Blockchain in hospitality with Horst Treiblmaier

During the 3rd International Research Symposium Hotelschool The Hague 9-10 June

For the third time, Hotelschool The Hague is organising the International research symposium with the theme IMPACT. The organisation is very pleased that after an online edition, the doors can be opened again for over 130 (inter)national junior and senior researchers in hospitality, Ph.D. students, doctoral students, partners, alumni, and interested parties from the hospitality industry.

Impact and sustainability are closely intertwined and are expected to converge further towards 2030. Many universities and businesses have stated their support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But how can we operationalise this support for hospitality knowledge production and impact, and how can we ensure that our work has a positive or even transformative impact on our business and our stakeholders. What drives businesses to the ambition of having a positive social impact, other than expected effects on firm performance? How can we move beyond “stopping with plastic straws” initiatives and drive fundamental circular projects for true impact?

Dr. Horst Treiblmaier
During the 3rd International Research Symposium 2022 that will take place on9-10 June, one of the speakers will be Dr. Horst Treiblmaier, who talks about blockchain technology. For the occasion, we have asked him two questions before the symposium. He is a Professor and Head of the International Management Department at Modul University, in Vienna, Austria. His keynote will cover cryptocurrency payments and bookings: The blockchain transformation in the tourism and hospitality industry.

For a wider audience, but also for many professionals, the potential of blockchain remains unclear. Are you aware of any major hotel chains or suppliers developing blockchain initiatives?

First, let me start by making it clear that there is no such thing as “the blockchain”. Instead, there exist numerous protocols that enable a plethora of applications that are built on them. None of them is perfect and is an ideal technical solution that benefits every market player. The underlying technologies that enable blockchain are indeed fairly complex, which often makes it hard to understand what kind of applications can be built and actually make sense. Furthermore, propagated use case are often disruptive, which is why I locate the most revolutionary applications with start-ups and not with established players. But the incumbents are also aware of this situation. For example, the global digital travel company Webjet acquired a 25% stake in the blockchain start-up LockTrip, where you can already book accommodation. The fully decentralized travel marketplace Winding Tree is ready to go and the Destination Management Organization Heidiland in Switzerland streamlines its processes with the help of blockchain. And there are numerous others that incorporate blockchain in one way or the other, starting with the acceptance of cryptocurrency payments.

What is, for you, the most inspiring example of blockchain implementation, either in our sector or in any other type of industry?

If with “inspiring” you mean “revolutionary” it is clearly Bitcoin since it not only paved the way for numerous future applications but also has the potential to replace or supplement existing monetary systems. I am not judging this in any way, since the outcome is rather unpredictable and, most likely, it will not happen due to strong opposition from central banks, but it is still a very radical scenario. If with “inspiring” you mean “creative” then I see non-fungible tokens as the starting point for many innovations that will arise in the not-too-distant future. This will also have huge implications for the tourism and hospitality industry. Just imagine that you package your offering in a digital token that can be easily traded and also enriched with additional functionality. The tokenization of hotel rooms, excursions, or events can potentially reduce costs, remove ticket fraud, and allows for the offering of additional services. Interestingly, this can potentially be done in a privacy-preserving manner.

It is clear that blockchain technology can be used in various ways in the hospitality industry and those ground-breaking innovations will be rolled out in the near future.


3rd Research Symposium 9 and 10 June

During the symposium, the organisation invited several inspiring keynote speakers.

The programme can be found on the website of Hotelschool The Hague.