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IBM Innovations: Blockchain and AI Will Change the Face of Travel Industry

As IBM continues to demonstrate its determination to use blockchain research and development in a number of sectors, it has now embarked on its latest collaboration with Travelport, the platform which provides distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the travel and tourism industry.

The two companies had previously combined to launch a new platform which targeted corporate business with a solution to optimise travel budgets. The AI platform utilizes Travelport data to manage all travel related costs making travel a more efficient overall experience.

The new collaboration takes the two companies into distribution. Travelport’s Chief Architect, Mike Croucher explained:

“If you look at our relationship with IBM, it’s one that has been in existence since the beginning of the global distribution system (GDS),” adding “In this instance, we are looking at new ways of innovation. IBM brings their R&D, while we bring our experience and knowledge of the industry. Because of our history, we are now able to combine resources, breaking into A.I. and blockchain technology.”

Travelport is determined to learn from IBM and understand exactly how blockchain solutions can be applied to the travel industry in the most innovative way.  IBM’s Travel & Transportation industry Client Lead, Elizabeth Pollock sees the collaboration as mutually beneficial:

“IBM’s opportunity to expand and disrupt the industry together provides for a very exciting collaboration outside of Travelport’s core business model.”

A factor which is certain to have a positive impact on the partnership is the use of IBM’s Watson, the IBM supercomputer that combines artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated analytical software for optimal performance as a “question answering” machine.

Croucher remarked how the technology behind Watson had developed over time and was now finding applications across sectors:

“I’ve been in the travel and IT industries for nearly 40 years, seeing Watson develop. Once the technology becomes high-profile, you need to understand how to apply it across industries. I think AI has become easier to apply and more cost-effective. Watson, over the last few years, has very much developed from a highly-skilled R&D, now being implemented across many verticals.”

Watson has now found a range of uses across the industry, including medical centres and AI related applications such as voice recognition, business analytics, and natural language processing. As part of its new technologies development programme, IBM is now urging the US government to take a lead in promoting blockchain technology in order to move the industry forward. IBM was previously reported working with up to 63 clients on over 400 projects related to blockchain technology.

The tech giant is confident that blockchain will streamline solutions and be a leading innovator in its field. Earlier this year CFO Jim Kavanaugh stated: “For us, blockchain is a set of technologies that allow our clients to simplify complex, end-to-end processes in a way that couldn’t have been done before.”

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