What Do Hotels Needs to Know About Blockchain?

By Olga Peddie, Senior Vice President of Client Strategy and Success, Cendyn, and John Jimenez, Director of eCommerce, Noble Investment Group — members of HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council

On a recent conference call with HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council, we asked members a handful of travel and hospitality trends for 2018 — including the blockchain, which generated a particularly interesting discussion.

The highly secure record-keeping technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the blockchain creates an ever-growing list of transactions — called a block — that is decentralized, hard to modify or delete, and resistant to hacking. Once a block is completed, it’s “chained” to other related blocks, forming a permanent record that can be accessed and updated from almost anywhere.

On our Digital Marketing Council call, members speculated on the possible implications and uses of blockchain technology for the hotel industry. Here are some of their thoughts:

  1. Distribution of inventory. “Hospitality has a hard enough time keeping the current systems all in sync,” one Digital Marketing Council member said, “so I’m struggling with how a blockchain would do that, because it’s multiplying all that inventory by thousands and thousands more places where it could be stored…. I’m skeptical it’ll be a use case there.”

Another member agreed, noting, “Yes, you can create a blockchain, but then you’ve got to have suppliers that are going to put inventory on there and then you’ve got to have some kind of demand component to it, and I struggle to see how those two meet up just because there happens to be technology out there.”

  1. Customer tracking. Where there is potential, according to the first member, is when it comes to “identifying consumers and maybe loyalty — with blockchain being a distributed network, keeping track of who people actually are.”
  1. Radical impact. One Digital Marketing Council member compared the current state of the blockchain to where the internet was in the 1990s. “It’s very, very early,” the member said. I personally think it’s going to have a radical impact, but I don’t think we should call it a blockchain — I think that’s kind of a disservice. ‘Distributed ledger’ is really the key, because ultimately, if you can have a large number of suppliers agree [that] this is the protocol we’re going to use and here are the processes to update and yes, you can access our inventory rates — I think it can be very powerful.”

As one of our Digital Marketing Council members noted, the nonprofit startup Winding Tree recently raised millions of dollars as part of an ICO (initial coin offering) to develop a blockchain-based, open-source travel distribution platform — suggesting that this technology isn’t going away anytime soon. We will continue to monitor it, along with any other technologies that seem poised to affect or disrupt the hospitality industry.


HSMAI Digital Marketing Council

The mission of HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Council is to inspire success for HSMAI members and those they serve through the creation, curation and promotion of relevant knowledge in the digital marketing space. Members include:

  • Dustin Bomar, Head of Industry, Travel, Google
  • Aimee Cheek, CHDM, Director of eCommerce, OTO Development
  • Bill Clarke, Director of Sales-Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, Milestone, Inc.
  • Robert Cole, Founder-CEO, RockCheetah
  • Chris Copp, VP, Global Digital Marketing, IHG
  • Jessica Davidson, Vice President, Digital Content + Creative, Wyndham Hotel Group
  • Erica Eyring, CHDM, Director, North America, Expedia Media Solutions
  • Isaac Gerstenzang, CHDM, Assistant Vice President, Corporate E-commerce, Two Roads Hospitality
  • James Hansen, CHA, CHDM, Director, Marketing, Best Western Hotels & Resorts
  • Carolyn Hosna, CHDM, Sr. Corp. Director, Marketing & Distribution, White Lodging
  • Jay Hubbs, III, CHDM, Senior Vice President, eCommerce, Remington Hotels
  • Michael Innocentin, Vice President, E-Commerce & Digital NCA Region, AccorHotels
  • John Jimenez, CHDM, Director of E-commerce, Interstate Hotels & Resorts
  • Sarita Mallinger, Regional Director, Digital Marketing, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
  • Delana Meyer, CHDM, Vice President Digital Strategy, Crescent Hotels & Resorts
  • Amy Mierzwinski, CHDM, Director, Horwath HTL
  • Anna Paccone, CHDM, eCommerce Director – Dallas, Second Wave Marketing / Aimbridge Hospitality
  • Shawn Paley, CHDM, Director, Global eCommerce & Digital Services, Marriott International
  • Olga Peddie, SVP, Client Strategy & Success, Cendyn
  • Donna Quadri-Felitti, CHDM, Director and Associate Professor, Penn State University
  • Mariana Safer, CHDM, SVP, Client Success, HEBS Digital
  • Dave Spector, Partner, Tambourine
  • Dan Wacksman, CHDM, SVP, Marketing and Distribution, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Hunter Webster, CHDM, SVP, Digital Marketing, Interstate Hotels & Resorts
  • Misty Wise, CRME, CHDM, Corporate Director, eCommerce Strategies, Atrium Hospitality
  • Holly Zoba, CHDM, VP, Technology Resources, Hospitality Digital Marketing

Categories: Marketing, Digital
Insight Type: Articles