Travelport Follows Blockchain Trial Success with Expansion of IBM Collaboration

Travel commerce platform Travelport has deepened its partnership with IBM by moving to the next phase of using blockchain technology.

UK-based Travelport announced on Wednesday it was expanding its partnership with US tech giant IBM after the successful use of IBM Blockchain in a proof-of-concept (PoC) trial to automate validation, distribution, and settlement processes for hotel content between hotels, travel agencies, and its platform.

The two companies will continue their joint work by collaborating on technological innovations focused on the travel industry. In a second program under the collaboration, Travelport is using the IBM Watson Data Platform to customize user experience by applying new instruments and traveler recommendations.

In the first program, Travelport achieved success with the trial and is now moving to the next phase to improve the hotel experience. The current development is focused on traveler needs. In the past few years, more people have been looking for a special experience as they want to share the related content through social media channels. Blockchain can help travelers, hotels, and travel agencies improve the management of the so-called long-tail content, which is essential for increasing online visibility.

Travel agencies have found it challenging to handle settlements across multiple suppliers, and processing a full transaction often requires time. Sometimes, they cannot sell the long-tail content because of issues with the travel experience and the high price of processing. Meanwhile, content suppliers are dissatisfied with the limited potential for offering a unique experience to travelers prior to their arrival at the hotel.

Travelport and IBM concluded that blockchain could enable the content to be managed in a way providing travel agencies with flexibility and building confidence in the travel experience. The technology also allows long-tail content suppliers to become more active in the ecosystem.

Mike Croucher, Travelport's chief architect, commented:

“One challenge facing our industry in the new digital world is that onboarding content from smaller suppliers can be costly and take time. We know unique experiences are what modern travelers are looking for. Using blockchain to access these experiences is a value-adding deployment of this new technology.”

Croucher went on to explain:

“With IBM, we're removing barriers that limit travel choice.  We're putting the ability into the hands of the operator to upload bookings and work through contracts and administrative tasks within the blockchain network rather than manually managing and owning these tasks, which is normally the expensive part of transactions.”

Blockchain adoption might help Travelport improve its platform. The company operates a travel commerce ecosystem that offers travel and tourism-related solutions like distributions, technology, and payment. The platform connects global travel providers with consumers through a B2B marketplace.

Elizabeth Pollock, industry client leader at IBM Travel & Transportation, stated:

“The benefit of blockchain in travel is that it provides the ability to put a smart contract across a distributed ledger. By implementing a smart contract, settling payments within the network and so forth, the technology significantly lowers the processing time, because it manages diverse ledgers across multiple companies in a way that takes manual processing and other processing out. The other benefit here is that you are also adding transparency to the system across all parties in the travel network.”

IBM is one of the tech companies most active in promoting and providing distributed ledger technologies (DLTs). In March of this year, it said its blockchain solutions had been used by over 400 enterprises.