What is Blockchain and How Does it Impact the Travel Industry?

Guest post by Fox Chief Information Officer Sam Hilgendorf 

While attending SAP Concur Fusion 2019, a session that stood out to me was around Blockchain and its potential impact to the travel ecosystem. Too often, Blockchain is solely tied to cryptocurrencies. But Blockchain is not Bitcoin. Blockchain is the distributed public ledger technology that powers and secures Bitcoin transactions between participating parties.

This public, secured, digital ledger is where the power and potential disruption for the travel industry lies. Consider a typical travel itinerary: You have an airline seat, ground transportation and lodging. Over the course of this itinerary, you have information and possessions transferring across multiple companies. Today, there are multiple levels of middlemen who must manage these transactions to completion. Within Blockchain technology, suppliers and consumers have the potential to connect directly, without needing distributors, transaction management, etc.

Imagine buying and selling a house. In today’s world, you need lawyers, title companies, insurance providers, etc. just to transact the purchase. Now imagine if the buyer had access to the entire history of this house starting with build, including all transactions involving the maintenance of the house from all previous owners, all on this secure and unalterable digital ledger. No more deeds, no more proof of this or that going into a purchase. It’s all part of the blockchain from the time the house was built.

This can all be applied to the travel industry. The supply chain of hotel room availability, an individual seat on a plane or a car rental may one day all be streamlined to where the supplier and the consumer are the only two parties ever needed to transact those purchases at scale, without the need of all the intermediaries that exist today. As a travel partner, this is scary, but also creates an opportunity to provide a higher level of service in areas that we haven’t even thought of today, as so much of our time and value today is within managing transactions.

Blockchain is still several years away from truly making an impact, and there are still a lot of dominos that must fall into place for it to really disrupt the travel industry. But, it is something myself and our technology organization here at Fox are watching closely and look forward to using.

Interested in how Fox uses technology to elevate other areas of travel, read more here.

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