Though Overhyped, Blockchain Holds Promise in Travel – Travel Weekly

Chain concept - Photo by Andrew Haimerl on Unsplash
Though Overhyped, Blockchain Holds Promise in Travel

Pedro Anderson, founder and COO of the nonprofit travel distribution platform Winding Tree, is something of an evangelist for open-source computer code, calling it ‘the only way to truly innovate.’

It’s also a foundational value of Winding Tree, which develops in blockchain, an open-source technology.

“If you look at most of the innovations that we’re used to and so comfortable with today — email, phones, for example, even Macs and Apple and Android devices — those are all built on open-source technology,” he said. “Without open-source technology, you can’t accelerate at the same pace.”

Unlike proprietary code, open-source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. That means that if a developer is working to solve an isolated problem, others can use the resulting code and build upon whatever progress that developer makes.

At the moment, the industry is just beginning to explore the potential of blockchain in travel solutions. Winding Tree, for example, is one of a number of industry players, including IATA, that are mulling how blockchain-based technology will impact airlines.

Its ultimate uses are unclear, as is its possible impact on travel advisers, which depends heavily on how it is ultimately adopted and applied by suppliers.

Whatever that eventuality, Phocuswright analyst Norm Rose thinks blockchain has already been hyped to excess.

“I think that the reality of blockchain is like every emerging technology,” he said. “It’s been overhyped, and now it’s kind of sliding down that Gartner Trough of Disillusionment.”

Rose was referencing research company Gartner’s theory of a new technology’s hype cycle. According to that theory, innovation is triggered and leads to a Peak of Inflated Expectations, then drops dramatically to the Trough of Disillusionment before slowly rising again until the technology is used productively and its promise matches expectations.

Rose, who is also an adviser to Winding Tree, added, “I actually think [blockchain] has been overhyped so much already that now we’re looking for actual, practical issues here.”

Winding Tree’s foray into the blockchain-and-airlines space began last month with a hackathon that brought together startups, airlines and more. 

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