ITM encourages any innovation or technological enhancement which could simplify and bring value to the travel industry. Due to the range of intermediaries and service providers involved in an end to end journey, reliant upon passing information and data between one another, there may be potential scope.
Both Corporates and business travellers are increasingly concerned about data security therefore any improvements, simplification and standardization to data access and storage embraced. The ability to share responsibility via decentralization across the whole value chain may also be valued.
ITM believe travellers/travel arrangers want to know their data is safe and secure. Tamper-proof block chain capabilities may positively impact security as information cannot be lost through deletion or cyber-attack. In an industry which relies on data transfers; agents pass customer details to airlines and hotels; traveller records are sent to security companies; luggage is tracked; secure global payments between parties; this could be invaluable.
As blockchain transactions are fully traceable; payment is another aspect for consideration. A blockchain carries no actual transaction cost (the costs are in the infrastructure), so any process or model which relies upon charging fees for transactions could effectively be displaced. This could impact any transaction or ‘information passage’ i.e. ticket purchases, card payment, Identity management, audits. etc. Companies could also explore alternative payment solutions such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Disruption is feasible in areas with intermediaries such as the ‘sharing economy’ including taxis and accommodation. Currently many of these services rely upon an intermediary, however if peer-to-peer payments are enabled, a blockchain could facilitate direct interaction between parties, the result; a truly decentralized sharing economy.
At present, blockchain technology is underutilised despite widespread publicity. Whilst there is undoubtedly potential, full benefits are yet to be realised. That said, a number of established industry participants (including airlines, hotels and GDS) already work with the technology to a degree, so it will be interesting to watch if the travel industry adopts blockchain on a larger scale.
As with any new technology, it is key members and their stakeholders understand the limitations and assess whether it provides the right solution to the problem statement in question.
If utilized, the ITM buyer membership should be aware of related costs and/or savings and ensure these are reflected in supplier pricing strategies.
A blockchain is a time-stamped series of data records managed by a cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. Each data ‘block’ is secured and bound to one another using cryptographic principles (i.e. a chain of encryptions and decryptions). It is therefore a simple yet clever way of passing information from A to B in a fully automated and safe manner.
Defining principles; decentralisation, transparency, security (tamper-proof)
Blockchain has the potential to dramatically change the way data is used and stored, enhancing transparency and security, whilst improving transactions.