Is Blockchain the new disruptor in our industry?
As hoteliers, we are constantly battling with the OTA’s and 15 years after the first explosion of Online Travel Agents, we are still giving them too much availability; not managing pricing and crying into our cheque books each month when there are commission bills to pay… But what will the next two years bring? Well the experts are predicting that Blockchain technology will rise and the OTA’s will become less and less dominant.
So what is Blockchain?
Well if you Google it you will find the following –
But what is blockchain? In essence, it is a tool for maintaining transparent and distributed ledgers that can verify transactions (including financial ones) with minimal third party involvement. Blockchain is distributed in the sense that the ledger is not held in a central location but rather spread across a network of computers. And it is transparent in the sense that every transaction is made public for all to see.
Blockchain’s claim to fame is that it solves the problem of trust. If Person A wants to send money to Person B, how do we know that Person A has the necessary funds? Typically, we would need a third party, say a bank, to verify the exchange. But the advantage of blockchain is that it stores an indelible ledger of all previous transactions in a string of ‘blocks’, meaning we know who owns what and who can send what to whom. The Economist describes it as “the great chain of being sure about things”.
And what does this mean for the hospitality industry? Well the goal for Blockchain is to ‘cut out the middle man’ and would allow customers to buy directly from us as hoteliers. This new platform would allow direct communication and no commission fees!
Companies such as:
Trippki – https://trippki.com – are already active. Trippki reward travellers who leave positive reviews or who recommend a friend with a ‘token’ that can be redeemed at the hotel or exchanged for cash.
Lockchain – https://lockchain.co – already provide a platform where customers can book directly with hotels and cut out the ‘middle’ OTA – so win/win for everyone!
Pally – https://www.pally.co is another up and coming technology built around Blockchain. Forget the touristy guides and TripAdvisor, Pally not only allows you to get travel tips from locals but also provides a peer-to-peer platform making responses and communication instant and seamless.
However, the most interesting for me is Travelchain https://travelchain.io. Travelchain is a de-centralised data sharing platform where users are incentivised to share their travel preferences with hospitality companies. Imagine if you knew that a traveller was arriving from Spain and liked boutique hotels with a spa and loved Italian food and red wine. How powerful is that information? Imagine the offers and incentives you could push that specific guest on a one-to-one basis! The amount of information shared is up to the guest, so this technology feels to me less disruptive but how powerful would that be for both guest and hospitality provider? Very!
We have all learnt in 2017, that the most important thing that we can do is to get to know our customers – get personal… and when you do, this means you can provide a unique and memorable experience. The OTA’s do not allow us to do that, Blockchain technology does.
There is of course a long way to go, I don’t doubt that. But my advice is to watch this space – this technology is coming and it could be the first great disruptor since Air BnB…
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