The coronavirus pandemic affected most global industries and, probably, the tourism industry the most. One of the biggest hit was taken by airlines, with an estimate of 44% fall below 2019’s revenue Actually, in the US, “The impact on travel is six or seven times greater than the 9/11 attacks,” according to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the US Travel Association. Stepping into the post-pandemic days, the world is desperate for solutions that could revive the tourism industry.
For some industries, progress didn’t stop (more info here). Working remotely became a necessity and both, employees and employers adapted pretty fast. Anyway, this massive work-from-home movement wouldn’t have been possible today without companies like Zoom or Microsoft having the technology in place to sustain millions of concurrent video calls, chats, and file transfers.
Airlines and other companies activating in the traveling field weren’t so fortunate as tourism can’t be easily digitalized. However, I strongly believe that technology will play a big role in how people will travel in the post-pandemic world. To be more specific, blockchain might be the one to revive the whole industry as the most promising companies which could help us travel in a ‘social distancing’ way are coming from the decentralized space!
I will present and discuss in detail the most unique solutions but, for you, as a sneak peek here they are:
Over 200 countries imposed restrictions during the pandemic. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization report, “Never before in history has international travel been restricted in such an extreme manner.” How can we travel in such a way that we can regain the trust of these governments to allow international travel at the same level as it was before?
Traveling nowadays requires a lot of planning unless you want to find yourself being scammed, wasting your time in queues, or even run in circles trying to follow a foreign map. You might be tempted to rely on a travel agency to do the hard work, but meeting with a travel agent is an unnecessary risk. Plus, even if you use digital means to communicate, your only payment method will most likely be cash which means that you’ll still have to make physical contact.
Anyway, in the world of Google Flights and Booking.com, travel agencies are becoming obsolete. The Internet has made it easier than ever for you but is it as easy as it should be?
Most third parties are imposing high transactional fees that could easily add up (especially now when the demand moved online)
Google Maps, the de-facto navigation app, comes with a language barrier which makes it unusable to Chinese and other Asian countries residents
Indoor maps are rarely available electronically, which can make pinpointing certain locations difficult without physically being there
Online reviews bring high credibility concerns now that we know that fraudulent or biased reviews are used by businesses to increase their sales and popularity
Making online payments overseas can become an issue when there are no dedicated payment gateways and payment processors between certain regions (i.e. China and European service providers);
BUBU is the flagship app of SpaceTravel aiming to solve all these problems by combining superior geospatial technology, augmented reality, and blockchain and enabling users to travel and navigate with ease. A quick description of SpaceTravel: The project is developed under the Singapore-based company SpaceTime Technology Pte Ltd which is best known for its expertise in offering military-grade cutting-edge navigational satellite technology and industry-leading satellite infrastructure across the globe.
BUBU app is their first step for creating an ecosystem for tourists from across the globe with a focus on Chinese tourists and expatriates. Using its own satellite and navigational technology infrastructure, the app can be seen as a modern-age alternative to Google Maps. To top it up, BUBU smartly eliminates the language barrier by offering auto-translation, interactive communication features, audio guides, and even ticketing information. Plus indoor mapping is also made possible by SpaceTravel by combining military-grade satellite technology with government-supplied map data. You won’t have to put yourself at risk or waste your time trying to find your destination, BUBU will help you navigate directly and efficiently to it.
In the app, blockchain is used for recording smart contracts that execute automatically based on certain conditions or events. In this way, SpaceTravel is able to offer its own dedicated payment method via the MAC Token in a trustless way. Payment providers such as WeChat and Union Pay are still available, but the token-based payment makes sure that the in-app wallet is being compatible with merchants all over the world. Last, but not least, the in-app reviews are always tied to a payment transaction via its blockchain network, so the quality of the feedback is assured by the chain’s immutability.
In a world where social distancing needs to be imposed by any means, the most touristic landmarks like the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tour, or the Statue of Liberty will become less attractive to visitors. Long queues and stuffing the place to maximum capacity is not an option anymore so the probability for you to get a spot exactly when you are planning your vacation in France or New York City is going down drastically.
That’s why, for a successful post-pandemic vacation, you might consider using Cool Cousin - a travel app that virtually connects you with locals for recommendations of places to visit in their area.
Forget the “Top 10” lists. If everyone is using the same resources to plan their trip, those places will get quickly shut down or become practically inaccessible when trying to impose safety measures for their visitors. Sites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet helped us a ton before this whole thing to happen, but their rating-dominated recommendations are doing more harm than good right now. Who would want to plan a trip to the #1,645 must-visit spot? There’s a big chance it’s not worth your time your money and it deserves to be so down the list. Or, is it possible to be a hidden gem, undiscovered due to its low ranking.
Cool Cousin is designed to help you make the difference. Over 500,000 people already used its curated travel experience which could transform you from tourist to traveler exploring pristine beaches, calm oasis, and local restaurants. Just by using this app, you will find yourself in less crowded places, unrestricted, safe, enjoying your vacation as much as you used before.
The company is using a blockchain-based ecosystem to incentivize local guides to monetize their local knowledge. They are using the CUZ token which is powering the decentralized economy within the app. There are no intermediaries along the chain, the transactions are happening directly between local guides and users. At the same time, because there is a clear trace of each transaction, the system’s feedback and rating are more reliable and trustworthy.
Wherever you decide to travel, you might want to choose the faster way to reach your destination. And, in most cases, taking an airplane can be the fastest and the cheapest solution. Anyway, especially during the post-pandemic times, there is one place where you’re going to spend your time and possibly put your life at risk and it’s beyond your control: waiting at immigration to process your documentation. How can you avoid the stress of queuing in a crowded airport without security losing control or oversight?
Technology and digitalization are the answer here as well. The proposed solution is to electronically share your travel documents in advance with the immigration authorities to expedite clearance. The problem here is that digital identity can be forged. That’s why the digital process should be combined with physical authorization. The traveler can be pre-screened at its hotel then the data to be shared with the customs agents. In this way, the clearance process could become smooth and transparent.
The consulting firm Accenture in conjunction with the World Economic Forum (WEF) already created a prototype that demonstrated that such a system could be realized using biometrics, blockchain, and digital technologies: the Known Traveler Digital Identity System (KTDI).
In this system, the blockchain is designed to collect and host identifying information from frequent travelers and create a data flow between these and custom agents. Not only that it creates a trustless ecosystem but, for travelers, this means gaining control over their digital identities. They can now choose who to share their personal information with. The airport processing could be accelerated, the security can be increased, and less health risks could be involved while traveling due to the shorten lines.
These three unique companies proved, by using blockchain’s native capabilities in combination with other technologies, they can change the way we will travel in the future. Maybe, a few months ago, accepting and integrating blockchain in our day to day software solutions would have sounded like something reserved for the next generations. But, with the world going through a pandemic, improvement becomes a necessity, and using new solutions to revive the tourism industry will soon become a priority worldwide. Will you be the first or the last to adopt the new requirements and enjoy traveling as much as we did before all the global recent events?