Photo by Instagram.com/jamie_fenn
Have you ever been gearing up to go abroad, attempting to pull up research for a trip only to be bombarded with an overload of irrelevant, useless info? You’re not alone, fellow traveler. The internet is a noisy place. The top hit for most travel searches is a dumpster fire known as ‘Trip Advisor’, filled with rants, raves and cacophony in the same depraved vein as Yelp. Trip Advisor reviews tend to be written by self-important people in triangulated love affairs with hyperbole and caps lock. They tend to use words like ‘hubby’, ‘amazeballs’ and ‘wow, just wow’. Users favor meticulously detailing the mind-blowing tedium of experience over publicly-beneficial analysis. Compounded with the psychological tendency for information overload, user reviews create a black hole for productive travel research. Additionally, the website often lists the most expensive restaurants in an area as the highest ranking. Most backpackers tend to be of the Bourdain philosophy – as in, no need for white tablecloths, the most memorable meals ever served were on cheap paper plates, surrounded by plastic neon décor. In short, the wisdom of crowds has long been diluted by the infinitude of the internet.
Lonely Planet, in theory, is a far more aesthetically palatable option, but it’s not without the same unwieldy information issues. LP has been around since the 70’s and wrote the first book on budget travel through Southeast Asia. As a young backpacker, I’m supposed to love it. But I don’t – the forums are an eternal backlog of recurring information and the poetic snippets on their main site accomplish zilch. Cameroon is rolling plantations, huh? I feel like the first person to say it, but the Lonely Planet books are almost impossible to read — unless you’re spending 3-6 months in one country, no mortal can sort through their sheer volume of stuff you can’t miss.
So what about local mags? NYT? BBC? NatGeo? WikiTravel? Government-sponsored tourism pages? Tips from “premium” information and booking services stretch on like the rolling plantations of Cameroon, but in like, a bad way. In this post, I’m going to discuss a possible solution.
I think I can safely speak for all international travelers when I say we want new, reality-augmenting experiences without choice-paralysis. A company called chozun途赞 claims they can guide us.
chozun途赞 is a self-described “global travel and loyalty ecosystem driven by crypto”. Crypto here refers to an infrastructure of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Thankfully, zero tech knowledge is required to realize the benefits of this app. The chozun途赞 model is building a community of ‘travel squads’, or people with similar tastes. With this program you can circumvent the man-made disaster of internet forums and swap rarely-shared travel tips and itineraries to unlock cities and features exclusively with the CNZ token.
chozun途赞 uses Metacritic-style scoring, using proprietary AI and data science to converge a number of data points like environment, context and behaviours to determine a perfect match between users and new experiences. This shift towards personalization could be revolutionary. Hence, the title of this article: in their whitepaper, chozun途赞 discusses unifying passionate travelers with niche adventure tourism like canyoneering, or niche personal interests like ‘halal’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘LGBTQ’. It would be pretty sweet, roving through the jungles of Cambodia, or the sidestreets of Ginza and coming across vegetarian food, kosher cuisine or whatever else you’re into, discounted just for you, right? In a blog post on Bulgaria, for example, they list activities tailored for culturalists, beach bums, foodies, neophiles, shoppers, adventurers and digital nomads. And that’s just one application.
As its data ecosystem grows, chozun途赞’s matching service will ramp up its accuracy, bringing people more of what they want. Community features include networking to make group travel pools and creating ‘challenges’. Part of the appeal of this latter feature going full tilt, I suspect, could be similar to the modern day worship of Pokémon Go, where you have to travel someplace to access a digital asset (catch the Pokémon). Only in this case, the item could be something in real life, like a missed-out monument or heritage street that never made it into a guide. Living in Korea this year, I’ve realized for the first time how many secrets a single city contains. Traveling around Seoul every weekend for 10 months, I still stumble across hidden gems that have shown themselves only on unsung internet blogs – places you’d never find out about from conventional, travel-related search engine queries.
chozun途赞 wants to revolutionize the world of ‘experience-booking’ and loyalty by linking its platform users to a growing network of ‘providers’, who will, in essence, hook travelers up with a huge range of experiences, while allowing brands to engage with its userbase. The company rewards its customers with special access to venues and events and offers CZN tokens in exchange for high quality feedback. In their whitepaper, chozun途赞 says they will disrupt a history of loyalty systems that ensure platform lock-in, preventing customers from getting rewards from multiple places. chozun途赞 also wants to use blockchain’s novel copyrighting capabilities to fairly compensate industry influencers, such as creators of travel guides.
There’s definitely a gap in the market for travelers to discover ultra-relevant travel plans quickly, easily and without FOMO from info-flooding. $185 billion is spent annually by millennial travelers, 80% of whom are “constantly connected” to the internet while abroad, likely scouring for tips and deals (UN, Google). A shift towards personalization and cutting exorbitant fees sites like booking.com charge would be huge for the travel industry. chozun途赞’s use of blockchain will cut out the fee-leeching middlemen. Funds can be distributed to experience providers upon execution of automated ‘smart contracts’ and sufficient user feedback. For some countries, like Canada, this might not be necessary but it could make waves in travel destinations with unscrupulous providers and poor customer service standards, like Vietnam (I got scammed in Ha Long Bay), Thailand (got scammed there too), South Korea (*sigh*) or Russia.
As of this writing, chozun途赞 has received a small amount of seed capital from the SOSV. They’ve got expertise from people with backgrounds in e-commerce, blockchain, entertainment, travel and health. I recognize a lot of upside to what they’re doing and it’d be cool to see them get the funding they need. I can definitely see myself using chozun途赞 in the future as a quick way to choose the best activities or navigate locales while backpacking, rather than spending half a day researching every single time I move. Whether you consider yourself a discerning millennial traveler or have funds to invest in a company with huge potential, you can check them out at chozun.com to hear their vision and view details about the upcoming ICO sale.