The Australian-based online travel service Webjet provides customers with airline tickets, car rentals, and insurance packages. Recently the company announced a partnership with Microsoft that aims to provide a blockchain solution to improve the travel industry.
Webjet & Microsoft Build Blockchain Proof-of-Concept
The travel company Webjet revealed it has built a blockchain proof-of-concept (PoC) with the multinational technology company Microsoft. The companies claim the platform could “transform” the travel industry and hotel booking process. Webjet manages thousands of daily bookings, and hopes blockchain technology can add “efficiencies” to traditional methods.
Webjet and Microsoft say the PoC is the first of its kind in the travel industry. The firms say this technology has the potential to create a “new industry standard” and possibly inspire other companies. Moreover, they claim the project will streamline payments, remove counterparty risk, boost data security, and resolve certain friction points in the travel sector.
“Globally, hotel room wholesaling is a hundred-billion-dollar marketplace. Every day there are millions of transactions taking place and a single hotel stay could involve five or more transactions in the distribution chain,” explained Webjet managing director John Guscic.
“The marketplace can be prone to data discrepancies due to the volume of bookings passing through multiple systems. Between five and 10 percent of bookings can be impacted or, in other words, up to 10 billion dollars’ worth of transactions.”
The Three Stages of Webjet’s Blockchain Solution
The Webjet PoC was built using the Microsoft Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) Azure platform. It is being deployed in three stages. The first will be testing the PoC model between Sun hotels and Lots of Hotels brands. Secondly, Webjet will trial the blockchain’s automation and process thousands of transactions weekly. Following this, the third phase will be allowing Sun hotels and Lots of Hotels to test with other companies within the travel industry.
“By working with Webjet to use our digital platform, together we have created an innovative blockchain solution in Australia that has the potential to not only transform the travel industry but many other industries as well,” explained Microsoft Azure CTO, Mark Russinovich.
The blockchain PoC between the two companies utilizes smart contracts to resolve issues created by data mismatches. Developers have found the platform can “create shared, independent, trustworthy documents.” Additionally, the application is said to ensure customers satisfaction with significantly reduced reconciliation costs and errors. Guscic said the prototype eliminates transaction errors by using a protocol based on an “indisputable record of truth.”
Removing Intermediaries and Improving Travel Supply Chain Efficiency
Webjet has been working on the project for six months and believes the PoC can eliminate many errors in the travel booking supply chain. John Guscic told The Australian Financial Review a distributed ledger process could remove many of the unnecessary intermediaries who pass information. “The dirty secret of the global hotel industry is that roughly one in 25 transactions globally end up with breakage where someone provides a service and doesn’t get paid for it, which is an enormous number,” said Guscic.
Many industry sectors globally continue to test blockchain technology. The travel industry is just one of the many markets experimenting with these innovative protocols. Webjet believes, with Microsoft partnership, it can build a platform that evolves travel booking for the better.
Webjet said that as it tested the prototype it quickly realized the technology doesn’t just benefit the company. The application can also give perks to industry partners and improve the efficiency of the entire travel supply chain.
What do you think about Webjet and Microsoft building a travel industry-related blockchain? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Webjet websites, and Shutterstock.
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