How to Leverage Blockchain Technology in the Travel and Hospitality Industries?
13 experts shared their view
Blockchain technology is directly connected to the concept of a utopian metaverse, as the ideal vision of embodied internet can only be achieved through decentralization. This is where blockchain technology comes in, providing a secure, transparent, and decentralized way of recording data, making it an attractive solution for various industries, including ours.
In travel and hospitality, blockchain can be utilized for various purposes, such as tracking and distributing rewards points, coupons, or other loyalty program benefits. It can also be used to verify customer identities, prevent fraud, and improve the efficiency of supply chain management. Another potential application of blockchain technology in the travel industry is customer identity management, allowing for creation of secure and decentralized systems for storing and sharing customer information, such as passport and visa details. Additionally, blockchain can be utilized for digital payments and transactions, luggage tracking, NFT rewards, tokenization, collaborations with crypto-artists, utility NFTs, and more.
What are some of the most exciting applications of blockchain in the travel and hospitality industry that you find intriguing?
How to Leverage Blockchain Technology in the Travel and Hospitality Industries?
Blockchain technologies have to take a backseat right now because, with 2023 as a rebuilding year filled with uncertainty, there are just so many other technology and organizational issues for hotels to tackle that take priority. What I emphasize is process, process, process.
That is, we all know blockchain is the future, so it's a matter of rearranging your organization to be more nimble by identifying the best vendors in this space then being able to rapidly deploy solutions with clear-and-present revenue prospects for when customer web3 adoption is more mainstream.
How are you meeting with vendors and documenting your thoughts on each? What use cases can you envision for blockchain and how are you itemizing all these ideas? Do you have a team or committee in place that's responsible for developing a blockchain implementation roadmap? How do you keep this team accountable with regular and measurable results? What's your plan for change management so that the new systems and practices are accepted by the organization and its culture?
These are all questions you must have answers know before you do anything, but one thing is certain: when demand for blockchain-based hotel experiences comes, it will come FAST.
I am particularly interested in the marketing and branding side of how blockchain can help the hospitality industry.
Blockchain users are a very tight, large, and financially powerful community of people from around the world, that usually does incredible amounts of travelling.
Accepting crypto payments is one way hospitality brands can show how forward-thinking they are. Another interesting way to do some marketing would be to provide perks for collectors of specific NFTs such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club or Crypto Punks, to incentivise those high net worth communities to become loyal to your brand.
With the rise of AirBnb, hotels can be perceived as old, boring and impersonal. Showing tech-savvy audiences that your brand gets them is a very powerful way to boost your brand, and there is no better community than blockchain to do that with.
Blockchain technology presents a "leapfrog moment" for the hospitality industry, allowing hotels to jump to the next stage of tech solutions and bypass intermediate stages. Hotels have been slow to adopt new technology, but blockchain offers the opportunity to create value by restructuring distribution, controlling pricing and increasing loyalty.
Tokenized distribution allows hotels to control who can access their inventory, while tokenized inventory can enable granular price control that is enforced at point of purchase. This means hotels can control the type of guests that walk in and reflect in ancillary revenue.
Tokenized stays can create a Proof-of-Stay, which is a verifiable online transaction that can identify each guest, their stay and their reviews. By eliminating the need for reputation management solutions, the savings can be huge.
The benefits of blockchain are not limited to customer-facing applications, as there are also massive RoI opportunities for distribution restructuring that can increase RevPAR.
By using blockchain, hotels can say goodbye to price parity and establish floor and ceiling prices for each tokenized room-night that can be enforced programmatically. Overall, blockchain technology offers significant savings and margin improvements for hoteliers who choose to adopt it.
Related article by Arul Prakash
Room Night Tokens (RNTs): The future of Guest verification.
NFC tags have been one of the novelties of Tech in the High-End Hotel industry for the past few years, placed in a keychain, Badge, Stay Card or anything else the hotel wishes to give the guest; it provided frictionless contactless entry into many access points as well as the guests room itself.
But its about time now with the rise of the Digital Era that hotel stays became a little more personalized.
RNTs are NTFs or Digital Assets that are minted for a guest upon the beginning of their stay and can be either burned, or made inadmissible but kept after the stay is over. Through these NFTs, Hotels can make personalized designs that emphasize their brand while giving the Guest something to remember from their stay; a souvenir. This same souvenir can act as a proof-of-loyalty in a Loyalty program wherein hotels can offer incentives based on how many RNTs a guest holds.
