Over recent years, blockchain technology has generated significant excitement within many industries and fields. This is largely because it has the potential to dramatically change the way in which information or data is stored and used, enhancing transparency and security, while also improving transactions. Here, we take a more detailed look at the various ways in which blockchain is being used, or is likely to be used, within the travel industry.
Understanding Blockchain Technology: What Is It?
Although blockchain technology can sound confusing at first, it is actually pretty simple to get to grips with. Ultimately, it is a list of public records, also known as a public ledger, where transactions between parties are listed or stored. Each record, known as a ‘block’ within blockchain terminology, is secured using cryptography.
One of the most crucial aspects of blockchain technology is that data is decentralised, with information shared across a peer-to-peer network. Each block contains transaction information and a time stamp. Blocks are also permanent and cannot be altered without consensus from the entire network and without altering all subsequent blocks.
The decentralised, permanent, time stamped and unalterable nature of the data recorded in the blockchain means that data is more secure, traceable and transparent. After all, there is no central point of vulnerability or failure, and the data itself is resistant to modification and unwanted tampering.
The following video will explain more:
How Can Blockchain Benefit the Travel Industry?
In terms of the advantages blockchain technology can offer within the travel industry, stability and security rank very highly. The decentralised nature of the blockchain means that information can never go ‘offline’ or be lost through accidental deletion or a malicious cyber attack, ensuring transactions are always traceable.
The travel industry relies upon different companies passing information between one another. For example, travel agents need to pass customer details on to flight companies and hotels, while the personal belongings of travellers are often passed between companies and tracked too. Blockchain can make accessing and storing important information easier and more reliable, because responsibility for storing it is shared across the whole network.
Of course, financial transactions are a vital part of the travel industry too, and blockchain technology has the capacity to not only simplify, but also secure payments. This is especially true when dealing with overseas payments. As a consequence of this, blockchain has the potential to improve the level of trust among all parties.
More information about how the blockchain can benefit the travel industry can be found by watching the following video:
Uses or Potential Uses of Blockchain In the Travel Industry
Below are four of the most exciting uses for blockchain technology within the hospitality and travel industry.
1. Tracking Luggage
Blockchain technology can be extremely valuable for tracking the movements of luggage, especially when dealing with international travel. In many cases, a customer’s luggage changes hands multiple times over the course of their journey. Using a decentralised database makes sharing tracking data between companies a lot easier.
2. Identification Services
Identification services are enormously important for the travel industry, and blockchain could potentially become the industry standard for storing this information. Used in this way, the technology has the capacity to drastically reduce check-in times, or queues in airports, as a simple finger print or retina scan can replace showing documents.
3. Secure, Traceable Payments
Perhaps the most important use of blockchain technology within the hotel and travel industry is related to payments. Here, its applications can range from serving as a global ledger, making bank payments more simple and secure, through to allowing travel companies to accept payments using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
4. Customer Loyalty Schemes
Finally, many travel companies run customer loyalty schemes, in order to encourage return custom. Blockchain can also assist with these programmes, simplifying the process, allowing customers to more easily access information about their loyalty points, and allowing tokens to be distributed. It can also help to combat fraud in this area.
Examples of Blockchain Technology In Action
In addition to these more general examples of the way blockchain can help to transform the travel industry, there are also some more specific examples of the technology being put to good use already, such as:
In simple terms, LockChain operates as a direct marketplace for hotels and hospitality companies looking to rent out property. The platform covers payment, property management and various other aspects of the booking process. Best of all, because it uses a decentralised system, there are no middlemen and no commission fees.
An introductory video about LockChain can be found here:
2. BeeToken / Beenest
One of the most innovative current uses of Blockchain is the BeeToken or Beenest home-sharing platform. Here, the technology is used to put customers in touch with hosts, so that they can arrange and pay for stays. Again, there is no commission, while payment, reputation and arbitration protocols are all in place, keeping users safe.
More about BeeToken can be learned from this video:
3. Winding Tree
The Winding Tree platform is perhaps the foremost present-day example of baggage tracking via blockchain, and it also includes a booking element. The lack of third-party involvement means that booking and tracking can be achieved easily, safely and securely, with all processes benefiting from greater transparency.
More about Winding Tree can be learned from this video:
4. ShoCard & SITA
A collaborative project from ShoCard & SITA has seen blockchain put to use in terms of identity management. Although still in its infancy, it is hoped that the platform will soon pave the way for a decentralised ID database, using a standard format, to allow travel companies to verify customer identification quickly and easily.
The following videos explore this concept in greater detail:
One more video which explain blockchain vs identity management:
Trippki is an example of a customer loyalty reward system. Here, customers and hotel chains, or hospitality companies, are put in direct contact. Eligible customers are allocated ‘TRIP’ tokens for staying in a hotel and these tokens are permanently recorded in the blockchain, meaning they do not expire and can be used at any time.
The following video explains more about this system:
6. TUI Bed-Swap
Finally, TUI has launched its own in-house blockchain project, which it refers to as ‘Bed-Swap’. Using this technology, the company is able to move inventories between different points of sale and flex selling margins, in real-time, based on the level of demand that is present at that time.
More information is contained within the following video:
In truth, blockchain technology is less complicated to come to terms with than it may initially seem. Nevertheless, the process of learning about it can still seem daunting or overwhelming, especially to people with a limited knowledge of digital technology, encryption, cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer networking.
However, its huge potential and capacity to transform the travel industry makes learning about it important. For those who do wish to find out more, we recommend the following video from Ron Galloway:
More Digital Trends
With digital technology continuously evolving, it should come as little surprise that its applications within the travel and hospitality industry evolve too. In the following articles we piled up the most innovating digital trends in the hospitality industry.