We explore how companies like Winding Tree, DeskBell, Tratok and TravelChain are using blockchain to help change the travel and tourism industry.
The travel and tourism industry was worth $2.5 trillion last year and employed some 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. As more of the world joins the middle class, so the desire for travel goes up.
But while business is booming, there are underlying issues. The rise of intermediaries like travel search engines, hosting services and flight trackers have meant the providers of key services - hotels, flights, tour operators - are often receiving less of the travel pie. Consumers too, are finding it harder to plan trips without using these middlemen.
Can these issues be remedied by blockchain? These four companies certainly think so.
As we outlined earlier, intermediaries in the travel industry have cut into profits and pushed up prices for consumers. Winding Tree wants to change that.
The network Winding Tree is developing connects buyers and sellers via a set of smart contracts and open-source tools effectively removing the need - and the margins - imposed by the middlemen.
The network doesn’t charge suppliers, instead taking fractional transactional fees that update automatically according to how complex the contract is.
The whole thing is built on top of Ethereum, and has its own ERC20 compatible token, the Lif which has the added benefit of being able to send value, hold data and execute functionality.
Hotels have to have a presence online. In addition to their own website, they need to be on portals, review sites and other spaces, too. That can seriously eat into the bottom line of small businesses.
Companies like DeskBell want to change that.
DeskBell connects hotels and suppliers with a suite of tools that allow them to reach customers online easier and quicker. In addition, it's a global marketplace for goods and services and also as a distribution centre for targeted information (local advertisements, information about the hotel itself, the surrounding area, prices and offers) and interactive events (assignments from both the hotel and the tourist business).
It’s a unique offering that helps hotels spend less on IT logistics by cutting out the middleman.
If you’ve ever booked a holiday overseas, the chances are you’ll have unwittingly used a currency conversion service to change your money to the country it's based in. You wouldn’t have noticed it, but it happened, and the price of your trip was more expensive as a result thanks to the fees companies charge to change the currency for you.
On top of that, there are hidden transaction fees from your card provider, leading to more profits for middlemen, lower revenues for providers and higher prices for tourists. That’s where Tratok comes in.
The Token hopes to solve three main problems:
The result is a frictionless system where consumer and provider can both benefit.
Data is big business. Especially in the travel/tourism industry. Travel providers only interact with tourists at the point of sale, and are often prohibited from accessing that data to help them tailor their services more effectively by middlemen.
Tourists, too, often have their data scraped and used by companies to sell services that they might not have wanted and needed. TravelChain wants to close that data gap, and incentivise both groups along the way.
When a user releases their data to potential hotels, the user earns tokens and hotels can offer bespoke services or packages to a traveler to best suit them.
It allows travellers to utilise their data - something they’ve not been able to do before - and travel operators to learn more about customers in a system that’s beneficial for both.
The travel industry is set to continue growing at a record past in the next few years. In order to do so, blockchain companies are helping unleash data, lower transaction fees and remove more middlemen to provide greater benefit to those offering holidays to those wanting to go on them.