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Using Oveit for Local Experiences

Vacation rental or short-term properties have been around for quite some time. These accommodations range from exclusive properties to extra bedrooms in other people’s houses. Some of these include homes, apartments, villas, condos and even tents, tree-houses or caravans. Hosts listing their properties might offer full services and experiences (similar to a hotel or resort), while others don’t even have contact with guests, besides the online booking process.

People that seek to spend their holidays in this kind of properties can find offers through OTAs (online travel agencies). Online booking platforms like Booking.com or TripAdvisor offer a variety of alternatives in terms of accommodation. However, the one platform that caters exclusively to this type of lodging is Airbnb. The home rental platform based in San Francisco was founded in 2008 and it has done a great job in changing the way people find places to stay away from home. In 2007, two of the founders were trying to find a way to cover their rent in San Francisco. Unemployed and broke at that time, they decided to rent out air mattresses in their own apartment to attendees of a conference, since all the hotels were fully booked. They called their service “Air Bed and Breakfast.” 

Like many successful businesses with little to no hope in the beginning, Airbnb is among them. As we speak, the privately held company lists more than three million lodgings in almost 200 countries. To give you an idea of its success, it is valued at $35 billion, which is more than Hilton and Wyndham combined. In late 2016, Airbnb decided to move beyond accommodation with the launch of Airbnb Experiences.

Airbnb Experiences

Airbnb launched Experiences with the purpose of bringing together where you stay (Homes), what you do (Places) and the people you meet (Experiences) in one place. The concept is designed for those travelers that want to benefit from authentic experiences and places, guided by their local hosts.

How does it work?

Instead of finding experiences on third party platforms, Airbnb recruits hosts that can provide more than just bed & breakfast. This way, travelers can simply book their accommodation and daily activities in one place. These activities are led by locals who love where they’re from and what they do, showing great passion. Ranging from cooking classes to music history and culture tours, travelers have plenty of choices available and they can find the perfect one based on other’s previous experiences. For example, in Barcelona, travelers can make paella based on an old family recipe in a private garden. Compared with experiences offered by commercial tour operators, these come with behind-the-scenes access that guests couldn’t typically find on their own.

As expected, travelers spend money on authentic experiences, creating a win-win situation for local hosts and communities. It is a great way to promote and contribute to the success of smaller businesses. The most authentic offerings tend to come from individuals with limited resources and little to no exposure. 

Oveit for Local Hosts and Communities

As we mentioned in previous articles, Oveit can be a great solution for local communities. As experiences tend to be fragmented, our solution enables the host to create their own local economy (currency), inviting local vendors and experience providers to be part of it.

Using Oveit to improve Local Experiences

Even if travelers pay for their trips in advance, local hosts and service providers can use our solution effectively. Our smart NFC enabled wristbands act as digital wallets and enable economy owners (local hosts) to pre-pack experiences for their guests.

Hosts are not always in charge of providing the full experience. Some of them depend on strategic partnerships with local vendors that have a key role in delivering it for travelers. For instance, hosts that are passionate about the brewing industry might offer local pub crawl tours, taking the role of a guide rather than a service provider. With our solution, they can pre-pack various experiences and enable travelers to claim them in partner locations (pubs) with a simple tap of the hand.

On top of that, they can use our solution as a payment tool and create a single currency accepted in their network of partners. Travelers can simply top up their digital wallets (NFC wristbands) online and purchase goods and services in the defined economy.

Besides the pre-purchased experiences, guests will most likely spend money on other activities as well. Our closed-loop payment solution is designed to avoid fragmented experiences and it contributes to a commonly accepted currency. While enjoying outdoor activities, travelers won’t have to worry about their wallets or withdrawing cash. They can activate the ‘Auto top-up’ feature and if the remaining balance falls under a defined amount, the digital wallet (NFC wristband) tops up automatically. Transactions are simply processed by tapping the wristband to a reader. 


Empowering local economies through Tourism

The beginning of 2020 brought us the Madeira Startup Retreat, a wonderful program that supports startups that brings together startups that aim to use their technology for the Travel and Hospitality industry. It helped us better understand how our solution can help communities develop their own local economies.

But as I write these lines, the world is totally different from what it used to be just a few months ago. The coronavirus pandemic made governments impose total lockdowns on communities, a measure designed to keep us safe until these hard moments pass. All industries took a big hit, but Hospitality and Travel are probably the ones that suffer the most in these hard times. Travel bans and lockdowns transformed our once vibrant communities into “ghost cities”, making us understand that we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

Image by Magdalena Smolnicka from Pixabay

The last few weeks gave me time to think of the importance of local communities and their role in the reconstruction of the global economy. And how Tourism can empower local economies. Because although we all suffer together, the power must come from within: individuals, small businesses, local communities. We are strong together, but firsts we must be strong as individuals.

