Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Business

Travelport and IBM announce deeper collaboration on blockchain and ‘Watson’ AI

Travelport has announced an expansion of a partnership with technology giant IBM which will help it drive innovations to disrupt the travel industry.

The GDS and travel technology developer will use IBM Blockchain to streamline the validation, distribution and settlement of hotel content between Travelport, travel agencies and hotels.

In addition, Travelport will work with the IBM Watson Data Platform to personalize customer experiences with new tools and traveler recommendations.

Travelport said it work with IBM Blockchain will “streamline the hotel ecosystem providing choice through content, seamless booking and fulfillment experience is now crucial to traveler satisfaction”.

The firm added: “In recent years, travellers’ interest in unique experiences has grown and by implementing blockchain, both travelers and the hotel ecosystem will see notable benefits around the management and increased availability of so called ‘long tail content’ which, independent hoteliers may offer such as a walking tour or fishing expedition.

“Travel agencies, whether brick-and-mortar, online or corporate travel managers, have faced many challenges with ‘long tail content’ due to the diverse nature of travel services and products, the large number of travel suppliers and their limited technical capabilities.

“Processing everything across all these parts of the ecosystem can be complicated and the entire process to reach a completed transaction often takes time.

“Consequently, agencies are often unable to sell the content due to possible issues in traveler experience and the cost of processing.

“Likewise, the long tail content suppliers such as hoteliers are frustrated with their inability to get offers and wider experiences highlighted and packaged to travelers before they arrive at the hotel.”

Travelport and IBM believe using blockchain based distribution, long-tail content could be managed to make selling easier for travel agencies while enabling long-tail content suppliers to participate with minimal technology and budget investment.

Mike Croucher, Travelport chief architect, said: “One challenge facing our industry in the new digital world is that onboarding content from smaller hoteliers can take time.

“We know it’s what travelers want, as differentiated experiences are driving millennial and ‘bleisure’, travel habits, where travelers mix their business trips with leisure time.

“Using blockchain as a means to provide this experience is a value-adding deployment of this new technology.

“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.”

Elizabeth Pollock, industry client leader IBM travel and transportation, said: “The benefit of blockchain in travel is 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 since 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’s Watson Analytics Studio will help Travelport find new ways to generate enhanced travel experience from a deeper understanding of its data.

Travelport said it will develop new services to aid travel agencies, such as highlighting the best time to buy or providing personalized offer travel recommendations based on previously combined travel.

It added this will enable its travel agency customers to bring more value to the travelers they serve, while making it easier to buy the supplier content offered by Travelport.

Travelport said these two initiatives are just two of many partnerships between Travelport and IBM.

It is also working on back-end processing infrastructure and a tailored travel management tool for corporate customers, the IBM Travel Manager which was announced last month.

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