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How Cryptocurrency is Changing the Travel Industry

Article written by Jeremy FouFounder and CEO of TripCandy


Over the past few years, the popularity of cryptocurrencies has grown at a breakneck pace – as has consumer appetite for more use cases for crypto in travel. There may still be a long way to go, but progress has certainly been promising: among the top crypto-enabled industries, travel is number onesays a recent study.

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Whether pioneered by an innovative crypto startup or a global giant, blockchain-based solutions have flooded the space, many of which are designed to tackle travelers’ biggest pain points. For example, consulting giant Accenture recently partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to launch the Known Traveler Digital Identity System. This blockchain collects and hosts data from frequent international travelers to streamline their next customs declaration and clearance experience.

It is now as clear as day that cryptocurrencies – and their underlying principles – are bound to have seismic effects on the travel industry. Here’s how.

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Easy and transparent payments everywhere

In January, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky took to Twitter to ask the company’s followers about what the company should be launching this year. The result? Unsurprisingly, what topped the list was being able to pay for reservations in crypto.

These results are consistent with the results of another survey, which found that 22% of American travelers now want to pay with crypto. Fortunately, the industry wasted no time reacting to this growing demand, with platforms like Expedia already allowing customers to pay for hotel reservations using Bitcoin. And airlines are starting to follow suit, with AirBaltic, Norwegian Air, and LOT Polish Airlines being among those already accepting crypto payments.

Crypto is just perfect for travel because it can cement an industry that has historically been fragmented and rigid, with many manual and even paper-based processes. After all, a traveler’s experience involves various touchpoints, from car rentals and flights to restaurants, hotels or activity bookings. With a single, seamless system that bypasses costly gatekeepers and third parties, travelers can pay for their experience in a direct, faster, and safer way.

Enabling Crypto Payments Is Also Key To Attracting growing population. The number of global crypto millionaires has soared in 2021 to over 100,000, and there is considerable interest from them to use their crypto earnings on travel experiences, especially those centered on luxury and personalized services.

Loyalty programs, redefined

According to data from MasterCard, loyalty programs have never been more popular than they are today, with 90% of American adults belonging to at least one. For travel, loyalty and cashback programs are fundamental, helping companies compete with aggregation platforms, keep loyal customers coming back and encourage them to travel more often.

But while traditional loyalty programs have been around for decades, they have lost some of their shine compared to exciting crypto rewards.

The main problem with most loyalty programs is that they don’t offer enough value. Today, the most common reward programs are reward points, which are completely controlled by the company. If she chooses to discontinue them or offer less in return, there is nothing the customer can do. However, cryptocurrency is decentralized, which means its value will fluctuate with market demand. And what’s more: it even allows travelers to redeem or redeem their loyalty points for fiat, incentivizing them to participate and earn value in new ways.

For example, Northern Pacific Airways, a new carrier that plans to launch later this year, plans to reward frequent travelers with flyCoin. Customers will be able to redeem the token for free flights and elite airline status, among other things.

The use of cashback in the travel industry has also been plagued with its problems. It tends to be very regional and does not take inflation into account, so the value of the reward decreases over time. Crypto cashback allows customers to realize the value of their rewards and withdraw or spend anywhere in the world, regardless of currency. With crypto, cashback becomes a kind of investment: a traveler invests every time they book a trip and earns coins that they can use for other experiences.


bitcoin trading market data chart
Bitcoin trading market data chart (Photo courtesy of KeremYucel/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Say goodbye to physical tickets and manual confirmations

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will also be a key blockchain-powered innovation to disrupt travel. Representing true proof of digital ownership (which can manifest in the real world), NFTs could act as a form of passport or ticket to provide verifiable and transparent access to goods and services within the travel industry. .

Lost or faulty reservations or a traveler having to use different platforms would be a thing of the past. With NFTs, travelers could simply have all information stored in their wallet, reducing the risk of fraud while improving their customer experience.

Although the space is still in its infancy, its potential is immense. And pioneers are already taking action: for example, LynKey, a global platform that powers luxury resorts and vacation properties with blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), recently launched a marketplace project for tokenization and offering NFT solutions for travel and tourism.

Ultimately, these efforts will help travelers avoid many problems, including dealing with local currencies, lack of transparency, and losing money to exchanges and third parties. Cryptographic solutions will allow them to personalize, modify, cancel or even sell their trips without losing money and without having to go through laborious bureaucratic procedures.

Travelers and travel businesses who have yet to venture into crypto may find this daunting. Although there are some challenges, including slippery regulations and fluctuations in value, these will be resolved as the market matures. When that happens, it will be the early adopters who know best how to navigate space — and thrive.