Blockchain and machine learning: developments for 2018

Why is so much importance given to these technologies? How will they change the world of business travel? Read on to find out.

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Through data optimisation, travel operators are constantly revising their strategy and improving the customer experience. Once again, this year has seen the emergence of new technologies that are set to be unmissable opportunities. Here's why! 

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a technology for storing and sharing information that operates without a central control point but keeps the traceability of products and assets. Blockchain technology operates with a cryptocurrency* as a medium of exchange. In short, it functions in a way that ensures operations are fast and secure, with no intermediary. This is what makes this technology ideal for when people change their mind or want to change their trip, because they can do so in complete security from their mobile. The results: 43% of travel operators are currently exploring the possibilities of using this technology in their own applications, particularly for payment or for promoting customer loyalty, according to a report compiled by Travelport Digital.  

Examples of where blockchain can be applied

The Travelport Digital report also highlights how these technologies can be used to reduce the need for intermediaries. This is what travel operators are most interested in. For example, Lufthansa has decided to cut itself lose from GDS with the help of blockchain, which has led to the democratisation of payment between private individuals. TUI hotels have transferred their entire hotel listing to blockchain, abolishing the fees and commissions raked in by payment intermediaries. As for airlines, Air New Zealand is focusing on optimising the security and performance of its service through blockchain technology, particularly for bookings and luggage tracking. This makes for cheaper and safer travel that is easier to organise too; what's not to like! 

Machine learning: predictive analysis for the benefit of travel

Predicting the future: isn't this the ultimate goal of the travel industry? This could mean being able to predict the next flights that a user will book, knowing their hotel preferences, anticipating their needs, and the list goes on. This would make for quite a customer experience! Over the past few years, machine learning has been gradually offering travel businesses the tools to predict the behaviour of their customers.
Machine learning is actually capable of learning over time by building on data. More specifically, with analysed data at their fingertips, a hotel manager will be able to see the type of room that one of their guests prefers. When this guest next goes to book, the hotel manager will promote this room on the hotel website and offer it to the guest at a discounted rate. The same goes for seat reservations on planes, the type of food customers are likely to eat, the transport they will book, etc. The travel industry would be mad to let this opportunity pass them by: according to a CMO survey conducted by American Express, 83% of Millennials are inclined to let brands track their data if this means they can enjoy a more personalised experience. 

Examples of where machine learning can be applied

United Airlines now uses a system that analyses 150 variables in a traveller's profile. The artificial intelligence used is capable of providing tailor-made offers at just the right time. This technology is what has enabled United Airlines to increase annual growth by 15%, according to the Exastax report. This is a win-win system. 
Published by Magali on 20/07/2018 Photo credit: © chombosan *Cryptocurrency: an alternative, and entirely virtual currency based on a decentralised, peer-to-peer information network. This currency has the unique feature of being encrypted, meaning it can only be used by the person with the code to decrypt it.

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