Blockchain's Influence on Tourism Distribution
Blockchain’s impact, in both conceptual and technological terms, marks a turning point in our way of traveling.
In recent months, Blockchain technology has become a buzzword in the hotel industry and has instigated a silent revolution predicated on achieving a higher security of transactions, while still remaining transparent, dynamic and economically viable. The concept is underpinned by a technology of databases with several interesting features. First of all, it is immutable, which means that, while records can be added to the database, they can never be removed or changed. Secondly, Blockchain databases are distributed among several computers which store complete or partial copies of said databases for greater security.
Why is Blockchain technology so important to the tourism industry?
While some technology travel companies, especially in the airline sector and loyalty programs, have spent a lot of time developing Blockchain prototypes, hotel distribution and revenue applications have remained at the margin of this evolution in the market. Blockchain: how to make the most of your potential in the travel industry a study carried out by the IT company Amadeus, identifies four possible practical cases in which this type of technology can be applied to travel. These examples include safer and simpler ways of identifying passengers, improved baggage tracking, more intuitive loyalty programs and simplified payment methods for travel agencies and airlines.
One of Blockchain’s staunchest defenders in the hotel industry has been the TUI Group. The company currently manages a private Blockchain on location to manage both internal processes and the distribution of its inventory of hotels and other assets.
BedSwap serves to assist with revenue management functions. Using BedSwap, TUI intends to connect its revenue infrastructure for its property management system through Blockchain. This system would allow the company to collect PMS host data and feed off Blockchain, thus creating a commercialization engine which could commercialize hosts one by one. The project is still in the testing phase and no launch date has yet been announced. One of Blockchain’s other ambitious proposals relating to distribution comes from the Swiss-based travel companyWinding Tree, which aims to build a decentralised distribution platform which will replace OTAs in transactions with consumption/travel providers.
What immediate impact could the implementation of Blockchain have on travelers’ day-to-day lives?
La escuela de negocios The Valley Digital Business School has set out some of the main advantages related to the consumer and with the greatest impact on the traveler. These include the distribution of different roles assigned to players in relation to this new technology. Let’s look at the proposed advantages:
1. Creation of virtual identifiers. We replace documentation with the users’ biometric data: fingerprint, face or eye scanning will allow customers to access any room or service for hire.
2. Transparency in traveler feedback. Creation of a decentralised, universally accessible system which would allow users to express opinions and evaluate their experiences with different travel companies with full transparency, creating an atmosphere of trust never seen before.
3. Virtual currency. Although we usually regard Bitcoin as the standard, it would also be possible to create a virtual exchange currency for every tourist destination or for any event, festival or formal occasion.
4. Initiatives to incentivise tourism. This consists of rewarding tourists who visit certain monuments, museums, historical sites or commercial areas (e.g. initiativess relating to green tourism, rewarding travellers who opt to use eco-friendly means of transport, etc.).
5. Safer, easier and cheaper payments. As Blockchain is based on a distributed and immutable database, transactions and their corresponding records are not only instantaneous, but also easily detectable and irreversible, which prevents duplicate charges, fraud or any other type of manipulation.
Blockchain technology meets the need for a more transparent traveler market. The disintermediation of some services forces certain operators to jockey for position when using a technology that demands constant renewal. The tourism industry has to take advantage of this willingness to change, optimizing its systems and adhering to its commitment to service in the face of approaching innovations.