Don Birch, chief executive of the professional services arm of Blockchain travel platform Simard, says the incentive to get progress right in travel is enormous
Guest Post: How the traveller will continue to inspire innovation in a Web 3.0 world
Don’t quote me on this, but my favourite management book of all time is Diffusion of Innovation by Everett Rogers (gulp!).
I am sure that you will all be familiar with the concept of innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.
The book was written 60 years ago, but the underlying principles have not changed, “most people struggle to try new ideas even though the benefits seem obvious”.
It seems that as individuals and communities, we are wired to be predominantly conservative.
Travel is renowned for being just plain conservative and for good reason.
The travel product is highly perishable; the room night disappears at midnight and the aeroplane seat evaporates when the door is closed, so if you get it wrong, it can be disastrous.
Yet since the first electronic flight ticket was issued in 1999, we have come a long way.
Every day we happily entrust thousands of dollars of travelling to websites and expect things to fall into place when we turn up at the airport or hotel.
But all is not well; the innovation of the past 20-plus years has been uneven; it is complex and the system has acquired major inefficiencies and there is much too much centralisation of power.
Complexity and risk makes change hard, but a decade from now courtesy of Web 3.0, systems will have substantially changed (that word again) and there will be a new player on the block – the traveller.
Web 3.0 technologies will have turned the envelop inside out. The traveller will be the owner of the data and as a result will be back in charge. As is already happening today.
Eighty percent or more of travel will be transacted directly by the traveller using personalised booking tools supported by crypto wallets.
Where specialised knowledge is needed, the travel expert will be invited to participate in the journey but on the traveller’s terms and will act more as a service agent than an agent of purchase.
The travel wallet instead of being a disjointed set of travel segments as we have today, will be repository of logically integrated elements, not limited to flights and hotels.
Start-ups have already integrated electric pay-as-you-go scooters into the international business journey and there is no reason why this should not extend to the jump-the-queue museum ticket or dinner reservations.
Better still, because all these elements are related, changes to one can be automatically reflected by dependent others.
The opportunity to deliver highly personalised content and value is huge. Like all change, this journey will be a blend of planned activity and happenstance.
There will be false starts and blind alleys, but because the prize is so large – a $9trillion travel market - the incentive to get it right is enormous.