Not only could blockchain technology benefit tour operators, it could potentially provide a digital ‘identity’ for individuals. The potential to verify individuals’ identity in one single transaction at point of purchase could transform airport queues.
Here are five companies in the travel industry looking at using blockchain technology to transform the industry. A top five like this is always going to be subjective so we’ve tried to pick companies where the impact is likely to felt most or, in the case of Cool Cousin, a business that is already challenging an established business model.
The world’s largest tourism company, TUI recently announced plans to move all its data to the blockchain.
Friedrich Joussen, CEO of TUI Group, said: “It will be very difficult for intermediaries to have sustainable business cases. These platforms build reach by spending billions on advertising, and then they create monopolistic margins on top of what they have as sales and marketing. They do offer great sales and marketing. Booking.com is a great brand, but they create superior margins because they have monopolistic structures. Blockchain destroys this.”
The enthusiasm of TUI for blockchain is so great they have an animated film on their website explaining how it works and how it will impact the travel industry.
Winding Tree is a blockchain-based distribution platform for the travel industry. In their own words, ”the travel industry is highly concentrated on the distribution front due to core inefficiencies of the internet. The need of a trusted party on the internet allowed intermediaries to concentrate the sector and raise the barrier of entry for new startups. In travel, consumer facing intermediaries often source their inventory from other B2B intermediaries causing double marginalisation and inflating the prices. Winding Tree is building a decentralised alternative, to the current concentrated travel distribution landscape, where anyone can access inventory directly from the suppliers.”
The Winding Tree platform uses the Lif token which is ERC20 compatible and allows additional functionality required by travel companies to send the necessary information within the transaction. As well as technological functionality there is also the savings on exchange rates and transaction charges.
Accenture PLC/World Economic Forum (WEF)
The Known Traveler Digital Identity utilises biometrics, cryptography and distributed ledger technology to give travelers control over their information and the ability to share it with authorities in advance of travel. The aim is to improve clearance times at border crossings.
This blockchain is designed to collect and host identifying information from frequent travelers. This information will enable an improved flow of data between travelers and customs agents to drive efficiencies into the border clearance process.
For travelers, this means gaining control over their digital identities with better security (due to the distributed ledger technology). Airports and airlines benefit from quicker processing, improved security and shorter passport control queues.
The Government of Canada announced it will pioneer the testing of the Known Traveler Digital Identity system which was launched at the WEF’s 2018 Annual Meeting (January 2018, Switzerland).
Making its debut in February 2018 (following an ICO launch). TravelChain is a public blockchain that serves as a database of information surrounding the preferences and habits of individual travelers. TravelTokens are the cryptocurrency that underpins the system and were distributed in the ICO.
Travelers share their information which is then shared on the blockchain. They get rewarded with TravelTokens when they share information; businesses can access the blockchain information for a fee.
This means travelers can be offered tailored packages by suppliers (hotel owners for example) based on their travel preferences and experiences shared and stored on the blockchain. This will potentially save a lot of money on PPC and other advertising for suppliers
For the traveler the reward for sharing information is a great incentive. After all, Expedia et al know consumers preferences and use the information to make offers so why shouldn’t the consumer benefit directly?
Launched in 2016, Cool Cousin is a venture capital backed company that is used by over 500,000 travelers worldwide. Targeting the Millennial market, they connect travelers with a person (a “Cousin”) in the intended destination city to offer them personalised city guidance and information. So the traveler can get unbiased local advice about timing their visit, where they should stay, tickets for special occasions, current events, customised itineraries and more.
In the company’s own words, Cool Cousin is on its way to becoming a game-changing decentralised travel agency for the Millennial and Gen Z traveler: Using blockchain technology and powered by the crypto token CUZ, Cool Cousin will offer travelers “diverse and affordable premium services, while creating a new source of income for locals around the world, without compromising the content’s trustworthiness”.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.