue increasing these numbers at this healthy rate by welcoming even more new travellers to the platform.
AVA continued to be the top individual token payment method for hotel bookings in Q4.
*Binance Pay supports payments in over 30 cryptocurrencies.
The Mini-App enables customers to pay with a wide range of cryptocurrencies directly from their Binance exchange wallets. The integration puts the Travala.com platform at the fingertips of millions of Binance users worldwide, streamlining the booking process by reducing the time spent transferring cryptocurrencies across various accounts.
- In Q4, we announced our upcoming second mini-app integration with Klever, which is discussed in more detail later in this report.
- We also activated Bitcoin Lightning payments, making payments faster and cheaper for our second most popular crypto payment option.
AVA was once again the most-used individual cryptocurrency in Q4, with BTC coming in second. Travellers who choose to pay with AVA receive additional benefits, including further discounts on top of the Smart Program incentives (covered later in this report). Learn more about the AVA token benefits and use cases.
By offering more booking channels, we can reach more users who browse and book travel in different ways.
While desktop bookings currently remain the preferred option, the shift towards the Binance Mini-App continued in Q4 with the latter’s share growing to 10% of quarterly bookings. Mobile app volume dropped slightly to make up the difference, falling from 34% to 31%.
As Travala.com grew and more bookings continued to be channeled through the platform, our focus turned to two key infrastructure priorities in Q4: ensuring that the platform can handle the volume and that the platform is secure. To meet this demand, hires within the engineering and security departments made up the bulk of the new hires this quarter, as well as a handful in the customer support team. Overall, we welcomed 12 new hires in Q4.
As a result, the most notable improvements to the platform included:
- Significantly enhanced security, including further enhanced defence to protect from DDos attacks, fixes and patches for previously identified vulnerabilities.
- Infrastructure upgrades to streamline core booking functionality and improve our database for internal planning and analysis.
- Improved flight bookings tools to inform travellers about Covid-related rules and restrictions.
Q1 2022 Roadmap
To date, we’ve focused on building tools that allow our community to book travel with crypto. Now, we’re bringing travel to crypto. By broadening our focus to develop blockchain innovations that change the infrastructure and economics of the travel industry, we’re creating new ways to experience travel across the board.
In December, we announced the new Smart Program Diamond level and Travel Tiger NFTs. The NFT sale and launch of the program benefits is our primary focus going into the new year and will be completed in Q1.
Better Community Interaction
We’re improving communication, both in the way we interact with you and in the way the community interacts with each other. We’re doing this by launching:
- Exclusive Telegram groups for verified AVA holders and Smart Members.
- A Discord channel for Smart Diamond members, which will serve as a richer community meeting space for holders to share travel stories and tips while keeping up to date on the latest news and events. This is planned to be expanded to the other Smart Program membership tiers over time.
Direct contracting will allow us to offer even more travel products at a better rate by establishing relationships directly with our suppliers. We’re currently finalizing negotiations with our first direct contracting suppliers, and development resources are being increasingly allocated towards this initiative to integrate with these suppliers and build the necessary functionality into our search and order engines.
We’re working on realizing immersive ideas with leading metaverse projects, including our partners Decentraland, Bloktopia and NewsCrypto. Our initial metaverse presence will include virtual travel agency experiences and travel information, enabling you to navigate and book with Travala.com in an exciting new way.
These ideas will be focused on both partnership and technical development going forward, with the potential to create metaverse avatars for Travel Tiger NFT holders and develop richer metaverse travel experiences.
We’ll also continue to grow and scale the booking platform by:
- Increasing the amount and diversity of inventory
- Integrating with new partners
- Making speed, performance and security upgrades
- Improving the UI/UX across all products
AVA Token Updates
The Smart Program was enhanced significantly in Q4 by:
- Introducing the Smart Basic level in October, which made the Smart Program more accessible to new members by reducing the minimum lock-up amount. The move has seen a very positive reception, with 848 Smart Basic members at the end of Q4
- Re-branding the Smart Program levels 1–5 as Steel, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum
- Announcing the Smart Diamond membership and the Travel Tiger NFTs
We also delivered the first TRVL airdrop in Q4, with 500,000 TRVL tokens airdropped to date. A total of 10 million TRVL will be airdropped to Smart Program members.
The Smart Diamond membership offers exclusive benefits to Travel Tiger NFT holders, including the ability to earn travel credits via the ambassador bonus program, the opportunity to receive random travel drops, up to 10% loyalty rewards, access to exclusive online and in-person events, and much more. For more information, please see the Membership Announcement.
