Travelport and IBM Partner on Blockchain, AI

ATLANTA and ARMONK, N.Y.—Travelport, a travel commerce platform, this week announced it is expanding its longstanding partnership with IBM. 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 traveler recommendations.

In the first of two programs, Travelport is using IBM Blockchain to streamline the hotel and in-trip experience ecosystem. The company says that choices in content, seamless booking, and the fulfillment experience is increasingly important to traveler satisfaction, and travelers are also looking for content to share on social media platforms. Through blockchain, travelers, agents, and hotels can see notable benefits around the management and increased availability of ‘long tail content’. 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.

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“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 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.

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