How Blockchain will Disrupt Corporate Travel

Few things have captured the tech industry’s collective consciousness in the past year more than Blockchain. For the uninitiated, Blockchain is a decentralized (scattered across the Internet) public ledger on steroids. A ‘block’ is a record of a transaction. That could be cryptocurrency, it could be university grades, it could be medical records or other important data that users want secure, while at the same time transparent and instantly accessible. The linking of these encrypted blocks creates the ‘chain’. The linking happens by way of a key, a futuristic ‘large integer’ password of sorts.

Still confused? In order to send money to your cousin in Australia you used to require a bank or equivalent establishment, and typically loaded with heavy transaction fees and processing delays required to validate the transfer. Blockchain all but eliminates the middlemen, and validates the transfer (almost) instantly.

“As revolutionary as it sounds, Blockchain truly is a mechanism to bring everyone to the highest degree of accountability. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.”  – Ian Khan, TEDx Speaker | Author | Technology Futurist

One of the most recent innovations between Blockchain and the tourism industry comes from Aruba. A partnership between two major airlines (Lufthansa and Air New Zealand) and Winding Tree a travel technology specialist, has positioned Aruba to be the first official country to apply Blockchain as a tool in its tourism distribution platform.

Launching early 2018, the platform will connect Aruba’s numerous boutiquel hotels to a prospective market. Built on Ethereum, the platform offers the use of Blockchain to incorporate smart contracts. These smart contracts offer a more efficient, customizable and secure interface for dealings between customers and vendors. This move is part of Aruba’s overarching plan to implement a “Smart Island Strategy” that aims to make the country run on 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Similarly, the Australia firm Webjet partnered with Microsoft to announce a Proof-of-Concept solution that uses Blockchain to streamline it’s hotel reservations. They claim it will:

  • Remove the risk of data inaccuracies – ensuring all parties are paid the correct and agreed amounts and boosting customer experiences as bookings are not lost or inaccurate
  • Streamline payment processes – invoices are captured and paid in a timely manner with significantly reduced reconciliation costs
  • Boost data security – made of individual data nodes and as a read/write-once database, blockchain reduces fraud and establishes trust and accountability
  • Resolve pain points in the payment process – wholesalers and hotels can focus on improving the customer experience, rather than addressing issues in the booking process.

Webjet’s Managing Director, John Guscic said “Globally, hotel room wholesaling is a hundred-billion-dollar marketplace. Every day there are millions of transactions taking place and a single hotel stay could involve five or more transactions in the distribution chain. This marketplace can be prone to data discrepancies due to the volume of bookings passing through multiple systems. Between five and 10% of bookings can be impacted or, in other words, up to 10 billion dollars’ worth of transactions”.

From Worldgo’s perspective, we are trusted with a client’s budget, as well as highly personal information such as passport numbers and personal travel preferences. Having Blockchain as an ‘unhackable’ platform to store these ‘blocks’, and to process unique transactions eliminates a host of potential risk issues, and with the aid of a crystal ball, it should be able to reduce transactional fees. A reduction in errors and omissions as well as transactional savings could be enough to make a noticeable improvement on everyone’s bottom line.

By Aaron Smith