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IBM Partners With Travelport to Bring Blockchain Innovation to Travel Industry

According to a recent press release from Travelport, the company is expanding the scope of its existing partnership with IBM to more thoroughly use blockchain technology to disrupt the travel industry.

In addition to clarification on the fruits of its previous partnership efforts with IBM, Travelport also described the main areas that it will be expanding into in the immediate future. Beth Pollock, an industry client leader from IBM Travel and Transportation sector, spoke with Distributed.com about some of the plans for this partnership moving forward.

The first of their major initiatives is to “implement IBM Blockchain to streamline the hotel ecosystem,” she said.

By incorporating blockchain efficiencies into Travelport’s online programs, the goal is to capture more of the coveted “long-tail content” that now makes up a significant portion of all travel bookings. When a search engine pulls up results for any query, the most generalized topics get the most hits by a considerable margin. However, as the queries become more and more specific, interest drops off into a flat rate for these specific searches and the bulk of all interest in the area is centered around an even distribution of niche content. In other words, very specialized content may form the tail end of all searches, but it is a very long tail indeed.

This is exactly where the specialities of blockchain technology come in. As the report detailed, many travel agencies of both the digital and brick-and-mortar varieties have had trouble adapting to this reliable source of revenue. Hoteliers have had no problem with actually supplying this long-tail content, offering a variety of special opportunities on top of the wide range of available destinations, yet the travel agencies themselves have found immense logistical problems with actually processing these transactions and marketing them to travelers. IBM’s blockchain can allow these providers to interact with the consumers more directly, cutting out the expensive work of a middleman.

“The work with Travelport around blockchain has been proved in concept and is now being developed into a minimal viable product that will be further tested across the travel ecosystem,” Pollock said. “Once that is tested successfully, Travelport would look to roll it out across their platform to help the distribution of all types of travel content.”

As for the second of the major initiatives, Travelport is looking to use IBM’s Watson Analytics Studio to pour over the immense travel data that it has accumulated over the years. Travelport hopes to use these sophisticated analytics to offer even more services to travel agencies, streamlining the consumer’s experience and ultimately increasing customer satisfaction.

The partnership between Travelport and IBM has been ongoing for several years, and Pollock believes that it shows no signs of slowing down.

“A further new application for blockchain is being explored with Travelport that provides transparency and accelerates hotel commission settlement process,” she explained. “The plan is to jointly take this to the IBM Garage before year-end and leverage the same methodology used to develop the long-tail use case.”

Based on the success of these current initiatives, IBM may go on to disrupt the travel industry in quite a radical fashion.


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