News, Insights and Stories from the Australian and New Zealand tech ecosystem.

Webjet and Microsoft aim to transform hotel bookings with new blockchain solution

Webjet and Microsoft have today announced the creation of a new blockchain proof-of-concept [PoC] solution that they believe will transform the travel industry. The solution has the potential to change the way online payments are processed and managed for hotel bookings.

Globally, hotel room wholesaling is a $100 billion industry, with more than a million transactions taking place every day. A single hotel stay could involve five or more transactions, however the sheer volume of bookings passed through the distribution chain is prone to numerous data discrepancies.

“Between five and 10 percent of bookings can be impacted, or in other words, up to $10 billion dollars worth of transactions,” said managing director of Webjet, John Guscic.

Webjet is one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest online travel agencies and is responsible for managing thousands of hotel bookings daily across brands including Lots of Hotels and Sunhotels.

Together with Microsoft, Webjet has been exploring blockchain as a way to improve the wholesale hotel environment and better manage online payments. In Australia blockchain technology is slowly entering more industries, branching out from fintech and crypto-currencies.

In the last year blockchain has been used in the healthtech, agritech and the entertainment industry, with startup Cyph MD improving healthcare payment processes, Full Profile helping farmers get paid on time and Veredictum looking to prevent independent film piracy.

Blockchain technology has already been established as the next revolution in transaction recording and according to IT research analyst, Gartner, blockchain-based businesses will be worth US$10 billion by 2022.

Initially Webjet were looking to use blockchain PoC to boost efficiencies in its own supply chain, however when it saw the potential it had to change the entire travel industry it decided to work with Microsoft to start building smart contracts.

“We realised facilitating bookings in the travel industry through blockchain could become an additional business we could enter in the future, and the same technology could also help solve problem outside the travel industry. Undoubtedly, the blockchain technology built with Microsoft is an exciting opportunity for us over the next few years,” said Guscic.

The smart contract that is currently being built by Webjet and Microsoft will address four key issues in the areas of data mismatches. The smart contract will look to remove the risk of data inaccuracies, streamline payment processes, boost data security and resolve pain points in the payment process.

Webjet will be rolling out the blockchain platform in three phases. The first phase will involve the PoC, which is now live and trialling with Lots of Hotels and Sunhotels. The second will see the same two brands trialling automated features to process thousands of transactions weekly and following these trials, the third phase will involve the delivery of the platform to external parties.

Since 2004, Webjet has fostered a relationship with Microsoft, with both working on growing infinitely scalable technology platforms.

Microsoft Azure CEO, Mark Russinovich said, “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.”

Image: John Guscic. Source: Supplied.

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