Higher 2 Fly

Theodore Mathioudakis

© 2024 Theodoros Mathioudakis

The bankruptcy of FTI and the importance of Open Web

Posted at # long read # thoughts

Yesterday FTI, one of the biggest tour operators, declared bankruptcy. TBH I don’t know the exact reasons behind it, but this event triggered some thoughts about the importance of decentralized communities and control over specific services and tools that everyone is using and affected by.

I’ll start by saying that this event had side effects on me, for two main reasons. Firstly, because I worked for FTI for almost four years. I actually worked for ANIXE which, during my employment there, became a 100% subsidiary of FTI. I left the company because I wanted to try different things, but I maintained a very good relationship with some of my past colleagues who are(?) still working for FTI during the time that this article is written. Secondly, because I am originally from Crete (Greece). An island (and a country) which is heavily dependent to tourism.

You can easily imagine the financial and psychological impact that this bankruptcy had to my environment. I will not focus on these details thought.

I will continue by making an assumption. This bankruptcy took place because of AirBnB and similar platforms

What I mean by that. To whom ever has live in cities with high number of such short-stay-properties, is more than obvious that the entrance of AirBnB and similar short-stay platforms in the market, has caused a very big redistribution of wealth. A big percentage of money that initially were targeted to hotels and big touristic units, has now been shared to small property owners of the same areas, and this is a great thing!

Side note: I totally agree that there are also negative side effects in some cases and that there should be regulations, but this is a whole different topic

So, how are all a these things connected with open web? Well, all these people that were arranging their vacations with FTI will now have to be rerouted to different channels. Some of them will go to tour operators again and some will go to Airbnb-like platforms. If you can visualize this whole situation you understand this is about a redistribution of power, and the part of FTIs power is now shared between other operators and these platforms.

The Open Web and the promise of freedom In my mind the difference between the big tour operators and the platforms, is a battle of democracy against capitalism. Tour operators are all these giants that are having the power to control and shift the tourism to the direction they (or their commanders) want.

How the short-term renting platforms are different, you will ask. Isn’t AirBnB a giant that controls the market? Actually it is not. Yes, it has become a very big corporation with the biggest market share, BUT AirBnB doesn’t control the mediums, the areas and all the systems related to their business.

Tour operators, given the power they have in each geographical area, can control where the tourists will be routed, which shops will collaborate with which hotels and touristic units, which shops, restaurants, stores will be supported etc. Also, in most cases tour operators, because of their centralized power, are deeply connected with politics. (FTI extend their life for 4 years during and after Covid with the support of German government. Google for more details).

On the other hand the power of AirBnB-like platforms is their hosts. Each individual can decide in which platform they will post their property, they decide in which restaurants and shops will send their guests, which stores they will support etc and of course they are taking the biggest percentage of each payment. Usually this is having a wave effect of many small businesses popping up in these areas and be sustainable for as long they offer good quality and be competitive to other small businesses in the area. This creates a much healthier competition in these areas that helps them flourish.

Tour operators cannot be created, from everyday people. They require huge funds, connections and power to control many things. Platforms like AirBnB, from the other hand, can. And the reason they can is the existence of World Wide Web, which should stay uncontrolled, accessible and free to used by anyone. An open web available for everyone to create whatever they want and give it to the world.