As of January 1 2022, a total of 9,563,850 AVA has been locked, representing ~16% of the total supply. During Q4, 83,642 AVA tokens were issued for standard booking givebacks, Smart loyalty and invite program rewards, which was equivalent to US$228,148. This represented an increase of 47% in USD terms from Q3 2021.
Members who join the Smart Program receive a range of benefits, including travel booking discounts, givebacks, and invite program rewards. We’re incredibly grateful for the continued support of the community for Travala.com and AVA and endeavour to continue providing our community with the best travel booking experience via the Smart Program.
We’re extremely excited to have announced the Travel Tiger NFTs, which will serve as the key to accessing the Smart Diamond membership level discussed above.
“Travel Tigers” is a collection of unique, randomly generated NFTs, the first in the Travala.com series to be released on the Ethereum Chain. 1,000 Founders Edition NFTs will be released at the beginning of Q1, and this exclusive edition will never be minted again.
900 of the Founders Edition NFTs will be sold exclusively to Smart Platinum members (formerly Smart Level 5), with 100 to be retained in the treasury. The NFTs will trade on OpenSea, and in the future, will be developed into metaverse avatars to use within different metaverses.
Our first Community Vote proposal was to develop and launch a travel-specific NFT program, which was approved with overwhelming support from the Smart Member community.
Initially, the NFT program was conceived as a “Proof of Travel” concept: a blockchain-based record of a person’s global travels booked via Travala.com. However, after further developing our NFT strategy and through consultation with external advisors and members of the community, we decided to pivot and launch the Travel Tigers first.
This was done for a number of reasons:
- The Travel Tiger NFT program is built for the purpose of developing a strong community of Travala.com ambassadors. We decided to first build a reward-based program that would actively engage the community in promoting and growing the platform in a way that benefited both the platform and the NFT holders themselves.
- The community has also been requesting a Travala.com mascot for some time, and launching a series of generative NFTs with the Travel Tiger characters provided a perfect opportunity to bring this to life.
- With continued uncertainty surrounding global Covid-19 restrictions, we determined that it was not the right time to develop the Proof of Travel idea, as it would be difficult in the current climate for Smart Members to accumulate many stamps to fill their passport.
Despite the initial pivot, the Proof of Travel passports are still in the pipeline. Proceeds from the sale of the Travel Tiger NFTs will be partly put towards their development, and we’ll continue developing the NFT platform with these (and other concepts) going forward.
Governance continues to be an important part of Travala.com’s strategic vision as we continue the process of progressive decentralization. Q4 saw the first iteration of governance proposals open for voting, with the outcomes of the NFT proposal and token battles being determined by the Smart Member community.
While there are many possibilities for potential proposals that could be voted on, it’s important to ensure that the initial proposals are strategically selected in order to build an engaged voting community by not saturating the system with proposals that are less consequential for the community. Once the process has been more refined and engagement is stable, we’ll also welcome the submission of community proposals.
Travala.com converts 30% of all net revenues to AVA on a monthly basis and adds the tokens to the Community Pool. The tokens in the Community Pool are used for initiatives that broaden the reach of the AVA token and expand the token’s use cases — a strategy that strengthens both the token and the Travala.com platform. These initiatives are voted on by the Smart Member community via the Community Vote.
The Community Vote enables Smart Members to vote on the use of the funds held in the Community Pool. The current voting process involves Travala.com management proposing strategic initiatives using the AVA tokens in the Community Pool. The Smart Program members then determine the outcome of these proposals via a voting mechanism on the Travala.com platform.
We’re evaluating a couple exciting projects for the next community vote, including the potential for a comprehensive Travala.com rebranding. More details coming soon.
AVA is available on BEP2, BEP20, and ERC20, with token holders able to seamlessly bridge between the three chains. Learn more about bridging AVA. In terms of token infrastructure updates in Q4:
- The first AVA (ERC20) listing was on Bybit, simplifying the process of acquiring this version of the token.
- The work on the new wallet infrastructure, which was expected to go live in Q4 2021, continues. The launch of the new wallets was pushed back in order to allocate development resources to more pressing platform improvements and security.
The Mini-App Program
The Travala.com Mini-App enables instant travel bookings to be made through partner platforms, with integration available for top-tier cryptocurrency exchanges, wallets and metaverses. The integration of the Mini-App into the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, remains the leading and only Mini-App as of Q4 2021, with further integrations on the horizon.
Mini-App development progressed well in Q4, both in terms of partnerships and development:
- Development of the API has been completed, meaning there are now two ways that partners can integrate our Mini-App into their platform.
- We announced our second upcoming Mini-App integration with Klever. Klever is a cryptocurrency wallet and exchange platform, providing decentralized and p2p financial services to over 3 million users worldwide. Development and integration work is currently underway.
- We are in ongoing discussions with several other exchanges and marketplaces to integrate our Mini-App and expect to solidify some of those partnerships in Q1.