In this case, the old NFC access points become NFT verification points. And because the DATA of an NFT is made open and ever-present by Blockchain, Hotels can store and access data like never before.
Blockchain technology can be a game-changer for hospitality and travel businesses. By managing loyalty programs, tracking sourcing and inventory, and providing secure payments, blockchain can streamline operations and enhance the customer experience. This technology can help businesses stand out in a competitive industry while ensuring data privacy and security for customers. With its many applications, blockchain is a valuable tool for any hospitality or travel business looking to improve operations and customer satisfaction.
Related article by Vincent Somsen
The leadership of travel and hospitality businesses should prioritize their understanding of blockchain, and its ability to transform the industry. Here are examples of how blockchain will be used:
1. Secure Payments: Blockchain can be utilized to develop transparent and secure payment systems that do not require middlemen like banks or credit card firms. Transaction costs and consumer data security is enhanced.
2. Loyalty Programs: The ability for customers to accrue and redeem rewards by using blockchain builds more secure and transparent loyalty programs. Lowering costs of running the programs and increasing customer engagement.
3. Identity Verification: With blockchain brands can develop secure, decentralized identity verification systems eliminating the need for paper passports and traditional forms of identification, streamlining check-in and lessening the chance of identity theft.
4. Supply Chain Management: Hospitality operators will better track inventory and handle logistics by developing more open and effective supply chain management systems.
5. Smart Contracts: Blockchain allows for the creation of smart contracts, which automate procedures like booking and payment, obviating the need for middlemen and increasing efficiency.
Blockchain technology clearly has the ability to enhance the consumer experience, lower costs, and boost security and transparency in the travel and hospitality sectors.
Web3 can solve several problems in the hospitality, but here's one from which everything else will derive: account ownership.Today you have one account per platform (Booking, Airbnb...) and this account is owned by them.On top of the account, you have your listings and on top of the listings you have your reviews.If the account goes, the listings disappear and the reviews disappear.Thousands of reviews, earned in years of hard work, lose value the moment the platform shuts downs, shuts you down, or you decide to leave (maybe because they are too expensive)Web3 has a different approach: your account is in your computer (via a wallet), your listings are on top of your account and so are the reviews.You are in control.One platform shuts down?No problem, the same account/listings/reviews are NOT connected to it, but to you.Your account/listings/reviews are used by several platforms at the same time, and you give them permission to do so.Platforms only provide you with guests, not with the whole infrastructure, now part of the web itself.We are already playing with this in decentralized social networks, so, it's already technically a reality.
Hi reader, before getting started let's agree on something: travel and hospitality should be all about ensuring the end user feels special. Otherwise, apart from personal reasons, why would you pay for it?
Having drawn the customer-centricity line in the sand, the question remains: how the industry can leverage blockchain technologies (a potentially immutable, decentralised ledger) to achieve this end goal? Here are two use cases that excite me right now in the intersection of travel, hospitality and blockchain:
- Baggage tracking, with sensors reading and storing data of where your items are in real time in a public blockchain accessible from your phone can be a great step to increase transparency and visibility in what is a common pain point for travellers.
- Blockchain-based review systems. I personally choose destinations (shops, restaurants, etc) based on reviews. After a while, you realise how many of them are biased (often paid for). Verifying that only real customers leave feedback, and making sure all changes are reflected in a secure, immutable record, would greatly increase the added value of reviews.
There are obstacles though, so read the whole article for more!!
As often said, Blockchain technology presents a unique opportunity to revolutionise the travel and hospitality industry by improving security, transparency and efficiency. Firstly, the technology facilitates secure and transparent transactions, enabling seamless and secure bookings, payments and reservations. This increases customer trust and reduces fraudulent activities.
Secondly, blockchain technology can be leveraged to establish loyalty programmes that incentivise customers to use specific hotels or airlines and earn rewards that can be securely stored and transferred. Smart contracts can automate the management of rooms and travel assets, allowing customers to book and reserve without intermediaries and treat their reservation as an asset that can be traded or shared.