The future of communities

The idea of local economies that are globally interconnected is not new, but today’s hard times force us to better understand the importance of each chain link in our interconnected world. And that the fall of one piece can create a chain reaction that will affect us all. While some communities are created around powerful manufacturing industries or financial centers, many of them are 100% dependent on the industry that took the biggest hit these days: Tourism. 

Overall, 1 in 10 employees work in tourism, making it one of the biggest industries in the world. But for some communities, it means more than that, making it the only way that allows them to attract external funds. However, taking a deeper look at the Tourism Industry allows us to see the day-to-day challenges. Challenges that affect both the Tourism Industry and the community. Tackling these challenges could mean a stronger, financially independent community that has the power to attract more tourists and offer better experiences. The key members that create these experiences, which have the interest but also are required to work together. 

Current main problems

We will take a look at how Hotel Chains, small businesses, and local authorities could better work together. But first I want to list some of the problems that affect the small communities and Tourism operators.

  • Especially in developing countries, tourism inflates prices. Tourists afford to pay more for existing products and services, making it harder for locals to access them. In the long term, this makes the area lose its initial inhibitors and its cultural heritage, affecting tourism in the region.
  • Most of the money leaves the community/country. Although tourists spend large amounts of money, a big percentage leaves the local economy within just a few transactions because of the lack of strong local businesses.
  • Lack of data. Each stakeholder has access to part of the data (tourist information, purchasing habits, preferred experiences, etc) making it almost impossible for them to offer the experiences tourists crave for
  • Fragmented experience for the tourists. Different currencies, different payment methods or divided registration processes can become daunting. Often enough, tourists choose to skip different activities because of the mentioned reasons, affecting both the local economy but also their own experience – a lose/lose situation.

Sustainable Tourism

At first, it may look that these problems affect just the local communities, not the powerful Hotel Chains that operate there. But a weak community will discourage people to visit a specific area, forcing the Tourism Operators to take a big hit as well. Distributing part of the money to locals is an investment that will help the area flourish, having an impact on all the mentioned stakeholders. And with millennial travelers valuing local experiences and pushing the trend to experiential traveling, any support offered to the local community becomes an investment into the industry itself.   

At Oveit, we have developed an Economy as a Software solution, aiming to help communities to create their local economy. Having such an ecosystem means that the money tourists spend on their vacations stays within the community that works to create these wonderful experiences. It’s a way of making sure that the wealth is distributed amongst those that put the hard work in creating beautiful memories. It’s a way of making Tourism (more and more) sustainable.

Local Economies. From concept to implementation

If you think the theory sounds good you will be happy to find out that the implementation is easier than you would imagine. Our solution allows the main stakeholder of the ecosystem (let’s put the Hotel in charge) to easily onboard external vendors and experience creators into this local payment system. 

The integration with the PMS means no complicated onboarding is required. Guests from the hotel can use their room key ( or even their mobile phones or customized NFC wearables) to pay or claim different benefits. It can be used to open the room, access the spa, pay at the hotel’s restaurant or gift shop. But by onboarding local vendors it also means that they can use it to pay at a local shop or to access the local museum. By partnering up with the local entrepreneurs and authorities, the Hotel can encourage its guests to spend their money within businesses that add value to the region. It can create better experiences for the tourist, allowing them to pay using the same NFC wristband that they use to open their rooms.

Tourists will no longer need to carry cash around. So often, small local businesses do not afford to onboard the existing banking system, making it harder for them to sell their services and products to foreigners. Tourists can use the same wearable for all the activities they want to join – a simple thing as an NFC wristband can become their room key, wallet, access to the museum or even transportation pass.


Photo by Satoshi Hirayama from Pexels

Data becomes available live – purchasing habits and experiences are all processed through the system, allowing involved parties to better understand the customer journey.  And, of course, to use this information to better understand who their customers are and how they could improve their stay. 

Local authorities can support the industry by making sure that part of the money generated by the Tourism industry is spent within it. For example, for spendings within local businesses users can receive extra Perks – free entrance to local attractions, discounts, and many more.

Conclusions

We live in an era where technology shows us the power of decentralization, empowering individuals and communities. Looking at today’s biggest companies like Airbnb and Uber we see the effect of giving power to individuals and small communities. Not only a better wealth distribution but also improved services for the consumer. And better experiences mean better client retention.

