The travel industry has been affected by the emergence and continued development of the internet. What Web 3.0 will mean for travel.
Maybe it's not as obvious to you because you're thinking that you're "just using the internet" - but let us tell you: the internet has come a long way, and so have its implications on the travel industry.
With this article, we want to bring light into the darkness: What exactly do we mean by the often-used term Web 3.0? What impact have the developments of the internet had on the travel industry? And finally - how can companies operating in the travel sector benefit from future innovations?
If we think back to the travel industry at the turn of the millennium, the experience for end-users was quite different than it is today. When it came to the next holiday, people either went to their local travel agency or - for the braver ones - bought a guidebook, spent some hours reading, and planned their holiday on their own. The difference in the way consumers book their travel today - as we all know - could not be more significant.
We can see it when looking at the possibilities offered to customers by Booking.com, Airbnb, Skyscanner, and many others. They simply seem endless. Also, the developments we have seen inside businesses in the industry so far are immense.
But how did we get there, and what's next?
In the beginning, the World Wide Web meant unlimited access to information for users. Web 1.0 refers to the absolute beginnings of the internet - text and data collections from the 1990s, built on HTML with seemingly no formatting whatsoever, published on the internet and thus made accessible to anyone who might be interested.
Comment functions, individualization, and the like were dreams of the future. This is why Web 1.0 is also known as the "read-only" web. One could read information, nothing more.
For travel, the first version of the internet gave people easier access to information regarding their destinations - country characteristics, traditions, hotels, everything could suddenly be found online. However, because of the nature of Web 1.0, users were not yet able to interact with the data or make good use of it for themselves.
Want to travel back in time? Check out this rebuild of the early beginnings of the internet.
While in Web 1.0. one could only access information, in the early 2000s, Web 2.0. has become a kind of "participatory web".
Social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter emerged users got accustomed to personalized content and to being able to actively engage with the internet to create their own content.
The conjunction of the Web 2.0 and the travel industry has become known as Travel 2.0. And it completely reshaped the sector: Online bookings, review platforms like Tripadvisor, and numerous other new business models emerged.
While there came a lot of good from Web 2.0, on the other hand, Travel 2.0 disrupted companies and sub-sectors that failed to integrate the new web-based business models.
The bankruptcy of local travel agents and the emergence of services such as Airbnb are just two widely known examples. One other thing we know for sure: already in 2018, 82% of trips were booked online via a mobile app or website - without human interaction. In 2019, the online travel booking market share made up 63% of the $1.2 trillion the travel industry generated. This is huge, the impact of Web 2.0 on the travel industry - undeniable.
And companies that thought they didn't have to go with the trend? Have suffered greatly.
The same is happening right now.
So, Web 1.0 was all about reading information, Web 2.0 was about co-creation (especially user-generated content), we know that already.
But what is Web 3.0 going to be about?
To understand Web 3.0, we need to detach ourselves from the image we associate with the internet we know today. The current transition to Web 3.0 offers even greater possibilities, even more innovation, and change than the leap from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 represented.
This is because Web 3.0 is based on the core concepts of decentralization, openness, data security, and greater benefits for users - all facilitated through blockchain technology. As such, it could potentially be more disruptive and even a bigger paradigm shift as Web 2.0.
To be more specific, using artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain technology, Web 3.0 aims to create open, more connected intelligent websites and web applications.
Web 3.0 will thus bring a completely new structure and technology to the travel industry and, consequently also, infinite opportunities for new products or business offerings.
Although the possibilities that Web 3.0 will offer are yet to explore, companies in the travel industry need to be aware that we are in the midst of an immense transformation. To stay relevant in the market, it is therefore critical to actively shape this new way of thinking in the industry. In this, Chain4Travel with the Camino consortium blockchain serves as a facilitator for travel companies of all sizes and sub-sectors. In addition to the already mentioned point of remaining competitive in the market, there are various other reasons why companies should (at the latest) now concern themselves with Web 3.0.
According to the latest data from the TravelTech Show, 74% of business professionals in the sector plan to use Web 3.0 as a marketing tool. So the train is already rolling. Furthermore, there are various potential ways to make business models more efficient, more attractive and to save costs.
To only mention a few, consider the following:
This list is by no means exhaustive and is only the tip of the iceberg, but it illustrates the countless opportunities that Web 3.0 offers in the travel industry - and the opportunities that companies who do not want to follow the trend are going to pass on. Think back to the travel agencies at the time of the Web 2.0 disruption ...
At this year's "Travel Un'chained" event, held in September in Mallorca, Ralf Usbeck, CEO of Chain4Travel and founder of Peakwork, addressed a real-life use case of Web 3.0 in travel by using the example of hotels.
What sounds unimaginable today could become a reality powered by blockchain very soon: Complete and easily accessible hotel information.
A new generation asking for more personalization, sustainability and decentralization; pandemics and rising interest rates ... the travel industry definitely has a lot to think about and a lot of potential to be exploited in the coming years.
Even though we have just arrived at the intersection of travel and Web 3.0, leading brands have to think about how they can leverage these developments for themselves.
Chain4Travel is building the new ecosystem for the travel industry that enables your organization to be part of the change and benefit from the new technologies.