The writer's strong customer-centric view also highlights that blockchain technology can enable personalised interactions with customers through the use of Metaverse and NFT, offering a new level of personalisation and engagement. Finally, blockchain technology can improve supply chain management by enabling the traceability of goods and services, ensuring timely deliveries and efficient resource management.
In conclusion, the use of blockchain technology in the travel and hospitality industry can transform the industry by improving security, transparency, efficiency and personalised interactions with customers. However, for the first time in history, all these innovations are customer-centric.
Blockchain technology can benefit the travel and hospitality industry in various ways, particularly through the immutability of data and programmability of Smart Contracts.
Blockchain ensures transparency in verifying the validity of transactions, making it easier to manage supply chains, optimize processes, and promote initiatives linked to local culture.
The possibility offered by blockchain to support the creation and management of NFTs is a further opportunity for the travel and hospitality sector.
NFTs, or digital tokens that claim the availability of an asset, can be used, for instance, to tokenize travel coupons, or can be used to support experiential tourism and the "tokenization of emotions" (to use a term I coined and explained in my last book "All about NFTs", Hoepli pubblisher) to represent authentic value.
Furthermore, NFTs and blockchain can streamline certain processes also in business travel, such as notarizing expenses/travel contracts, controlling compliance with rules through smart contracts, and using fungible tokens for corporate payments.
Overall, blockchain technology can help the travel and hospitality industry lower barriers to entry for small operators, improve efficiency, and offer new experiences to travelers.
Related article by Roberto Garavaglia
The Travel & Hospitality industry is the only big one without a secondary market to resell the unused reservations.
Why you can resell a t-shirt, an iphone, a tv or a vacuum cleaner but you can't resell a hotel reservation? Because travel bookings are nominal contracts for service and not goods.
That's why making bookings resellable by transforming these into NFTs can actually represent a huge innovation and an important milestone for all the industry.
Indeed, there is a Win-Lose situation between Hotels and Travellers regarding the booking:
- Travellers want flexibility
- Hotels want immediate and guaranteed cashflow
But, this is not possible with the current rate system (Refundable vs Not Refundable).
That's why we can change the paradigm thanks to NFT and Blockchain to create a Win-Win situation: making the prepaid not refundalbe bookings resellable.
In this way, it is finally possible to create the first ever secondary market for travel bookings where people buy and sell reservations as they are used to with phisical goods on Ebay.
Blockchain technology provides secure, decentralized data recording, benefiting various industries, including ours. It can track loyalty points, verify guest identities, prevent fraud, and improve supply chain management.
Decentralized systems can also enhance room distribution, leading to better pricing and inventory management. Blockchain-based travel marketplaces, for example, enable guests to exchange or sell their reservations, benefiting accommodation providers on one side and offering more flexibility to guests on the other.
These marketplaces provide access to rooms otherwise unavailable in traditional markets, creating booking liquidity and allowing travelers to act as, de facto, revenue managers.
This could be the natural evolution of room distribution: if we look at ticketing, for example, most people no longer go to primary markets to book concerts or sports events; they go straight to third parties such as Ticketmaster. Decentralized marketplaces could follow a similar evolutionary path.
For instance, if a hotel sells a room for $200 and an event or concert comes up, the price for that night can increase. If a traveler who bought the room resells it for $500, it will provide value for both the hotel and the reseller, creating a virtuous circle of value.
Blockchain is one of the most innovative technologies of our time. Before exploring its applications, it's important to clarify what it is. At its core, a blockchain is a distributed ledger with a growing list of records (blocks) that are securely linked together via cryptographic hashes.
One of the key benefits of blockchain is its ability to define and verify ownership of digital assets. This is particularly useful in industries like travel and hospitality where proof of ownership and authenticity are crucial. For example, by leveraging smart contracts, these platforms can automate the process of booking and payment, reducing the need for intermediaries and increasing efficiency. Additionally, by using blockchain technology to verify identities and manage reputation, these platforms can enhance trust and safety for both hosts and guests.
It's worth noting that while blockchain technology has many potential benefits, it's important to consider how the broader crypto market will be regulated in the future. As with any emerging technology, there are risks and uncertainties that need to be carefully considered before implementing it in any industry. However, with its ability to provide secure and transparent record-keeping, blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize many industries, including travel and hospitality.