Guest Post: Authenticating the travel experience

Guest Post: Authenticating the travel experience

Blockchain could disrupt every step of the industry value chain, says Rohit Talwar of Fast Future

Can technology enhance trust and authenticity in the Travel Experience? In today’s travel industry, authenticity has become a powerful draw.

Travelers increasingly want authentic experiences – providing cultural insights while avoiding mass travel packages. Authenticity embraces honest advertising and customer experience, factors that industry providers have total control over.

Now, there is a high-tech disruptor emerging that could help travel industry businesses offer greater authenticity and share benefits with customers in numerous ways: blockchain.

Blockchain is the transaction tracking platform for Bitcoin – the leading digital cryptocurrency. Blockchain is a secure public ledger that that can capture and encode all transactions in any given currency, and a range of other types of information such as traveller details.

Globally, numerous cryptocurrencies are available, each with its own blockchain. In future, some or all nations may have their own digital currency. However, the borderless cryptocurrency concept rather defies notions of nation-states, sovereign currencies and centralized banks.

Imagine travellers unburdened by exchange rates or bank fees and providers accepting payment from anyone with a digital wallet. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies embody a rebellion against intermediaries like banks and credit card companies.

The industry is increasingly basing growth strategies on personalisation – loyalty schemes and targeted marketing programmes rely on knowing the individual’s identity.

However, blockchain protects personal identity, anonymising users, enforcing secure validation, and making identity theft impossible. Whilst immigration authorities would still need proof of identity, the rest of the industry value chain might only know of you as authorised traveller #6759704.

Blockchain customer validation could diminish queues and wait times. Over time, travellers could regain a feeling of anonymity and freedom, rather than one of being surveilled, tracked and “owned”.

If we can link the human in front of us to their unique blockchain profile (possibly through biometrics), all other ID checks become irrelevant. If we choose, our blockchain personal identities could contain more than just passport information – preferences could be shared during the trips so every service can be uniquely tailored without ever knowing our name unless we provide it.

For providers, the consequences of a cyberattack are greatly diminished as the underlying customer data is anonymised and secure.

Blockchain is poised to have a potentially dramatic impact on travel in the next 5-10 years.  By mainstreaming alternative currencies, securing irrefutable identities, reducing transaction costs and challenging current marketing thinking – blockchain could disrupt every step of the industry value chain.

Indeed, blockchain, coupled with other exponentially accelerating technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, hyperconnectivity, and the internet of things, could transform society.

The challenge for business leaders is to ensure that their organisation has deep and widespread understanding of the nature of these new technologies and the previously unimaginable travel concepts, service offerings, business models, operational challenges, and strategic options they could enable. Within twelve months we’ll be bored of talking about the need for mindset change – best to get a head start.

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