Europe's Voice of Tourism

Technology Startups: an interview with Simona Graziani

Simona Graziani is a new member of Skal International. She is a technology startupper with a very new concept for the hotel industry that has many consequences on the social value of holidays and sharing economy.

SE: Please tell us something about your decision to become a startupper and your current role in finding new solutions for the world of hospitality.

After years of experience in big companies, I felt the need to dedicate my time and effort to a project I felt was mine, and not spend my entire life working for someone else objective. This is why I decided to quit my previous job and launch Takyon, along with Antonio Picozzi, Niccolò Francesco Marino and Vincenzo Bonaccorso.

In my exciting role as a startupper, my objective is to leverage new technologies to find concrete solutions to real-life problems, and not for the mere seek of innovations. In Takyon, we want to revolutionize how people plan and book their hotel stays. More precisely, we apply Blockchain technology to hotels’ reservations, transforming them into NTFs (not fungible tokens) and making them transferable. To do this, we launched the ”Resellable Rate” bookable directly on hotels’ websites, which travellers can then resell on Takyon, the first-ever travel marketplace.

As Takyon CMO, I’m constantly focused on identifying market needs, understanding customer pain points and working with the team to improve our innovative solution that is driving a huge change in the travel industry, with concrete benefits for both travellers and hotels.

SE: Was it difficult to get financing? What could you tell a prospect startupper in this respect?

Securing financing for any startup is challenging, and the fintech and hospitality industries are no exception. On top on this, Italy is still behind other countries in terms of startup investments, with average tickets 10 times lower than in the US.

In our case, we finalized a first pre-seed round in February, leveraging on Business Angels, and are now preparing the seed round involving also Venture Capitals by showcasing the market potential of our solution, the uniqueness of our positioning and the experienced team behind Takyon.

It’s important for prospective startuppers to thoroughly research and understand their target market, build a solid network and create a compelling story that aligns with investors’ interests.

SE: Your solution offers a brilliant way to open the market of prepaid reservations. Do you think this will be the beginning of a secondary market of tourism products or will it be limited to community sharing?

Due to the pandemic, prepaid not-refundable rates suffered a sudden closure as travellers needed to secure their bookings and be more flexible in case of last-minute COVID-19 positivity. This remained the same just after the pandemic with customers accustomed to cancellable rates. However, with inflation growing by 6,4% on an annual basis, people are more and more searching for deals and the best prices when booking a trip.

In this context, our solution is the best ever combo as, at the lowest price of a non-refundable booking, people have the flexibility to resell it in case of plans change and recover the money spent. 

On the other side, the “Resellable Rate” is only available on the direct channel of the hotels, representing a new and strong tool for disintermediation. Moreover, prepaid not-ref booking allows hotels to have a secured and advanced cash flow and optimize their financial planning.

With these premises, we strongly believe that Takyon will become THE secondary market for travel bookings, including not only hotel stays but also transportation and experiences solutions.

As people are used to buying and selling their physical goods on eBay, they will land on Takyon to get inspiration for their next trip and find great deals and sold-out solutions.

Blockchain solutions often require large quantities of energy at a time when we try to limit consumption. How do you feel about the environmental impact of your software?

At Takyon, we recognize the importance of environmental sustainability. That’s why we operate on a “Proof Of Stake” chain, which does not use old-fashioned and polluting mining solutions, having our consumption comparable to any other service.

Moreover, for us Sustainability also means resource optimization and with Takyon we finally give life to “second-hand” hotel reservations, allowing at the same time people to recover the money spent on their bookings.