Blockchain-based distribution services provider TravelX has put up for sale what it calls “the world’s first non-fungible token chain of tickets,” which the company said is a first step in a protocol that will reshape airline distribution and potentially the way companies work with travel teams with airline partners. .
This project is the latest foray into building a blockchain-based distribution platform, after some efforts that have been underway for several years. For example, Winding Tree was one of the first to launch into space, with the goal of developing a “new economy” across the travel supply chain and has since been adding supplier partners. Blockskye is also building a platform to connect buyers and suppliers via blockchain technology, attracting investment from ARC in 2019.
TravelX is the newest entrant, having launched in 2021 and boosted by a $10 million seed funding round announced last month. CEO and Co-founder, Juan Pablo Lavos, founded the Latin American travel company Almundo and before that was the Commercial Director of Aerolineas Argentinas. Former CEO of Orbitz Worldwide Barney Harford also serves as an advisor to the company.
Chief Commercial Officer Francesco Figo said the focus now is to “transfer tickets to NFT”. For starters, NFTs are a unit of data on the blockchain that can be traded but, as “non-fungible” indicates, are unique and not interchangeable – compared to a currency, for example. Those with a passing knowledge of NFTs will likely associate expensive pictures of cats, monkeys, and other celebrity bonds that sell for outrageous amounts, but they’ve already made some appearances in the travel world. In December, Marriott partnered with digital artists to create the NFTs it introduced as part of a Bonvoy promotion at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Miami.
TravelX is debuting NFTs in no less impressive fashion, launching a limited-edition set of “NFTickets” for Air Europa to Miami later this year at an event at the Eiffel Tower on Monday and combining them with artwork, but the goal is to “add real app and experience” to traditional NFT, according to TravelX co-founder Facundo Diaz.
After the event, TravelX’s next step is to build a platform where NFTickets will be available, with plans to “start rolling out to more audiences” later in the year, Vigo said. At the same time, TravelX is building protocols to “be NFT-matched to e-ticket,” meaning it’s constantly updated for schedule changes and rule compliance, via smart contracts, setting parameters about, for example, how much or when they can be sold, he said.
The protocol could lead to airline NFT distribution innovation outside the TravelX platform.
“We do a lot of alliances and partnerships, not just with airlines but with other suppliers,” Figo said. “We intend to be a community here, because we know the company may not want to implement a particular platform.”
For airlines, one goal is to reduce distribution costs, eliminate middlemen, and make it easier to work across borders. However, from a corporate travel perspective, one of the biggest effects of NFT-based airline tickets is that the tokens are redeemable, allowing for different buying strategies, according to Vigo.
“The NFT can be replaced as many times as necessary up to 48 hours before the flight departs,” he said. “A company, for example, would be able to buy 100 tickets from Miami to Madrid, make a deal, and start exchanging those NFTs.”
In addition to airline tickets, Vigo said NFTs could have other use cases in the travel industry, including packages with hotels or in running a loyalty program.
In the past few weeks, Lufthansa-led TNMT research group released a report stating that while the NFT hype has faded a bit this year compared to last year, “2022 is likely to be a good year for NFT startups,” and they are poised for growth in the travel industry. also. Other potential uses include creating “NFT passports” for travelers to use throughout their trip. For example, last year San Marino began issuing Covid-19 vaccination passports with their validity tied to the NFT on the public blockchain, according to TNMT.