Leading Tourism companies have the opportunity to use their resources in creating powerful economies around their businesses. To empower the communities that empower the tourism industry.


Improving outdoor activities through technology

Even if the word ‘glamping’ is relatively new, the concept behind is not. In the 16th century, the Scottish Earl of Atholl prepared a lavish experience in the Highlands for the visit of King James V and his mother. Here, the Duke prepared luxurious tents and filled them with similar goods served at his own home palace.

Nowadays, glamping has become a popular trend that arouses the interest of more and more people. The word itself is a hybrid version of the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. It is an upgraded style of camping, with amenities and resort-style facilities that are not associated with traditional camping. Glamping locations tend to be isolated and closer to nature. It is designed for those who love the idea of camping, but are not so comfortable with the process behind it (setup labour; food stocking; sleeping conditions).

As technology changes our daily lives and interactions, glamping businesses are doing their best to keep up and adopt it in different ways. For example, eco giants such as Tesla with their tiny house off-grid technology. It is a compact home on wheels that is fully powered through 6 solar panels located on the top of the roof. This means that the mobile home can be towed in the middle of nowhere, while charging its batteries from the sun. Glamping businesses seek to adopt eco-friendly technologies designed to protect the environment and its travelers.

Glamping Experiences

As expected, travelers want to be entertained during their glamping getaway. In this environment, businesses offer a variety of activities that form a connection with nature, without having to harm it. Some examples include:

  • Canoeing
  • Fly-fishing
  • Guided Tours
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hiking
  • Rafting
  • Mountain Biking
  • Spa & Yoga
  • Wine Tasting

Based on individual preferences, these experiences might be purchased in advance (prior to arrival) or at the location.

Glamping with Oveit

We think that our solution can be among those eco-friendly technologies adopted by glamping businesses. To give you a better understanding of how it can be used in this environment, let’s go back to those experiences mentioned above. Our smart NFC enabled wristbands act as digital wallets, meaning that guests can fully customize their experiences as desired.

Who wants to carry a wallet or card while rafting?

I hope none of you are willing to worry about important belongings while having a great time. With our solution, travelers claim those experiences with a simple tap of the wrist.

When thinking of the middle of nowhere, I bet that some of you relate it to internet limitations. While this is partly true, the good news is that our solution does not depend on a stable internet connection. Our hybrid model allows travelers to claim experiences, complete transactions and access restricted areas offline. Operating offline has no impact on the user experience or processing speed.

Want to know more about your guests and their purchase behavior within your glamping resort?

Our solution is much appreciated because it has an important role in the decision-making process. The available reports enable you to market products/services with high demand, stock up accordingly, send out newsletters to your most loyal guests and allocate staff strategically. The faster transaction speed will also have a positive impact on your revenue.

Smart wristbands used within famous Ibiza establishments

Well-known establishments, part of the famous Ibiza island are stepping up their game in terms of adopting unique technologies to enhance guest experiences. The so-called ‘smart very important bracelets’ (VIB), successfully passed the trial period and convinced decision makers that it’s the way to go. Even if these smart wristbands were introduced a while ago on the island, the Hard Rock Hotel and Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel take a different approach by using it in their hospitality and event environments.

These properties are known as the places to stay, party, dine and relax during the summer season in Ibiza. The Ushuaia Beach Hotel, also called ‘The Unexpected Hotel’ because of its unparalleled entertainment offering, events production and technology initiatives, presents the ideal opportunity for such exclusive solutions to be implemented. It all started with the introduction of a biometric technology that enabled guests to complete purchases with their fingerprints. In 2014, these two famous establishments, part of the same hotel group, decided to replace the biometric PayTouch  system with the so-called ‘wearable technology’ or VIB. This wearable technology takes it a step further, replacing the need of carrying a room key, a wallet or a mobile phone on site.

How is this technology impacting the user experience and purchase behavior within the famous Ibiza establishments?

Room Access

The radio frequency chip incorporated inside the smart wristband is replacing the traditional room key. It is nearly impossible to lose it or forget it, since guests wear it all the time. To unlock the room, guests simply place the bracelet against specially enabled readers. The technology is already there. Most five-star hotels and resorts have these special readers already incorporated right under the doorknob.

Access to different areas (VIP)

Ibiza is the type of destination where influential people, such as celebrities, famous actors and artists choose to spend their days off. Celebrities seek personalized experiences and value their moments of privacy, especially during their time off. The smart wristbands are designed to store access credentials for individual guests. Access to restricted areas such as the VIP lounge, spa or pool is simply verified with a tap of the wrist in a matter of seconds. There is no need to assign hotel staff in those areas, since the process is fully automated.

