Travel commerce platform Travelport and IBM are developing two new initiatives that separately apply IBM’s blockchain and Watson Analytic technologies.

Travelport will employ IBM Watson’s data platform to personalise customer experiences with new tools and traveler recommendations. This initiative involves the companies working together to generate enhanced travel experiences by leveraging Travelport’s large travel data set.

For instance, it will use IBM’s Watson Analytics to deliver services that highlight the best time to buy and which provide personalised offers based on previously combined travel data.  These will enable travel agency subscribers to bring more value to the travellers they serve while making it easier to access the vast range of travel supplier content Travelport offers.

Separately, Travelport also announced an initiative based on IBM Blockchain to streamline the validation, distribution and settlement of hotel content between its platform, travel agencies and hotels.

By using IBM Blockchain to create smart contracts between the hotel and in-trip experience ecosystem, the company said travellers, experience providers, and hotels would see significant benefits around the management and increased availability of so-called ‘long tail content’.

This blockchain initiative is a response to two trends. Firstly, travellers are seeking unique experiences. Yet agents still face the challenges of that ‘long tail content’ due to the diversity of travel services and products, a large number of suppliers and their limited technical capabilities.

Secondly, Travelport said processing settlements across a diverse range of suppliers could be complicated and the process to reach a completed transaction often takes time. Consequently, agencies are often unable to sell the content due to issues in traveler experience and the cost of processing.  On the other side of the transaction, content suppliers become frustrated with the limited capability in providing offers and experiences to travellers before they arrive at the hotel.

Smart contracts

By implementing a blockchain-enabled smart contract, settling payments within the network would significantly lower processing time between multiple companies and also increase transparency for all parties in the travel network, the two companies believe. This initiative will enable long-tail content suppliers to provide offers to travellers more effectively, and also give travel agencies confidence in the travel experience and ease of sale.

Travelport’s chief architect, Mike Croucher, said a critical digital challenge for the travel industry is the costly and time-consuming on-boarding of content from smaller suppliers.

“We know unique experiences are what modern travellers are looking for. With IBM, we’re removing barriers that limit travel choice. Using blockchain to access these experiences is a value-adding deployment of this new technology.

“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,” Croucher said.

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