Web3 in Travel: The Implications for Businesses and Travelers
Web3 and its associated technologies, like blockchain, may be considered groundbreaking for myriad reasons. However, one thing that has led to their widespread adoption is their capability to revolutionize various aspects of our day-to-day life, including how we travel.
Although the travel industry is dominated by large business entities operating in a centralized way, travel experiences can become far more secure and traveler-friendly with the integration of web3. Why so? Because blockchain technology is at the heart of the web3 revolution. And since blockchain is a shared, distributed and encrypted digital ledger that serves as an irreversible and incorruptible public database of stored information, it can bring transparency, safety and accountability to several critical touchpoints.
Although web3 in travel shows promise for businesses, governments and travelers alike, consumers will likely be the biggest beneficiaries as web3 in travel ensures streamlined and seamless travel experiences with a higher degree of autonomy for travelers. Before we dive deeper into the discussion around web3 in travel, let us touch upon the basics, starting with the meaning of web3.
- What is web3?
- Implications of web3 for the travel industry
- What aspects of travel are most impacted by the web3 movement?
- Two most important benefits of web3 in travel
What is web3?
Web3 is the most recent iteration of the world wide web, characterized by decentralization. As mentioned above, web3 obtains the quality of decentralization based on blockchain technology.
Web3 is still evolving; thus, no web3 definition that has so far been put forward can be considered complete. However, one thing that needs no further clarity is that web3 lays the groundwork for a truly decentralized world, where nothing is under the top-down oversight of centralized entities.
Blockchain-based applications and services are slowly gaining steam, with a lot of money being pumped into their development. Web3 in travel also uses machine learning, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to create more adaptive and intelligent applications. Not much surprisingly, travel and tourism is among the industries that have benefited the most from the web3 movement.
Now that we have understood the concept of web3 let us see how it has helped the travel industry to evolve.
Implications of web3 for the travel industry
Stability and security are two of the most important benefits web3 in travel offers. A blockchain’s decentralized nature implies that transactions recorded are always traceable; hence, information cannot be lost or deleted accidentally.
The travel industry relies heavily on information exchange between companies. Travel agents must pass on customer information to hotels and flight companies. Personal belongings of travelers are also often shared between companies and are tracked. Any hindrance in the flow of such information can hamper travel experiences significantly. Cases of information loss or incorrect information being passed can worsen the situation. When it comes to web3 in travel, blockchain technology helps information flow to take place seamlessly. Since the entire network of nodes responsible for running a blockchain shares responsibility for data storage, accessing and storing passenger data becomes a hundredfold easier when it is done in a decentralized way.
Financial transactions are also an essential part of web3 in travel. Blockchain technology can not just simplify but also secure payments. This is especially true for overseas transactions. Blockchain can potentially increase trust between all parties involved- from airline companies and travel agencies to hospitality businesses and travelers.
What aspects of travel are most impacted by the web3 movement?
With more people willing to splurge on traveling, travel prices are shooting up. The prices are rising primarily because vacationers and tourists try to seize every available opportunity in the travel space. This has led to people paying more for their vacation than they would want to and even missing the opportunity to travel for being unable to afford the trip.
This sudden rise in prices has become a subject of worry for travelers. Thankfully, blockchain technology may be of help here. Blockchain-based travel booking platforms are easy to use and bring greater transparency and security to the table. BitBook is one of the many booking platforms that operate in the blockchain space. However, what sets it apart from its contemporaries is that it allows users to make travel reservations and earn cryptos for doing so.
It’s worth noting that such blockchain-based travel booking platforms allow you to make reservations for hotels, vacation rentals, car rentals, airlines and the like.
Web3 in travel also provides startups and scale-ups a great opportunity to compete in a market dominated by central entities.
Unfortunately, hotels are compelled to pay huge commissions on bookings and payment processing under the current centralized system. This makes it seemingly impossible for startups to compete in the industry.
While the travel industry may not have had much choice before, web3 in travel can prove revolutionary in addressing this obvious gap.
But how are decentralized applications operating in the domain of web3 in travel different from routine applications? Although the front-end experience is very familiar for both guests and hosts, the real difference lies in the transparency and control at the back end enabled by smart contracts created on a blockchain.
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Identity verification and management
Blockchain-based identity verification and management are most useful at airports. Passengers must use multiple centralized systems when they move through an airport.
A decentralized identity management solution can make it easier for passengers to travel through airports by creating a mesh of “trust networks” using blockchain technology. These trust networks do share or consume passenger identity information, but they also ensure data privacy at the highest level.
Passenger identity information flows through these networks using Decentralized Identifiers (DID)-based proofs. Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) are a unique type of identifier that enable verifiable, decentralized digital identity. They allow only the necessary information to be revealed to specific systems and users.
What are the networks involved in such a DID-based solution?
- Permissioned trust network of airports- This network concerns trusted and known entities of an airport.
- Permissioned trust network for airport security services- It applies across all the airports present in a country.
- Permissioned trust network for passengers & government bodies- This network is for passport issuance, visa issuance etc.
- Permissioned trust network for ground handling services- Concerns the service providers in an airport.
- Permissioned IOT network- This network is for all the devices within an airport.
- Permissioned trust network for retailers and financial services- Concerns all providers operating at an airport.
- Permissioned trust network for customs department- It applies across all the airports present in a country.
All trust networks other than the permissioned trust network for passengers and government bodies issue proofs as decentralized identifiers with respect to each stage of the passenger’s movement within the airport. The information is recorded into a blockchain ledger using DID documents.
To confirm their identity and be eligible to fly from the airport on a particular flight, the passenger must provide their DID document.
