Researchers at Smith & Crown reported that about $1.8 billion was invested in blockchain startups in 2017 as the technology continues to be deployed to solve real world problems. At the last count, there are more than 1,380 blockchain companies in the post ICO cryptocurrency market and there are countless more in the pre-ICO stage.
The unprecedented level of growth being recorded in the cryptocurrency industry is a testament to the fact that blockchain is the new wild west of investments. However, there’s no denying that the cryptocurrency market is filled with many “shitcoins” which have nothing to offer investors other than a sprinkling of “blockchain” in their whitepapers and one pagers.
However, to invest in blockchain technology successfully, you need to look for blockchain startups that are actually leveraging blockchain to solve real world problems. The travel industry is one of such industries that is at the twilight of massive disruptions powered by blockchain. For one, the travel and tourism industry delivered a $7.6 trillion contribution to the global GDP in 2016 and it directly/indirectly accounts for 1 in every 10 jobs globally.
Nonetheless, travelers tend to approach the travel industry with an air of mistrust, and a Nielson study revealed that 82% of travelers prefer recommendations from someone they know than from travel businesses. This piece provides insight into three blockchain companies bent on bringing disruption to the travel industry.
Loyyal is revolutionizing loyalty programs
The travel and tourism industry thrives on loyalty – frequent flier miles, gift cards, complimentary breakfast, concierge, and airport lounges are some of the perks that businesses in the travel industryuse to reward their customers. The problem however with the current loyalty system is the complexity and high costs of setting up procedures and settlement process. The worst part is that it is practically impossible to transfer reward points between airlines or hotels. When you do get to transfer points between airlines of the same alliance, you’ll be required to make a redundant phone call and wait for as much as six weeks for the points to be moved.
Loyyal wants to leverage the distributed nature of blockchain technology to improve interoperability among business operating in the airline industry. With Loyyal’s system, travelers will find it easy to access and transfer travel points in real time. In a use case scenario, you can transfer the points from your airline trip into an Uber app to book a ride as soon as you clear customs at the airport. You can use the loyalty points from your hotel to buy coffee when you walk through town.
Cool Cousin is bridging the information gap
Cool Cousin, a VC-backed blockchain startup founded in 2016 is trying to disrupt the travel industry by upending the idea of a travel agency. When people want to travel, they usually search for travel information online or contact travel agencies for information. Many travel agencies are still stuck in the past, their processes are outdated and the information that they offer doesn’t often align with the interests of the traveler.
When searching for travel information online, travelers have to deal with an information overload – and the worst part of the information overload is that most of it contains irrelevant, biased, sentimental, and marketing information. Hence, travelers spend a great deal of time and energy sifting through the chaos to find information that could actually improve their traveling experience.
Cool Cousin is trying to solve the information overload problem by connecting travelers with a network of local guides “Cousins” who can provide reliable travel information on things that interest you. Launched in 2016, Cool Cousin now boats more than 2000 locals “Cousins” in more than 65 cities and more than 500,000 travelers have used the platform to connect with people in their destination cities in order to make informed traveling decisions.
Civic is solving the identity verification problem
Civic is building on the immutability of blockchain records to help travelers prove and verify their identity when they travel. Providing documentation that can be used to verify your identity is a constant feature in the modern traveling experience. However, provide proof of identity with the traditional paper documentation is often frustrating – you’ll need to bring out your passports and boarding passes multiple times on both legs of your journey.
Civic is solving the identity verification problem through a user-friendly app on which you can store and share your verified identity credentials. With Civic, you get a measure of control over who can access your identity data, and you choose which companies or governments have access to your ID. The decentralization that blockchain brings to the ID verification industry also makes it easy to ‘unlock’ identity verification information from other sources.
For the travel industry, Civic could change the entire narrative by making the travel experience more seamless and less stressful. Online travel agents will only require your Civic ID number to pull up your ID information they need to populate the necessary forms. At the airports, you can add your Civic QR code to your bag to improve baggage tracking and security. You can also use the Civic QR code to check into your hotel ahead of time so that you just head straight into your room on arrival.