Travelport and IBM working to disrupt travel industry with new innovations

Blockchain to bring increased hotel options, and IBM Watson to fuel new customer experiences

ATLANTA and ARMONK, N.Y., Oct. 24, 2018 /PRNewswire

Travelport, a leading travel commerce platform today announced it is expanding its longstanding partnership with IBM to further develop innovations designed to disrupt the travel industry. Travelport has completed a proof of concept to streamline the validation, distribution and settlement of hotel content between its own platform, travel agencies and hotels, through IBM Blockchain. Separately, Travelport is turning to the IBM Watson Data Platform to personalize customer experiences with new tools and traveller recommendations.

In the first of two programs, Travelport is moving into the next phase of development using IBM Blockchain to streamline the hotel and in-trip experience ecosystem. Providing choices through content, seamless booking and fulfilment experience is crucial to traveller satisfaction.  In recent years, travelers' interest in unique experiences, as they look for content to share on social media platforms, has grown. Through blockchain, travellers, experience providers and hotels can see notable benefits around the management and increased availability of so called 'long tail content'.

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 settlements across a diverse range of suppliers 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 issues in traveller experience and the cost of processing.  Likewise, those content suppliers are frustrated with limited capability in providing offers and experiences to travellers before they arrive at the hotel.

Together, Travelport and IBM determined that by using blockchain, content could be managed to provide travel agencies confidence in the travel experience and ease of sale, while also enabling long-tail content suppliers to participate efficiently.

"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. 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," said Mike Croucher, Travelport's Chief Architect.

"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," said Elizabeth Pollock, Industry Client Leader IBM Travel & Transportation. 

In a second initiative, Travelport and IBM are working together to generate enhanced travel experiences by leveraging Travelport's vast travel data.  By applying IBM's Watson Analytics Studio, Travelport will develop new services, such as highlighting the best time to buy or providing personalized offer recommendations 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.

These initiatives are just two of many partnerships between Travelport and IBM. The two companies regularly push the boundaries to understand how new technologies can truly add value for each part of the travel industry and, most importantly, tomorrow's travellers.

Source: IBM

Illustration Photo: Hotel Alpha-Palmiers Reception (credits: fhotels / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

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