Travel Brands Should Embrace Crypto Payments, Study Suggests

AAs the calendar turned to the new year, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky asked his 403,000 Twitter followers what his company should launch in 2022. Of the 4,000 suggestions he received, the most important request was for the giant vacation rental company to accept cryptocurrency. He was thrilled, noting, “Crypto payments contain a variety of token ideas” and “Our existing payment volume = $336 billion processed since 2013.”

That his Twitter followers were clamoring for crypto payment options, didn’t surprise Chesky, who is fully aware that any Venn diagram of Bitcoin owners and Airbnb users would show significant overlap, thanks to Morning Consult Brand Intelligence. Both groups are younger and are often early adopters of technology.

“Not only are Bitcoin owners more likely than the general population to know about Airbnb, but they are also more likely to have a favorable view of the vacation rental brand than the average American,” said travel and hospitality analyst. Lindsey Roeschke of Morning Consult. . “The reverse is also true: Airbnb users are more aware of and more favorable to Bitcoin than the general public.”

But Roeschke says observation goes way beyond Airbnb users. Travelers in general are significantly more likely to own Bitcoin than the general public. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, about one in six adults in the US (16%) say they have personally invested, traded, or otherwise used cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, one in four travelers (25%) who take between one and four trips a year own Bitcoin, according to a new survey from Morning Consult. Notably, frequent travelers — those who travel at least five times a year — are more than twice as likely to own Bitcoin (33%) than the general public.

“While Bitcoin ownership doesn’t necessarily translate into a greater appetite when using cryptocurrency to pay for travel, the correlation between frequent travel and Bitcoin ownership could point to opportunities for travel brands, which could position themselves as pioneers by early adopters. of alternative payment methods. Roeschke writes.

According to a recent survey by Hartford Steam Boiler, at least a third (36%) of small to medium-sized businesses in the United States now accept Bitcoin as payment for goods and services.

But as of now, very few travel brands have expanded payment options beyond fiat currencies. No major hotel chain or airline allows crypto payments. In 2014, Latvian airline airBaltic became the world’s first airline to accept Bitcoin, but the practice has not spread in the industry.

A notable exception is the online travel agency CheapAir.com, which has been allowing customers to pay in crypto since 2019 and has steadily expanded its crypto options since then. “CheapAir.com is going for the long haul – committed to the crypto community and helping drive adoption around the world,” the company noted in a 2020 blog post.

And as of 2020, travelers can choose from more than 30 cryptocurrencies to book more than 700,000 Expedia Group hotels on Travala.com, thanks to a partnership with Expedia Partner Solutions (EPS).

Will 2022 be the year Airbnb or another major travel company jumps on the crypto train? In November, Chesky hinted at: The edge‘s Decoder podcast that he weighs it up. “We are definitely looking into it. Absolutely,” he said. “Like the revolution in travel, there is clearly a revolution underway in crypto.”

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