The mission of our nonprofit is to encourage and facilitate global tourism and travel. Our main focus (but not exclusive) is on cultural tourism which we believe is the engine behind economic growth, technological innovation, greater connectivity and good global citizenry. We strive to achieve this goal by developing informational products which benefit those who locally provide tourism services.
Why do we need more transparency and information in the cultural tourism industry today?
An important characteristic of the tourism and travel industries are the large markups over cost and the presence of intermediaries who exploit them. It is not uncommon for example for a self-employed tour guide to be forced to remit more than 50% of her revenue to a private intermediary/broker company which referred her the tourists. These substantial markups and charges ultimately end up hurting the small local service providers by decreasing their revenues and quality of service. But they also hurt visitors and consumers of these services by hiking prices.
This market structure impedes the cultural exchange and connectivity between local service providers and the visitors and makes the relationship with the broker/intermediary the primary economic link for both sides. To read more about the benefits of direct connectivity and its role in stimulating economic growth and technological development please consult the following World Bank research paper https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3177233
The theater and live event industries have similar characteristics. Brokers and speculators often purchase tickets for popular events ahead of time and resell them at huge markups. This is possible because of the informational asymmetry between buyers and sellers. In a decentralized market with multiple vendors it is difficult and time consuming to find the original, low-cost seller for the event. This ultimately ends up financially hurting the artists who are the main reason these markets exist.
The presence of intermediaries and middlemen is not new of course. And often their actions can be beneficial by facilitating the connection between buyers and sellers who would have hard time finding each other in the marketplace otherwise. But we believe the problem lies in the considerable size of the intermediaries and the large economic profits they can extract by simply exploiting their dominant market position.
Our mission is to reduce this problem by designing data-driven informational products which connect the consumer with the final provider of the service. These include articles, price comparison charts, notification tools and more. We believe that with the help of the internet and the ever-developing technological infrastructure there is no reason preventing the direct linkage between consumers of cultural services and the small local providers of these services and artists. We firmly believe that nonprofits like ours can further advance cultural exchange and bring on the numerous positive externalities for everyone that come with it.