Amadeus is "developing live prototypes and cultivating a network of specialist partners" as it delves deeper into the potential of Blockchain in travel.
The comment comes from Katherine Grass, head of innovation and ventures for Amadeus, introducing a new Amadeus Innovation foresights paper called "Blockchain: harnessing its potential in travel".
The paper looks generically at the emergence of Blockchain, its unique characteristics and a beginners' guide to ICOs (initial coin offerings) before getting specific about potential use cases for the technology in travel.
- Making loyalty schemes more user-friendly
- Improving identity management in travel
- Improving baggage tracking
- Simplifying settlements in the travel value chain
The first two get the most column inches in the report, with mini case studies giving not only a context but also namechecking some businesses which are using Blockchain to disrupt the status quo.
Loyalty schemes are a recurring part of the business, serving many and varied purposes for enterprises, from hotel chains using their schemes to drive direct bookings and win back the customer from the OTAs (some of whom have their own loyalty scheme) to airlines using their frequent flier schemes to boost the balance sheet.
If Blockchain can make these schemes more user-friendly then the benefits for businesses will be enhanced. The Amadeus paper talks about how schemes might operate differently if built using Blockchain, and uses some of the initiatives coming out of San Francisco-based Loyyal to illustrate the potential.
Interoperability - the switching of points between schemes - is one area where Blockchain can make a difference and Loyyal is trialling this with a Middle East airline.
Amadeus also talks about real-time access and redemption of points :"Imagine landing from a long flight and having points credited to an app immediately that could then be used to pay for a ride sharing service from the airport," it suggests.
Loyyal is also testing how loyalty schemes running off Blockchain tech can encourage members to make smaller purchases - "micro-cost redemptions" - using their points. It argues that this is cost prohibitive using existing technology.
Tapping Blockchain to make loyalty schemes easier to use for customers while opening up the potential for more business partnerships between scheme owners could have an impact on the distribution landscape where Amadeus is active. The other use case which gets an accompanying case study is about how Blockchain can help individuals prove their identity by enabling people to store and share their own verified identity credentials in a secure, user-friendly app.
Palo Alto-based Civic
is referenced in the Amadeus paper. Civic is using Blockchain tech to build a platform which essentially connects companies with an app which contains all the individual's verified data. The individual uses his or her fingerprint to open their own app. The app then essentially becomes the identity documentation and can, theoretically, be used to get through security, check in to hotels and book travel - anywhere proof of ID is required.
The paper says:
"The technology could be used to provide key identity data simply and securely to online travel agents that want to know who you are before providing a tailored range of options. Civic envisions a ‘Book with Civic’ button that will be displayed on OTA sites..."
There is also a suggestion that the biometric capabilities of today's smartphones, when combined with the secure verification offered through Blockchain, could help "airports avoid the need to roll-out costly biometric scanning hardware."
Click here to access a page on Amadeus website which includes a summary of the report and a download link, as well as an introductory video to all things Blockchain.
Related reading from tnooz:
Lufthansa invests in blockchain via partnership with Winding Tree (Oct17)
The emperor’s new chains – seeing through the Blockchain hype (Aug17)
TUI’s Blockchain initiative blips IBM’s radar (Aug17)
Image by BigStock.