Payment Tool

The famous establishments use smart wristbands as a payment tool, replacing cash or credit/debit cards. Fancy a drink at the pool or in a club? The bracelets are waterproof, and guests can shop their favorite cocktails even while taking a break from swimming. How does it work? Upon arrival, the hotel sends out a newsletter to individual guests and instructs them on how to sync their PayPal account with the bracelet. From then on, the smart wristband works in a prepaid fashion, automatically topping up every time the balance goes below 10 EUR.

Tracking (footfall)

To find out behavior and preferences regarding hotel services, the adopted technology by Ibiza establishments proves to be very efficient. The smart wristbands can track individual guests around the hotel premises, enabling decision makers to allocate staff accordingly during peak hours.

Discounts at on-site facilities

The tracking feature is also used to offer personalized promotions and discounts. Since decision makers have access to purchase behavior and preferences, identifying the loyal guests is fairly easy. For example, if an individual is using the spa facilities quite often, a special discount or even a free massage session might be offered in exchange.

Here at Oveit, our dedicated team believes that its ‘Economy as a Service’ approach could revolutionize the hotel and hospitality segments. The hospitality environment is among those that can take advantage of our extended features, designed to shape a different kind of relationship with its guests.

foto presenting an NFC chip wristband branded with Oveit

We pledge our tech against Coronavirus: 8 ways to fight the disease

More and more people are being reported as infected with the COVID-19 virus which causes the Coronavirus Disease. As many communities all across the world are being challenged by this epidemic we, as citizens of the world need to stay united and ask ourselves: what can we do to help?

This is the exact question we’ve asked ourselves. Can our work fight against this epidemic? Can we use tech against Coronavirus?

The answer is yes, we can. We are already a company dedicated to supporting local communities. Now we pledge our technology and support to any community affected about the Coronavirus outbreak. No strings or costs attached.

Photo credit by CDC on Unsplash

Here’s how we can help:

1. Use cashless and contactless payments to avoid spread of the Coronavirus disease through cash

The most common way for coronaviruses to spread is through person to person transmission. You can check details here . Don’t forget when getting your news – always trust verified sources, especially on health issues.

However, Covid-19 can survive on different types of inanimate objects for up to 9 days, as estimated by a March 2020 study published in the journal of Hospital Infection. This, in turn, allows inanimate surfaces such as money to become sources of infection.

Our contactless technology has been developed for usage in closed loop environments such as events, venues and hospitality resorts. This means places and areas where many, many people congregate.

How can you use this tech against Coronavirus? You can use Oveit Pay to allow cashless and contactless payments in areas that are not yet accustomed to these new means of payments, thus reducing potential dangerous interactions.

Contactless payments tech against coronavirus
Contactless payments tech for everyone

If you want to reduce the exchange of currency in your community, thus reducing infection chances, we are here to help. Do reach out. We are ready to help without any cost.

2. Access control to quarantined areas

Oveit was designed to manage access to very large events or venues. Therefore it is built for speed, reliability and flexibility.

Access control tech against covid-19 virus

How can you use this tech against Coronavirus? Quickly set up an access management system to quarantined communities.

The system can operate either using NFC cards (the same technology used in contactless payment cards) or biometric facial features, if you need a higher level of security and less contact.

While we are not experts in the field we assume that just as with all large gatherings, you will need different access rights and roles. This can be easily set up for let’s say medical professionals, logistics personnel or general public.

3. Use tech to manage patient history and tracking in improvised treatment spaces

Given its mild symptoms, longer incubation and high infectivity rate, Coronavirus infections tend to spread very fast. This leaves public health facilities stretched and new treatment areas have to be added fast. With high stress and lacking sleep medical professionals need technological help to maintain patient data and trace-ability.

Our system is based on an infrastructure of managing visitors access, interactions history and journey. It is also built to run anywhere, in the cloud, with mobile interfaces.

NFC wristbands tech against Coronavirus infections
Medical NFC wristband for patient tracking and history

How can you use this tech against Coronavirus? Deploy the patient tracking and history system anywhere, without complicated hardware and software setup.

All that’s needed is NFC wristbands which can be shipped fast, mobile devices which are probably already available to anyone and an internet connection.

We can also help you connect the collected data to external, more specialized health management systems.