The Mini-App continues to be a critical addition to the Travala.com ecosystem, providing seamless access to the booking platform to millions of potential customers. As such, development on the Mini-App remains a core focus for 2022.
Our primary mission continues to be the leading crypto-friendly travel booking platform in the world. To continue our strong progress towards this objective, we continue to form key partnerships within the industry to provide travellers with more hotel, flight and activity options around the world.
When expanding our catalogue of travel products, we prioritize the quality of the inventory to ensure the high standards that our customers have come to expect are always met.
We progressed negotiations and are in the process of finalizing our first direct contracting suppliers, which we hope to announce this quarter. Integrating this initiative with these suppliers to make the inventory available within the booking platform will require considerable development resources, which are being appropriately allocated in order to build the necessary functionality into our search and order engines.
In Q4, direct contracting for hotel inventory was a core focus. Direct contracting is a crucial part for the success of our mission for a number of reasons:
- Progressive decentralization: connecting directly with suppliers rather than accessing inventory through third-party aggregators is in line with our ethos of decentralization.
- Margin improvement: by eliminating the need for a third-party aggregator to sit between Travala.com and our suppliers, we can earn higher commissions on bookings while also passing on a portion of these savings to our customers.
- Collaborative promotion: connecting directly with suppliers will allow Travala.com to collaborate on property-specific promotions, including the use of AVA to drive customer loyalty programs and reward suppliers for providing inventory to Travala.
- Customer service: while Travala.com will continue to provide support for all our customers as needed, direct contracting will empower customers to connect directly with the properties they visit, allowing for faster, more personalized customer support.
- Blockchain-powered supply: direct contracting presents promising opportunities to use blockchain to transform the supply side of the travel industry.
We were hopeful that we could go live with our first direct suppliers last quarter. However, securing these partners involves extensive negotiations and integration work, all of which contributed to the delay. As we move to finalize both talks and development, we look towards a late Q1 or early Q2 launch for the first direct contracting supply. Stay updated on our social media for more announcements coming soon.
Travala.com partnered with several amazing token communities in Q4, including the likes of TRVL, SFUND, NEAR, ARPA, BEL, CAKE, SHIB and XYO. Each community can now use their tokens to pay for millions of travel products, including hotels, flights and activities.
As part of the concierge offering, token communities can now book corporate travel services, such as company retreats and business trips. See here for more information (LINK).
In Q4, we partnered with several projects — beyond new token listing partners — to continue growing our community and expanding our reach. Initiatives in the quarter included:
- Fantom Developer Conference (25–29 Oct 2021) – Official Travel Partner
- DCentral Miami Conference (30 Nov–1 Dec 2021) – Official Travel Partner
- Cartesi Christmas x Travala.com December 2021 Advent Calendar
- NewsCrypto Metaverse Partnership, with Travala.com to be included in the NewsCryptoVerse
The new year brings with it plenty of new opportunities and partnerships in key growth areas. The following strategic partnerships announcements and developments are on the agenda for Q1:
- Another exciting Travala.com metaverse partnership to be announced soon
- Building our Travala.com digital storefront within the Bloktopia metaverse
- Klever Mini-App integration
- Direct supplier contracting underway
Q1 Travel Outlook
Despite the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, preliminary data issued by the World Health Organization indicates that the vaccine is more likely to be effective against severe symptoms resulting from the new variant than in previous variants. If the longer term results support this data, a full travel recovery may even be achieved by the end of the year.
This optimism is reinforced by Tripadvisor’s recently published report, which suggests that planned travel in 2022 exceeds actual travel in 2019. The report also found that Americans plan to spend 29% more on travel this year than in 2019, with over a quarter of all travellers surveyed across five markets believing that it’s more important now to splurge on a big trip than before the pandemic.
While these figures are promising, domestic travel is still expected to continue to lead the travel recovery charge, with international travel still having substantial ground to make up in order to reach pre-pandemic levels. Only just over a third of the U.S. market is expected to go abroad this year, with Expedia’s 2022 Travel Trends Report — published at the tail end of last year — revealing that 59% of American respondents are planning domestic-only trips this year.
Given these findings, we’re expecting another big year of domestic travel, with travellers spending more than usual on a longer trip. Those who haven’t travelled at all in the last couple of years are especially more likely to spend that little bit extra on themselves, exploring new parts of their country and revisiting old favourites.
No matter where you are in the world, Travala.com will continue to offer you the best travel booking experience possible to help turn your travel dreams into reality. Through additional inventory, strengthened partnerships and cutting-edge initiatives, we’re cautiously optimistic that 2022 will bring some normalcy and long-overdue consistency to the industry.
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