The Holy Grail of Airline Marketing: Why Blockchain Is Key to Seamless Transactions & Higher Revenue

Across the travel sector, a clear trend is emerging as suppliers and merchants seek to create one seamless experience for passengers and guests, making it faster, easier and more secure to complete any travel transaction – from booking and check-in to airport security and duty-free shopping – on a mobile device.

Right now, there is far too much fragmentation in travel, and passengers are encountering significant friction on their journeys and paths to purchase, which hurts revenue for airlines (and everyone else). Even basic processes such as check-in or baggage claim, for instance, are frequently not tied to a passenger mobile app where customers could also receive real-time offers for airport retail, or track their baggage to know the moment it arrives. With a seamless travel experience, airlines could make the journey easier and more efficient for all their passengers, and transform any touchpoint into an opportunity for mobile revenue.

Higher transactional efficiency will be necessary as global passenger demand doubles over the next twenty years. As airlines invest in new mobile solutions, they should think seriously about the larger vision for a mobile travel sector, and how it will affect their own revenue goals.

Traveler ID and Blockchain
In an Accenture survey of senior airline executives, one respondent from a European network carrier painted a  daunting picture of the business challenge: “We have to capture, analyze, and model data from 47 different points of contact, and also translate this data into meaningful, differentiating customer experiences at each of the 47 points. Three years ago, most of these points never even spoke to each other.” Another executive commented: “Our vision for 2020 is perfectly clear. We’re just not able to implement it.” Many airlines are fully aware of the digital and mobile challenges, but are still struggling to find solutions.

The “holy grail” for a seamless travel sector (and higher revenue) may come once customers have a single traveler ID housed securely on a public “blockchain” – an innovative new model for storing and sharing customer data, made popular by the bitcoin cryptocurrency. With a traveler ID, authorized suppliers and merchants would have access to essential data such as passports or frequent flyer miles. Blockchain uses a “distributed ledger” so everything that happens on the blockchain is transparent, which helps keep data secure and prevents fraud – a top concern for airlines and airport security.

Before a traveler ID can work, airlines will need to think hard about the future of data and how best to prepare for it, and blockchain will be part of that future. The airline industry generates unbelievable amounts of data every day. Yet, this is only a sliver of the data that customers generate during their trips – from airport to hotel and every point in between. With a blockchain-based traveler ID, every transaction would be tied to a single digital profile, rather than having many isolated profiles across different airlines, hotels, loyalty programs or mobile wallets. This would become a “single source of truth” for the travel industry to work from, giving airlines a less fragmented view of each customer and enabling them to provide more relevant search booking results, travel packages and loyalty rewards.

Unlike legacy systems, the mobile channel is specifically designed to handle new sources of data, and can be quickly integrated with other legacy systems. In a seamless travel experience, passengers would go from home to airport to hotel, without ever standing in a long line or sharing sensitive information. The “infrastructure” needed for travel – boarding pass, passport, payment information, loyalty points – would be available on their smartphones.

The Business Case for Airlines
Just last year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in collaboration with Airports Council International (ACI) launched the New Experience in Travel and Technologies (NEXTT) initiative, to optimize the use of emerging technologies, processes and design developments. The initiative is a sort of “lab” for the next generation of air travel, and will focus on using technology to streamline processes and improve real-time decision-making. In an airline industry where high-tech biometrics are becoming standard, airline executives would probably agree that mobile solutions are a baseline investment for moving toward a more seamless, frictionless travel sector. With revenue gains increasingly tied to digital innovation, airline executives should take a new look at their mobile revenue strategies, and consider whether they have the capabilities needed to execute a better strategy.

Similar to NEXTT, CellPoint Mobile founded the Travel Innovation Hub to help airlines and other suppliers and merchants apply blockchain technology to the travel sector. If you are an airline executive interested in the possibilities for blockchain and mobile commerce, let’s schedule a meeting today to discuss what CellPoint Mobile has to offer. CellPoint Mobile helps airlines see the mobile opportunity on the sell and pay side of every travel transaction, and provides mobile-first solutions that enable more bookings and higher revenue.