Finally 2018, and it seems that bitcoin and its underlying technology - blockchain - have now left the creche of cryptocurrency and association with tulip bulbs and is now widely recognised as inherently useful to business. How it can best be applied to the travel and cruise industry is today’s pressing question.
To find that answer a large number of people, the author included, attended the recent TTI Blockchain event on the 07th June. For this forum, TTI assembled a team of blockchain experts who gave the lowdown on what it is and how it can potentially be used in the industry.
We learnt how the technology works and heard case studies of how it is being applied in the travel industry. Myself and our CEO, also in attendance, were specifically interested in learning more about the Travel Ledger project. The project aims to streamline payments and consolidation for all non air related components of a travel booking.
The consensus view at present is that blockchain can most gainfully be employed as something called distributed ledger technology. What differentiates it is that unlike contemporary solutions, a blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location with data validation by a trusted third party, but instead the records can be widely distributed between all stakeholders and a common truth employed to maintain data integrity.
A Distributed Ledger System (DLS)
In the travel and cruise industries, there are a plethora of sub-transactions involved across many different tiers as suppliers and customers migrate with wild abandon the once impermeable borders of B2B & B2C.
The issue then becomes how does a small business manage purchase and invoicing of transactions in a timely and cost-efficient manner? Step forward Blockchain and its capability to deliver a Distributed Ledger System (DLS)
The central idea is that those suppliers and customers with a need to transact all hold a copy of the DLS. This negates the need for a trusted third party and the associated transaction fees. Since everyone involved holds a copy of the DLS, it is extremely difficult for any wayward modifications to be made to the distributed database.
As with any disruptive technology, blockchain is the key to the door for new entrants to the travel industry to take advantage of DLS to lower transaction costs, create loyalty schemes and more.