Blockchain technology is poised to revolutionize the way we travel. The use of blockchain in tourism is going to provide a new experience altogether in the way we book travel tickets and hotel rooms, providing a seamless user experience.
The global tourism market crossed USD 8 trillion in 2017. It is forecasted to have year on year growth rate of 4.7% to reach USD 11.38 trillion by 2025. The use of digital technologies like blockchain in tourism will only help in expanding the sector further. Many companies have realized the potential benefits of blockchain and have applied the technology at their workplace.
Applications of Blockchain in Tourism Industry
Blockchain has raised a plethora of interest in the tourism industry. Many major companies have incorporated blockchain technology in their services. The following are the ways blockchain is being utilized in the tourism sector
Decentralized Payment System
Blockchain enables transportation assets to be better utilized right from the planning to the travel stage. The primary application of blockchain in tourism is to enable secure, traceable payments. The first step in international travel is booking of flight tickets. This process is relatively easy in today's age. However, the process can be simplified even further using blockchain-based methods. Winding Tree is an open-source distribution ecosystem which facilitates the process of booking flight and hotel tickets. It has resulted in reduced transaction costs up to 20% for consumers availing blockchain facility for ticket bookings. Airline companies like Air New Zealand have incorporated blockchain technology, making the ticket sales process less complicated. It can also help prevent over boarding of flights. Payments for the services can be made quickly and securely using blockchain methods. Thus, it enables faster checkout during transactions.
Blockchain uses cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which eliminates the need for using digital payment methods that rely on third-party payment apps.. The payment can be made between the two parties involved directly. This forgoes the need for a payment merchant altogether. The need for payment gateway companies like Visa and MasterCard may become obsolete because of blockchain technology. A future where a person walks into an airport and directly boards a flight without having to stand in queues for verification or even letting go of third party apps like Expedia to get the best deal will be possible because of blockchain technology. Private cab aggregators like Uber and Lyft will only help drive the technology forward. Blockchain-based payments will help minimize the time taken for the completion of payments. It will also facilitate payments for customers using autonomous cab services. Transactions are completed by deducting the amount automatically from the user's digital currency.
Governments can also utilize blockchain technology to provide a quicker, secure experience for people using public modes of transport. The need for a physical rail and bus ticket can be eliminated due to blockchain and AI technologies. A single database would be sufficient to map a user's travel across all modes of services used by the customer. A single identification and payment method will be sufficient to avail the various public transportation services. Governments can also regulate private transportation services by incorporating them into the blockchain system. The payments can also be made easily using blockchain on a daily or monthly basis at the user’s convenience.
Another area in which blockchain is useful is eliminating the need for physical contracts. Blockchain lets go of physical documentation, replacing it with digital ones. Digital contracts are signed, which are time-saving and can also be helpful in case of a dispute. A digital copy of the agreement can be used by the consumer to understand the terms and conditions stated by the service provider.
Customer identification is crucial for the travel and tourism industry. Immigration officials must verify the identity of every foreign tourist for security reasons. Blockchain has the potential to transform the current practices for verification of travelers. The present scenario requires a traveler to produce identification at multiple stages like airport check-in and immigration.. This results in significant wastage of time, which accumulates at every stage. . Blockchain will reduce the time spent for customer verification at immigration, check-in times at hotels, long queues at embassies, facilitating a time-efficient experience. The need for a passport may also be eliminated if international governments adopt blockchain technology for their tourism industry. However, this seems a bit far-fetched as it will be hard for major countries to adopt blockchain technologies. ShoCard is a digital identity platform built on blockchain to authenticate people without usernames and passwords. Blockchain eliminates the need for the username and password methodology used for digital payments. The system is also more secure as it doesn’t contain a central database, which the hackers can exploit.
Baggage handling is one of the critical aspects of the aviation sector. Instances of misappropriation of baggage is a significant issue faced today. Baggage mishandling and loss is a common concern today for airline companies. International baggage has to change multiple hands during transportation. The luggage is misplaced in transit due to human error. Baggage loss or mishandling can be reduced significantly using blockchain and other technologies. Blockchain data can be used to identify and monitor luggage. It can be used with AI and sensor technologies to determine the location of the baggage, in case it gets misplaced. Sensors can be attached to bags to track their exact location even if the handlers misplace it. The use of blockchain in tourism for baggage management helps eliminate the baggage loss issues faced in the industry today.
Customer Rewards System
Travel service providers run loyalty schemes to encourage returning customers. Blockchain can assist with these programs, allowing customers to access their loyalty rewards easily. Services using blockchain can reward the customer with cryptocurrencies, which can be used for future travel. They also eliminate the need for a third-party mediator platform. Services like Trippki uses a loyalty reward system for their customers. Customers are allocated crypto tokens for staying in hotels. These tokens are permanently recorded in the blockchain which can be used during future transactions. The use of blockchain in tourism helps companies retain customers and increase their revenues. It also helps combat fraud in this field as the blockchain data cannot be manipulated.
Transparent Business Ratings
People are increasingly using the internet to check forums and read user reviews before traveling. However, their accuracy cannot always be guaranteed. Many businesses put up fake reviews for themselves as well as their competitors. These fraudulent activities have become more rampant because of increased competition. This has led businesses to adopt illegal activities to promote their businesses. The users’ experience may be completely different than what they may have imagined from reading reviews online. It reduces the trust a user has with regards to other online reviews that he may encounter. Data stored on blockchain is highly secure, which enables greater transparency and consumer trust.