While small businesses are particularly vulnerable to loss of revenue on account of fraud, consumers can find themselves the victim of countless scams when dealing with businesses on and off the web.9 Customers have to be increasingly cautious as they navigate the various marketplaces they interact with on a daily basis.10 The travel industry can be uniquely prone to fraud, especially while continuously adjusting to an increasingly mobile world. Beyond fraud, customers can be forced into a position where they must trust that they’ll get what they paid for without guarantee or assurance.
Techniques like credit card skimming have made such transactions worrying for customers. In spite of industry changes, credit cards still lack the needed measures to prevent fraud. The current systems around credit card usage are full of trade-offs and compromises that have ultimately caused the consumer and the business owner to suffer without decreasing the likelihood of falling prey to an attack.
Small business owners have to concern themselves with how and when they will receive a customer’s payment, but customers can not be sure that they will always get what they paid for. Especially when a customer pays with cash, it can be impossible to get refunds on goods and services improperly rendered. The trust consumers have to place in businesses was what made online reviews so attractive to customers, but customers have since become wary of five-star reviews, which in turn, has caused a strange “race to the middle” for businesses. Consumers often turn to friends or family for advice in order to lower their risk, but this is not an easy task on a road trip. They are ultimately forced to take a leap of faith that the road ahead will not be a rocky one.
When a customer deals with a big chain store, they can normally be confident that they will get what they paid for and feel safe during the transaction. When visiting a small business in a new town, however, customers often do not know what to expect. An adventurous individual may not mind the “unknown”, but to a safety-conscious parent, this risk can be discouraging.
Information is a traveller’s greatest tool when planning a trip. Far beyond how to reach their desired location, travelers also want to know what activities are available, the varieties of food offered, and whether or not a given establishment is kid-friendly, not to mention numerous other important details such as the availability of WiFi. The Internet has created a medium for individuals to share their knowledge for businesses to explain in detail the experience they offer, but this data can become buried or obsolete quickly, making useful searches difficult. Travelers can discover dozens of truly unique businesses and attractions on a single trip, but they risk wasting time and money if they rely merely on trial-and-error. Current avenues for staying informed during a trip are often unreliable, littered with outdated information and unverified user reviews.