JetBlue Technology Ventures investor sees plenty of application for Blockchain – including distribution and loyalty 

Most airlines in the Americas have been slow to follow their European counterparts and invest in technology incubators, with the exception of JetBlue. The airline launched a new subsidiary JetBlue Technology Ventures in 2016 to invest in, and partner with, start-ups at the intersection of technology, travel and hospitality.


Highlights:

  • JetBlue Technology Ventures was launched in 2016 to invest in, and partner with, start-ups at the intersection of technology, travel and hospitality;
  • Based in Silicon Valley, it is currently involved with 12 technology start-ups ranging from weather prediction to regional electronic aircraft;
  • New report examines blockchain’s role in the future of distribution;
  • Start-up Loyyal, highlighted as example of blockchain adoption as it works to leverage technology to improve current loyalty systems.

JetBlue Technology Ventures is based in Silicon Valley, and is currently involved with 12 technology start-ups ranging from weather prediction to regional electronic aircraft.

One of the company’s investors recently penned a blog examining blockchain’s future in the travel industry. The piece highlighted blockchain’s role in the future of distribution, noting the technology’s capability to disrupt the space.

Some early experimenters using blockchain to change distribution dynamics include the start-up Winding Tree, a company creating a b2b block blockchain-based platform for air travel, and Lockchain, which is developing a blockchain-based hotel distribution platform.

Blockchain also has potential to improve loyalty programme management, according to the blog.  Citing a recent report by Deloitte the author noted that one fifth of loyalty programme members never redeem their rewards, which sit as liabilities on loyalty providers’ balance sheets.

Both the author and the travel technology provider Amadeus have singled out Loyyal, a San Francisco based start-up attempting to leverage blockchain to improve current loyalty systems. Amadeus has said that unspent loyalty points can hamper capital raising and investment.

According to Amadeus, some of the challenges Loyyal aims to address include leveraging Blockchain to simplify the process of transferring miles between airlines in the same alliance, and helping travellers access loyalty points in real time.

Amadeus also pointed out that any points issued via Loyyal technology are unique, are registered on the blockchain, and can therefore be tracked. The result is that loyalty scheme providers can collect much more powerful data on how travellers spend points to create more personalised customer offers.

The JetBlue Technology Ventures blog cited a Harvard Business Review study that predicted four to six blockchain based loyalty programmes will ultimately dominate the travel space. And it appears Loyyal is well on it way to becoming one of those dominant players.