While Blockchain is a relatively new technology, it has the potential to disrupt the way the businesses were traditionally done. It has already been used across various verticals and has enabled new way of working and new use cases. In this paper, we review the potential of Blockchain to disrupt the travel industry.
Opportunities in Travel Industry for Blockchain intervention
Few challenges in current business processes where Blockchain can help include:
Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) planning and scheduling remains a challenge. Lack of real-time data hinders efficient planning. Airlines must spend enormous money to make the process as efficient as possible.
Filing and settling of claims in case of flight delays is another challenge. Many a time, passenger either don’t know their rights or don’t get time to file a claim and thus loose out of claims that were their right.
In today’s world there are multiple loyalty programs which are based on frequent flyer points. However, each of these programs work in their own partner ecosystem; which leads to lack of transferability and thus frustration and low usage of these loyalty programs.
While there are many more use cases where Blockchain and related technologies can add-value, the above three use cases represent diverse areas were Blockchain can help. We shall focus on these use cases for rest of this paper.
Enablement of Travel use cases through Blockchain
Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul
Maintenance of an aircraft is a complex process. All activities of the aircraft, e.g., miles flown, number of take-offs/landings, conditions in which the aircraft operated, operating condition of parts (e.g., operating temperature of engine), significant events during flight and log of when each part or assembly was replaced, its batch number etc. must be tracked. Based upon all this data, the aircraft would be called for scheduled maintenance & repairs or is scheduled for overhaul.
Multiple parties must contribute this data, e.g., air traffic control provides data on lands/take-offs, airlines provide data on miles flown, condition of flight, significant events etc. and OEM provides data from sensors, e.g. operating condition of engine & also operating life of parts based upon their batch etc. All this data must be collated on a single platform and analyzed for MRO decisions.
A blockchain based decentralized platform would enable all parties to use single platform to upload their data and based upon permissions, analyze the data, and take decisions. E.g., the engine OEM can use this data to determine maintenance schedule for the engine; while MRO team would use the data to call the aircraft for repairs and maintenance and arrange for parts/assemblies required to be replaced.
By having data of multiple aircrafts and multiple airlines collated on single platform, it is possible to analyze data across the universe, e.g., average life of a part that belongs to a particular batch. This information can alter MRO plans and policies. Access to such data can be appropriately anonymized to take care of proprietary information and can eb further access controlled.
Many such decisions can be embedded within the platform through smart contracts, leading to automated execution and swift delivery of results.
Key Participants: Airline, Airport, MRO division and OEM
Flight Delay Insurance
Travel insurance covers the passenger across multiple conditions such as flight delay. When a flight is delayed for a qualifying duration and reason, such as four hours of delay due to equipment snag, passenger is eligible for benefits claim from the insurer. The travel insurance contract is codified in smart contract and the flight data is fed to the Blockchain based platform in real-time. As soon as the system detects that a claim condition is met, the corresponding smart contract executes and auto-files the claim. The Insurer validates & sanction the claim through smart contract and thus claim is settled with no human involvement. By integrating it with payment system, instantaneous payout can also be enabled.
Key Participants: Airline, Airport, Insurer and Passenger
A loyalty program is a marketing strategy designed to encourage customers to continue to shop at or use the services of a business associated with the program. A blockchain based loyalty program would allow participating merchants to not only easily integrate with the system (reduce onboarding time) but would also allow them to issue loyalty points as token (ease of points earn and burn). Users can redeem these tokens with any partner merchant. If desired, the system can be integrated with cryptocurrency exchanges such that the users can exchange their loyalty tokens for cryptocurrency. This provides even wider scope for redemption of the loyalty benefits.
Key Participants: Customer, Airline, Hotel, Regulator and Financial Organization
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