4. Tech against Coronavirus: rationing for goods, services, medical supplies and fuel

We’ve developed a system where any person that joins a specific group (whether it is an event, venue or community) can get access to specific items. We call these things add-ons.

The add-ons can be fixed (let’s say everyone gets a certain quantity of food) or it can be changed according to needs.

Let’s say everyone is entitled to the same amount of goods such as food or water but some specific cases need a bit more medical supplies.

US Gas stamps
US gas stamps for the 1973 oil crisis. They were printed but never used.

In times of crisis or disaster relief, the community used to issue specific tokens, such as the 1973 oil crisis stamps (see right).

How can you use this tech against Coronavirus effects? Access to the rationing can be done as previously mentioned via cards, wristbands or biometric usage. It can also be built into citizen apps where they can track usage, remaining ratios and more.

Historically the issuing of such tokens used to be cumbersome as it entitled certain logistics that were hard to manage, such as printing, shipping, distribution, managing identities and more. Now everything is digital and can be used in an instant.

5. Edge economies for communities that don’t have access to internet

All of the above are fine and all but sometimes crisis bring down core infrastructure such as electricity or internet.

Our technology is used in places that are usually unreliable, have a high technological stress and where deployment has to be done fast and securely and people are sometimes under the influence of unknown substances. Namely: festivals and large venues.

We’ve developed a system where areas that are either not connected to the internet or have unstable internet connections can have a local economy based on local hardware. They will hold a distributed ledger of value, transactions and allow monetary and value exchange until core infrastructure is restored.

We packed this into a hardware-software product we call the Edge Box and it looks like this:

Edge technology for affected communities
The Oveit Box helps communities that are disconnected from the internet and need a local way of managing value transactions. We think they’re especially useful in crisis situations and during festivals.

How can you use this tech to fight against Coronavirus caused outages? Using the Edge Box we can help you set up edge payments in your community that can operate as independent value exchange media for your citizens, local businesses and allow life to continue until life returns to normal.

Why is it called edge? Because it operates at the edge of the cloud.

6. Build a local economy that can operate even if disconnected from the outside world

In times of need communities tend to create economies naturally but they are usually unsustainable because of the usual underground distribution and analogue means of trading.

We think that in such extreme cases the community can still operate like a closed economy where specific actors in the economy can exchange with one another. Basically businesses can be onboarded and citizens can access their goods via virtual payment tokens that can be purchased either with traditional currency or with government issued credits.

Basically this shrinks the overall concepts of the open economy (the one we are all accustomed to) and offers it to a local community.

How can you use this tech against Coronavirus caused economic distress? This will allow the natural flow of goods, money and services that exist in that economy to operate in a quasi-normal way, all while being digitally connected to the financial system (bank, card payments and such)

7. Setup time banks

As Investopedia notes “Time banking is a system of bartering various services for one another using labor-time as a unit of account […]. Labor-time units can be credited to a person’s account in the time bank and redeemed for services from other members of the time bank. Time banking can be considered a form of community currency.”

This idea has been around for quite some time but it hasn’t really gained much traction outside of small communities. The reason? Scalability and safety issues when managing these types of ledgers.

How can you use this tech against Coronavirus caused economic problems? In closed environments such as a quarantined community, this can work as a very good exchange medium. Imagine the bakery providing bread and its value being accounted by the time being spent to manufacture the bread. The currency, time, can be exchanged afterwards into goods from other local sources.

Here’s a brief video describing the concept:

In quarantined communities exposed to Covid-19 work becomes a problem. Large gatherings are stopped and the trading of basic goods can move in the underground economy, cause supply issues and increase criminal activity.

8. Enable crypto payments to ensure economic continuity

This doesn’t necessarily affect the communities infected with Covid-19 but in times of crisis the financial system can be overwhelmed. For example in the case of the Yes Bank bankruptcy in India the cash withdrawals have been blocked.

In troubled financial systems such as Venezuela’s ecosystem, even very large institutions such as the Central bank and largest gas company are contemplating switching to Bitcoin as means of payments. The failure of financial policies has left the country unable to manage financial flow and has lead to civil unrest.

In extreme cases pandemics can bring the economy to its knees. In such cases the social structures are overburdened by existing efforts in disease containment. The disease is treated as an war effort and everything outside of it becomes second. Cryptocurrencies can work as stable coins in times of high economic stress and alleviate stress on governmental structures.

If you think these solutions can work for your community, we are very happy to help and we are always on the call to offer advice, help or our pledged services.

And again – this pledge means using our solution is free for any community affected by the COVID-19 virus and any help requested is confidential and on a need to know basis.

Stay safe!