Blockchain is most often associated with cryptocurrencies, but the advantages of the technology have shown to be useful in many other areas, for example in the hospitality and tourism industry.
In the travel business sphere, hoteliers and airlines encounter many problems that they could have avoided — from high commissions and transaction fees to inefficiencies in the finance and banking industry. Though, travelers need to deal with many different players like car rentals, hotels, and other touristic companies. And this may involve many added costs.
What are the benefits of blockchain in the hospitality and travel industry?
Blockchain technology has several advantages for those operating in hospitality management, with one in every of the foremost obvious being the security and stability benefits. For example, all data is decentralized and traceable, and also the database can never go offline, or be removed through a cyber-attack, which may be important when addressing financial transactions.
To make businesses operate easier, blockchain can help hotels record transaction between two parties in a secure and verifiable way. Now that has got to be super useful to the hospitality and travel industry as a lot happens (bookings, supply, payments, transportation, travel agencies, etc) between parties within the hospitality industry online.
Also, blockchain removes the necessity for intermediaries and offer a decentralized and secure system for interaction between different parties. Plus, there’s a promise for improved transparency and reduced costs.
How does blockchain work in hospitality & tourism? 7 examples
Although the potential uses for the blockchain within the travel industry are almost limitless, some applications have already emerged and are having a transformative effect, while others are just around the corner.
1. Loyalty and Rewards Management
Any business will tell you that retaining an existing customer is a lot more cost-effective than acquiring a new one. Therefore, every hospitality organization will need information systems to manage the reward points. Now, think about a blockchain-based platform where the loyalty point is a digital asset and is accrued by customers and then, assign a dollar value to it. Every partner on the blockchain platform can define their own digital asset and the associated fiat value. By doing this, the guests immediately get the flexibility to redeem their loyalty points with any partner/merchant that is participating on the platform. One can also envision the possibility of gifting loyalty points to friends and family members, making the whole rewards program flexible, seamless, and highly customer-friendly.
2. Supply Chain Management
For a supply chain to be effective, it is essential for all parties to exercise a certain level of trust within themselves. The blockchain-based solution could provide consecutive data persistence across a distributed system where records can be secured cryptographically using reliable identities.
This solution could also establish trust without the need for an intermediary by guaranteeing data stored is immutable and any updates are appended with an appropriate audit trail. This builds an unconditional association between the data and its creator through consensus with undeniable proof of its origin.
3. Secure payments
The most evident practical application of the blockchain in the hotel industry is in relation to secure payments. Whether it is the acceptance of cryptocurrencies, or just the provision of a transparent, safe, global ledger, bank payments. They can be streamlined, and associated costs for hotels can be reduced.
4. ID and Security
One of the most spectacular potential uses of the blockchain in hospitality is related to identification and security services. Passengers are required to provide ID at different stages of their journey, but industry-wide adoption of the blockchain could potentially allow for a shared digital database, with passengers providing, for example, a fingerprint to quickly and seamlessly confirm who they are, reducing waiting times.
5. Baggage tracking
The uses of the blockchain within the travel industry extend to things like luggage tracking. Typically, a traveler’s luggage changes hands many times over the course of a journey, which can result in logistical issues. The centralized nature of the blockchain can allow different companies to easily share and access related data.
6. Food and Beverage (F&B)
By leveraging blockchain technology, companies along the food supply chain can trace each step in processing, sourcing, and storing the product. Successful implementation would require the systems of all players in the value chain to be interoperable, which means that all data must be collected and tokenized to facilitate the free exchange of information around the supply chain of F&B. As the data on the blockchain platform would be unchangeable (immutable), this greatly increases the visibility and transparency of the food supply chain.
7. Tax & Accounting
The supply chain can be difficult in the hospitality industry. That leads to the addition of multiple layers of taxation thereby increasing the headache of the buyers as well as suppliers.
One of the major uses of blockchain for the hospitality and travel industry is integrating these multiple layers of taxation to simplify payments for the payee as well as the payer.
Blockchain use cases in the hospitality and travel industry
Blockchain is already in use in the travel and hotel industry. The 5 most interesting examples of how tech companies help hotels, customers, and the industry in general, are below.
The first use case the company came up with was in its hotel business. The travel giant decided to use blockchain technology to iron out the inefficiencies and create one database. TUI successfully added a yield management system, allowing the company to swap beds wherever there was higher demand. This technology significantly reduced costs and made TUI one of the early adopters of blockchain in the travel industry.
The LockTrip is a direct marketplace driven by blockchain technology that allows hotels and other hospitality companies to rent out their property. It is an all-in-one platform, allowing both property management and payment to take place in one area. The decentralized booking engine cuts out intermediaries and another big advantage is that LockTrip runs a subscription model, with a zero percent commission policy.
Trippki was created in 2017 by a group of like-minded travelers and blockchain enthusiasts who saw the enormous potential of this new technology. Their vision was to introduce new payment systems and innovations in reducing commissions paid by hotels to acquire customers.
Trippki has started to make use of the blockchain through the launch of its loyalty reward system. The service benefits from cutting out third-party involvement and provides a direct connection between hotels and customers. Customers are rewarded with ‘TRIP’ tokens for staying at a hotel, or using hotel services. The TRIP tokens are recorded in the ledger, do not expire and can be used to book future visits, or can be exchanged for cash.
4. ShoCard & SITA
With the use of a mobile app and facial recognition, travelers can only be identified once and quickly verified by non-affiliated airlines, airports, or other agencies. Travelers’ data is kept private with them on their phone and only shared with their permission. With SITA Digital Traveler Identity App their data can be authenticated by other airlines using blockchain technology securely and without compromising traveler privacy of information. (ShoCard, Travel Identity of the future)
Traveler-friendly blockchain technology
Blockchain can help in revenue management, integrating software, content management, API acceleration, managing and promoting direct bookings, and more.
Since the hospitality industry is interested, blockchain provides a base for reliable and secure payments, it can enhance customer loyalty programs, make layered and complex supply chain transparent and clear like never before — thus benefiting the hospitality and travel industry in multiple ways.
Early adopters of emerging technologies like blockchain will be a step ahead in the highly competitive race for the consumers` attention — and it doesn’t depend on the type of the industry.