Travel Keys, a travel broker that operates a network of more than 5,000 luxury villas in the Caribbean, Europe and around the world, is now accepting bitcoin as a payment method. Travel Keys announced the decision on 7th March, becoming the latest luxury villa business to accept digital currency.
Bobby Gibson, the company’s CEO, spoke to CoinDesk about the decision, noting that as an avid follower of “anything and everything ‘tech'”, he’s been monitoring bitcoin for a few years.
From there, all it took was demand from guests. Said Gibson:
“Nothing gives our team more satisfaction than telling our guests ‘Yes!’. When the request from one of our international clients was received to pay for their villa in bitcoins, we were more than happy to oblige.”
Founded in 1991, Travel Keys indicates that its travel professionals and partners handpick and personally inspect each luxury villa on its network. Booking prices range from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $5,000 a night.
Once there, guests are provided concierge services, local hosts and a team of support advisors that have earned Travel Keys respectable marks from travel review services like TripAdvisor.
Selecting a service
Gibson said that Travel Keys has opted to ink its merchant processing deal with San Francisco-based Coinbase. Using this service, Gibson’s funds are converted into whatever currency his international homeowners require.
The result, Gibson suggests, is savings along the payment chain. Guests get fast, low-cost transactions, while any operational savings reaped by Travel Keys is reinvested in the customer experience.
Despite these benefits, though, Gibson said widespread bitcoin adoption in the travel industry isn’t yet likely. As an example, he named the most recent insolvency of Japan-based exchange Mt. Gox as an event that could push business away in the short term.
However, he was still optimistic about the future:
“I envision the bitcoin community rallying together to address these incidents, perhaps putting preventative exchange regulations in place, and BTC becoming a mainstream currency that travel companies would be well advised to embrace.”
More currencies possible
Though Gibson is just started accepting bitcoin, he indicated that he’s open to taking other digital currencies as well.
“If a client requests it, and it’s a proven reliable form of transmitting funds at minimal cost to the guest and/or the homeowner then I don’t see why not,” Gibson said.
As for the success of the program, Gibson was unwilling to provide details on his bitcoin buyers and their transactions.
Part of the value in booking with Travel Keys, he said, is the confidentiality you enjoy.