The blockchain-backed decentralized identity management solution offers the following benefits-
- Data immutability
- It’s a proof-based system, and hence, trackable
This decentralized solution allows passengers to move seamlessly through different airport stages without worrying about their privacy. The solution is built on the trust networks that exist between and within airports. These interim DIDs remain valid only for the duration of the travel. Such a solution can increase airport operational efficiency and reduce wait times for passengers. In the future, airports might see an increase in the adoption of blockchain technology as a result of the government’s regulations on the safe exchange of passenger information and standards.
Blockchain-based loyalty reward programs are a great solution for both businesses and customers. While businesses can use them to lower loyalty program costs and boost loyal customer behavior, customers can have faster reconciliation and more lucrative earn-and-burn opportunities.
Rewards programs are a strategic investment that most businesses want to capitalize on. However, customer loyalty and engagement programs have the potential to make or break companies. Although they are growing rapidly and being widely adopted, they have certain loopholes, such as the lack of a uniform management system. As a result, members don’t remain active in such programs.
With blockchain technology, it is possible to help customers realize the full potential of loyalty programs. Blockchain technology can be used to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase brand loyalty in any organization, from banks to airlines.
Here are some of the most important benefits of blockchain backed-loyalty rewards programs-
1. Cost reduction
While blockchain has upfront costs, the savings you make on system management, transactional operations, and customer acquisition are significant. With smart contracts enabling secure, traceable, and transparent transactions, a blockchain-based loyalty reward program can reduce system management costs considerably for businesses across industry verticals.
2. Creating a frictionless system
Accessing and managing rewards with a blockchain-based loyalty reward program is a breeze. Customers can have their rewards credited to the same crypto wallet they will use to redeem rewards for their hotel stays. Blockchain’s trustless and decentralized technology makes loyalty reward programs highly streamlined and efficient.
3. It involves a near real-time process
Blockchain allows transactions to be recorded and accessed in real time by multiple parties. This helps loyalty reward program providers to credit points speedily.
A secure environment
Blockchain is a distributed, immutable digital database that records transactions efficiently. It enables easy tracking of transactions and renders them irreversible. Resultantly, the scope of double spending, fraud, or any other manipulation of transactions gets eliminated.
Blockchain integration can improve travel in many ways but primarily facilitates secure and traceable payments. In today’s world, booking flight tickets is not just easy but also fast. The process can be further simplified by using blockchain technology. Winding Tree, a blockchain-based distribution platform for the travel industry, facilitates booking hotel and flight tickets at lower transaction costs. Airline companies like Air New Zealand have also used blockchain technology to simplify their ticket-selling process, resulting in fast and secure payments, transactions and checkout.
DeFi payments eliminate the need to use third-party payment apps for digital payments, as payments can be made directly between the parties involved. Blockchain technology also has the potential to make payment gateway companies such as Visa and MasterCard obsolete. This powerful technology enables you to walk directly into an airport and board a flight without waiting in long queues for verification and other formalities. Blockchain-based payments reduce the time it takes to complete payments.
Governments can also use blockchain technology to offer a faster and more secure payment experience to those who use public transport. Blockchain, teamed with AI and other advanced technologies, can eliminate the need for physical tickets for bus, rail and other transport services. A single database can be used to track a user’s journey across all modes of transport. Even for customers, a single identification and payment method will allow access across transport services.
Blockchain is also useful in eliminating the need to have physical documents in travel-related processes. Blockchain replaces physical documentation with digital contracts, also known as smart contracts. Digital contracts are trackable, which means they prove to be handy in the event of a dispute. The consumer can view a digital copy of the agreement to understand its terms and conditions thoroughly.
Two most important benefits of web3 in travel
No agent fees or involvement of third-party intermediaries
Since blockchain runs on a peer-to-peer network, blockchain-based travel solutions and services eliminate the need for intermediaries or middlemen. Many travel companies, therefore, use blockchain technology to capitalize on this unique attribute. For instance, S7 Airlines, a Russian airline company, uses blockchain technology to issue and sell tickets. The private blockchain that it uses runs on Ethereum and uses smart contracts to exchange information between parties. This has sped up the settlement process between agents, airlines, and passengers from 14 days to only 23 seconds. The platform is actively being used, and the value of monthly transactions through its host blockchain is in the millions. Since no third party is involved, there are no agent fees and commissions payable.
Insurance against flight delays and overbooking
Many airlines now use blockchain technology to automate the compensation payment process for passengers who have either been denied seats due to overbooking or whose flights are delayed. French insurance company, AXA, uses blockchain technology to offer insurance covers for flight delays. The process of compensation payment involves smart contracts. Thus, when a customer’s flight gets delayed by a certain amount of time, the compensation automatically gets paid. Compensating for the denial of a seat due to overbooking is also a practice followed by many popular airlines, such as United Airlines.
Blockchain technology has attracted a lot of attention from across industry verticals. As far as the travel industry is concerned, blockchain manifests in amazing ways. Significant amounts of money are also being pumped into new ventures catering to users’ and businesses’ needs pertaining to web3 in travel.
There is no denying that traveling is overwhelming for passengers, both physically and mentally. Inefficiencies in administrative workflows can add extra stress to people’s travel experiences. Blockchain technology can significantly improve the customer experience by recording every transaction entry on the blockchain for improved security, transparency and traceability of information. This reduces inefficiencies considerably. Different travel businesses, from airlines to hotels, are also using blockchain’s disruptive technology to improve their operational and service capabilities. And what does all this translate to? Improved efficiencies for businesses and better travel experiences for customers.
If you want to build a web3 product for your travel business, contact LeewayHertz today. Our expert developers can turn your dream project into reality.
Akash’s ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s.
Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.
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