Webjet has developed blockchain for hotel bookings

An ice hotel. Anoek De Groot/AFP/Getty Images

Webjet, the online travel booking service, has launched a blockchain initiative, Rezchain, to make secure hotel bookings.

The company has spent two years developing the blockchain-based solution to eliminate the pain of reconciling accounts payable and accounts receivable, and the inevitable disputed bookings.

Industry estimates assume that 3% to 5% of bookings are disputed in some form. These disputes can take months to resolve.

Blockchain uses computers with advanced encryption to keep track of transactions, giving confidence to both buyers and sellers. Transactions of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin are tracked using blockchain.

Rezchain is the hotel distribution industry’s first functioning blockchain enabled technology platform where companies share information to address mismatched data in real time, eliminating disputes at invoice time.

Webjet today announced Rezchain agreements with Thomas Cook (Europe), DidaTravel (China), Mitra Global (Indonesia), and hotel chain, Far East Hospitality.

“Rezchain requires no technical integration on the part of the participating company; a simple daily file is all that is necessary to begin matching data and solving booking issues” says John Guscic, Webjet’s Managing Director.

“In a low margin, high transaction volume business, it is essential to find ways to be more efficient and eliminate administrative burdens that add no value. It was this fundamental principal has led to the development of Rezchain.”

Webjet is initially offering blockchain as a service to participating companies and expects over time larger organisations will start contributing computing power and running their own nodes.

Graham Anderson, Webjet’s Head of Technology, says it can be overwhelming for a travel company to consider adopting a new process that also requires the steep learning curve of a new technology.

“Some strengths of blockchain technology include that it is decentralised, distributed, and open, but this is also a challenge when companies are sharing sensitive data,” he says.

Rezchain’s architecture ensures any sensitive data stored on chain cannot be decoded, while still allowing access to the granular detail necessary to resolve mismatched booking data.