Is blockchain technology another Y2K for hospitality?

Blockchain
Is blockchain technology something for hospitality to take note of or is it just another Y2K?

This past June at HITEC Toronto, it would seem that HFTP put blockchain technology right in the middle of hospitality’s radar. After some well-received education sessions and an announcement by HFTP that an industry task force on the subject was being organized, the “blockchain buzz” began in earnest. Here are some points that the industry should find useful

What is blockchain technology (BT)?

Don and Alex Tapscott, the father and son co-founders of the Blockchain Research Institute and past keynote speakers at HFTP events, describe it as, “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions, but virtually everything of value.”

Still hard to decipher? In an attempt to interpret the above statement for a hospitality perspective, I offer the following: Picture if you will, that you are a corporate executive of a major travel enterprise with thousands of spreadsheets containing thousands of financial transactions that are duplicated at each one of your locations. Then picture that the decentralized network is designed to regularly update all of the spreadsheets at all of the locations. This is the basic idea of a blockchain.

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Is blockchain technology something for hospitality to take note of or is it just another Y2K?

BT is actually the technology behind cryptocurrency (altcoin), the most widely known of which seem to be bitcoin and Ethereum. It is real, “in play” and it is something people are already spending billions of dollars on. But it is highly controversial and has generated a firestorm of headlines…  good and bad.

Since HITEC Toronto, HFTP has been contacted by a number of industry VIPs who want to be involved with the HFTP task force because they believe its impact is going to disrupt the industry. Conversely, other VIPs were totally unaware of BT and some have said BT is similar to the Y2K fervor.

Will BT Put Airbnb, Expedia and Priceline out of business?

The answer is probably not. Research would indicate that if BT catches on as predicted, it will change the business model of anyone in the transaction business. Any time that a customer and supplier can cut out all or part of an intermediary, theoretically the cost should be less, and hopefully, it should increase money in one or both digital wallets. HFTP is a small organization and our transaction fees for currency conversion and credit card processing are HUGE… imagine if your enterprise could erase even a fraction of these due to BT.

Another benefit to BT is that it is continually updated, reconciled and stored in decentralized locations. This makes records transparent and auditable because the transactions cannot be changed in just one place and the network has to “agree” to changes. If this proves to be true, hacking will be virtually impossible.

How can I get involved in the industry’s BT task force?

If you are interested in being considered for the HFTP Blockchain Task Force, please e-mail your interest to [email protected] Volunteers should include a link to their Linkedin profile or CV, be prepared to attend at least two in-person meetings annually and have employer time and financial support. 

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