The most dynamic and flourishing industry of the lot is the travel. To many first world and third world economies, travel and tourism have proved to be a revenue generating machine. Domestic and international travel acts as a logistic means for people.
The travel industry in each country is controlled by a public or government body; sometimes private corporations own and operate the travel sector. The travel sector comprises of all means of transport from road, rail to water and air. The recent few decades have seen the growth and boom of the airline industry. With globalization at its most intense phase, travel industry help businesses move forward.
This includes all kinds of public and private transportation from daily commutes to cross border or long distance travel. Each medium of transport dominates each of the sector like airlines dominate the international travel market and for domestic markets we have cab services and metros.
Another industry that flourishes along with travel is the hospitality industry. Hotels, lodgings, resorts and many other accommodation options; Giants like Airbnb and via.com dominate this sector. Over the years this industry has seen a fair share of changes especially after the advent of online services.
Most countries thrive on their tourism industry, countries like the UAE and most of the tropical nations. It is of the most dynamic revenue generating means for an economy. Billions are spent every year in maintaining the infrastructure and other key aspects that contribute to the development.
What blockchain brings to the table?
People who travel very often are accustomed to the challenges and inconveniences they face on regular basis like long wait time at security lines, verification of personal ID documents and overbooking issues. The challenges start even when we start planning for the travel such as booking issues. And then there are frauds that happen like fake bookings. The travel industry is hit by these frauds and rejections that amount to about $4.8 billion every year. Blockchain can resolve a lot of these issues, for consumers, for travel merchants, and for governments who are obviously deeply involved in security aspects of travel. Here are just a few uses for blockchain in the travel industry.
- Traveller Identity management
- Smart contract integration
- Payment for services
- Booking error redundancy
- Fraud prevention
Traveller Identity management
The global travel industry is humongous, which means they process millions of identity information of personnel such as passports, Visa and other identity document every single day. This paves way for data concurrency and duplication issues. But, through blockchain, biometrics, identities, and travel documents could be recorded, time-stamped and permanently stored, which can be accessed in future easily. This would eliminate The carrying and verification of documents at every checkpoint. Flight, Trains, hotels, and transportation would be streamlined for the traveller. This would provide government agencies and immigration department a higher level of security; also manage time and resources more efficiently.
Smart Contract integration
There is a huge gap in that smart contract can occupy within the travel industry. Travellers and travel agents would record transactions in a block so the travellers would not be cheated or tricked into paying more for their travel. As all the data is stored in a block, time-stamped and encrypted with cryptography the data cannot be tampered with, like for example travel agents have hidden charges or fees. Most of the travel operators have reward points or loyalty points for their frequent customers. This also can be recorded in a blockchain and implemented when and wherever needed with the terms transparently mentioned in the smart contract.
Payment for services
With the penetration of smart phones into the market many travel booking applications that provide travel solutions as a one stop shop have increased. Some of these companies have even gone ahead and created a token which have been distributed via ICO exchanges. By this means all the transaction being processed can be carried out without the aid of a fiat currency. International travellers can use these tokens to book and use services from the merchant
Booking error redundancy
One of the major hindrances faced by travellers is the overbooking issue. This is sometimes due to technical reason, but most of the time a cheap way airlines look to make profit. They accept booking slightly higher than the designated number of seats, with the hope that the cancellations would be balanced out with the extra booking as to not affect their revenue. This might lead to confusions at the time of boarding
Governments are even taking strict regulatory steps to penalize the airlines who engage in these practices. But with blockchain, passengers have greater security. Their reservations are securely stored in a block, and airlines would have no other choice but to avoid double booking.
Statistics reveal that in the last year alone over 55 million travellers have been scammed on the internet where they have booked their rooms on a websites that are fake. The total worth of transactions that customers lost in these misleading bookings was $6 billion. This is no joke with such huge figures of money involved. To avoid this, the cyber security divisions around the world have taken counter-active measure to curtail these fraudsters.
Application of Blockchain would greatly avoid such scams from occurring and also help the travellers verify the properties and vice versa before they go ahead with the booking. Since the documents and identities of the travellers are stored in blocks, travel merchants will not have to manually check bookings that are flagged for potential fraud. Traveller information is securely accessible through a blockchain, and losses to fraud significantly reduced
As the horizon of blockchain in various aspects of technology being explored, it is only imminent that businesses would indeed adapt and move toward blockchain base in the foreseeable future.