Web3 Is Proving Itself in Travel

A preview of one of Phocuswright's Travel Innovation and Technology Trends 2023: Roundup: Web3 Is Proving Itself in Travel

After years of hype, 2023 is proving to be a pivotal year for Web3 as this set of decentralized technologies is now delivering concrete, measurable value to the travel industry. Many Web3 companies have only emerged within the last several years but are already driving changes in the way travel is booked, paid for, exchanged and settled. 

Critics who characterize Web3 as a technology looking for a solution may be surprised to learn that some Web3 startups are actively generating revenue and decreasing costs throughout the travel industry. Clearly, Web3 has moved from concept to practical use cases, and is poised to grow rapidly in the value it provides to the industry. 

Examples abound around travel. Phocuswright's latest travel research report on the topic Roundup: Web3 Is Proving Its Value in Travel includes a full summary of concepts in play today, with specific examples. Below are excerpts from the full report:

  • Efficiency and lowering cost of payment/settlement
  • Transforming loyalty
  • Creating a direct distribution environment for airlines, hotels and short-term rentals
  • Enabling large hotel chains to connect directly with their most favored distributors
  • Creating NFTs (non-fungible tokens) for hotel reservations and airline tickets
  • Promoting attribute-based selling of hotel rooms
  • The emergence of dedicated ecosystems governed by the travel industry

Separating the Hype From True Business Impact 

As with any emerging tech trend, expectations are often inflated, especially on day-to-day travel business practices. In the case of Web3 and blockchain, the promise for a new, decentralized travel infrastructure may seem far away as traditional Web2 players still dominate all aspects of travel booking and distribution. But things are changing fast. 

There are dozens of startups focused on some aspect of Web3, with new startups emerging monthly. Many of these startups are providing travelers with new capabilities and flexibility while impacting overall cost of distribution and settlement for industry players. 

Reviewing the Landscape  

The full report contains an in-depth summary of 17 companies that are achieving real-world success by implementing Web3 technology. Sources for company information include vendor conversations, vendor websites, PhocusWire articles and Web3 Travel Tech Startups by Mauricio Prieto. 

The full report includes:

  • How the company is using Web3 technologies
  • Value to the travel industry
  • Current progress and traction
  • Outlook for 2023

Company, year founded, primary segment focus 

Arise Travel  


Founded: 2018 


Key Segment: 

Focusing on hotel distribution with a hotel's corporate and leisure partners 



Founded: 2017 


Key segment: Enterprise travel booking and payments 



Founded: 2021 


Key Segment: All leisure segments  



Founded: 2017 


Key segment: 

Vacation rentals 



Founded: 2020 


Key Segment: 

Hotels and Resorts  

Life Rewards 


Founded: March 2022 

Focus: Hotels  




Founded: 2017 


Focus: Hotel and short-term rental distribution  


Founded: 2022 

Focus: Digital identity, loyalty, and access control solutions for travel (accommodations, airlines/airports, retail) 

New Frontier 


Founded: 2021 


Focus: Connecting virtual reality (VR) with real-world benefits 



Founded: 2022 


Focus: Hotels, resorts, cruise lines, adventure travel, airlines, entertainment  

– plus a few experience brands 



Founded: 2020 


Focus: Membership-based primary and secondary market for hotel rooms 

WindingTree / Simard 

Founded: Winding Tree 2017; Simard 2021 


Focus: WindingTree – Decentralized travel distribution marketplace (WTDM) 


Simard – Corporate travel  

Stay Open 


Founded: 2019 


Focus: Operates high-end hostels with dedicated co-working spaces in repurposed buildings catering to digital nomads and traditional travelers. 




Founded: 2017 


Focus: Consumer travel 




Founded: 2021  


Focus: Entire travel industry, starting with airlines 



Founded: 2022 


Focus: Social travel commerce 



Founded: 2020 


Focus: Payments  


Web3 is still in its infancy, but the momentum is only accelerating on development. There are many looming challenges for Web3 companies. Based on the updates discussed above, these challenges are finally beginning to be addressed and it’s only a matter of time until adoption reaches critical mass. 

Notably, major tech companies and organizations are laying the foundation for interoperability between decentralized identity (SSI) and decentralized applications. This represents a major step necessary to bring the full Web3 vision to life. Forward-looking travel companies will be planning for this phase when it arrives. 

This article is part of a content series that explores some of the most impactful innovation and technology-driven trends that will influence the travel industry in 2023 and beyond.

Watch the online event that covered each trend, presented by Phocuswright analysts:


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