By James Lawrence - Knowledge - 1 month ago

The Travelling Blockchain: Welcome Challenge to Georgia, Travelport, and IBM

The Travelling Blockchain: Welcome Challenge to Georgia, Travelport, and IBM

From yesterday, October 23 until Friday, October 26, Tbilisi is hosting Welcome Challenge, an international forum for innovations in the hospitality and tourism industries. Hosting the event is part of the state initiative ‘Check in Georgia’, a project to promote and support events throughout Georgia and in turn increase domestic and international tourism.

Welcome Challenge brings together more than 20 of the most innovative startups, industry leaders, representatives of major international organizations and financial companies looking for new investment opportunities. Taken from the Welcome Challenge website, the forum is looking for the “most inventive ways to impact and disrupt the business status quo.”

Welcome Challenge has come to the right place, it was only three weeks ago that the winning team of the NEO Black Sea Hackathon proposed a tokenized tourism platform. Talk about an inventive way to impact and disrupt the status quo.

The Georgian National Token or GNT would be issued by the government to incentivize Georgian tourism, simultaneously encouraging tourists to travel in Georgia and giving the government relevant data to improve their tourist sites and services. The winning Birtvi team said they were ready to continue developing the project and make it a reality.

Blockchain has long been prophesied to be slapped onto the $7 TRILLION USD (yes trillion with a ‘T’) travel industry and many have tried, but none have stuck well enough to stand out as a market leader, but that may soon be changing.

A post has been jointly released today, October 24, from tech giant IBM and Travelport, a company that provides technological, supply chain and other solutions for the travel and tourism industry. The press release, IBM, Travelport Build Future of Travel Planning on Blockchain details plans of ‘long tail content’, simply put, a supply chain managed via blockchain for a traveler’s every need.

The post suggests that the concept of ‘long tail content’, has for the longest time, been unattainable, due to the scale of “managing the complexity of large numbers of small-scale suppliers” to achieve a “seamless, single-transaction booking experience” that Travelport purports customers want. This no longer remains a barrier as this data “could be efficiently managed using blockchain, with our technology partner, IBM.”

As disillusioning as it sounds, research referenced in the press release, has shown that Millennials (those currently aged 22 to 37) plan to spend 35-days each year traveling and 40% prioritize ‘Instagramability’ when choosing a destination. ‘Instagramability’ could mean any number of things, but Travelport suggest travel companies need to provide “rich, differentiated and immersive experiences which garner those all-important likes across social media.”

As IBM has previously shown with their Blockchain Platform, they are able to simultaneously break down barriers while simultaneously accelerating processing times in a number of business use cases. Travelport proposes the proof-of-concept study they conducted with IBM earlier this year, will allow tourism industry facilitators to manage unique and jam-packed travel itineraries across multiple companies within the industry, quickly and at a greatly reduced price than traditional manual procedures. Also mentioned is distributed ledger technologies inherent transparency, achieving greater levels of trust in the services travelers are purchasing.

Long tail content is the latest innovation in IBM and Travelport’s partnership, back in August IBM announced the two would launch an “industry-first AI travel platform to intelligently manage corporate travel spend.” The project utilizes IBM Watson’s famous capabilities (it won Jeopardy 2011 remember?) to “unlock previously unavailable data insights” supplied by Travelport. The partners expect that the project will fundamentally change how companies manage and optimize their travel programs, according to the release, global business travel accounts for around $1.2 trillion annually.

IBM’s Travel & Transportation Industry Client Lead, Elizabeth Pollock told Forbes, “From my perspective, the ability to mine and leverage that data, to help make better, informed business decisions, will ultimately impact the performance of a company. That is the opportunity we see here, which helps drive new business models and revenue streams, creating greater value for shareholders.”

According to their more recent, blockchain press release, the next step for IBM and Travelport is to the release of a minimum viable product (MVP), which they say is already underway. The pair also shared their plans to incorporate a wider range of stakeholders and in turn encourage marketwide adoption of their project and fight challenges that plague the travel industry such as delays, lost reservations and general inconvenience. “Using blockchain to provide this experience is a value-adding deployment of this new technology. With IBM, we’re [Travelport] removing barriers that limit travel choice, to deliver the world of experiences we know today’s travelers want.”