Blockchain technology has revolutionised the way transactions are being carried out across the world. To simplify this rather convoluted concept we could say that ‘block’ refers to blocks of digital information and ‘chain’ is the public database where this information is stored. The digital information stored consists of a variety of data including transaction details (such as date, time, amount paid etc), and encrypted identity details with unique identifying codes for each block.
One block can hold thousands of transactions. Once complete, a block is stored on a database that is publicly available. Because of the way it is designed, a blockchain is very hard to crack and therefore less prone to hacking. It is decentralised, which means that no single person has more control over this information than anyone else. So in order for a transaction to be accepted, it has to be verified by every single member that has access to that particular chain. This is currently changing the way we think about information storage and offers a promising solution to serious security breaches.
Applications to the travel industry
Planning and paying for a trip require the uploading of very sensitive, personal information on different online platforms such as booking agents, airline companies or accommodation providers. Information such as bank and passport details are regularly sent to different online companies and whether they like it or not, customers place a lot of trust in this process. Only last year, 5 million passport numbers were stolen from a top international hotel chain, further calling into question our current security paradigm. Blockchain could potentially make this process a lot safer and more transparent given that this information is stored in a way that makes it almost impossible to alter or hack into, so both financial transactions and the storage of information become simplified and more secure.
Security aside, the aspect of having a decentralised service means that there is no need for intermediaries. Although online booking agents offer customers to browse through thousands of hotels or flights, companies often pay at least 15% commission to be able to be advertised on such platforms. By taking out the middle man, service providers can minimise associated fees and connect directly with customers.
Identification and Tracking
Ever had the displeasure of arriving at your destination only to find out that your luggage didn’t? Cue endless hours of frustration, waiting to discover where your suitcase ended up in. Luggage often changes many hands especially during longer trips and Blockchain can make it easy and transparent to trace it at all times
Blockchain could also enhance customers’ identification process during travel, which is often a time-consuming and onerous process. This technology has the potential to drastically reduce waiting and standing times at airport queues.
It is yet to be seen whether Blockchain will take over and disrupt the travel industry as we currently know it. Judging by how other tech trends have already started making an impact, it may not be that long before we see it change the way we think about travel altogether.