Cheapair.com has generated over $1.5 million in sales paid for by Bitcoin since accepting for payment in November 2013. Coinbase facilitated the integration, which lets customers pay with bitcoins while the vendor receives the full sale amount in fiat.
The site helps customers find and book flights, hotels and other travel services for the best rates. They decided to accept the digital currency after one customer requested to pay for his flight with bitcoins. Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir, commented:
“If our customers have a need, we’ll go to great lengths to come up with a solution. In this case, that meant finding a way to accept bitcoin payments for airline and hotel transactions that traditionally were only done with cash or credit card. We appreciate how easy Coinbase made it for us to do so. In retrospect, it was one of the best decisions we’ve made for our business and our customers.”
To celebrate the milestone, CheapAir is holding a Twitter-based contest. The winner will be flown in to the “Inside Bitcoins: The Business of the Cryptocurrency World” conference, to be held in London in September.
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By way of comparison, Overstock.com was one of the highest profile sites to accept Bitcoin and reached the $1.6 million mark in 5 months.
Expedia, one of the biggest players in the space, made headlines last month when it announced that it too plans on accepting bitcoins for hotel bookings.
The flight, hotel and travel group of industries is generally highly competitive and profit margins are typically low. On top of this, online services looking to capitalize upon the competitive landscape are themselves operating on razor thin margins. Expedia and others have struggled to turn a profit in recent years.
Their accepting of Bitcoin and early success in doing so is therefore to be expected. The savings in credit card fees, less those levied by their Bitcoin payment provider, can make a meaningful difference in a low margin environment.