In this post-covid era, an airport’s digital capabilities are arguably as integral to a successful passenger experience as the airport’s physical infrastructure. The aviation industry can no longer rely on outdated assumptions about travelers. Covid has changed everything at an unprecedented pace. The passenger demographic is different, passenger behavior is changing as are their expectations about all aspects of the travel experience. Understanding these changes and recognizing that they will continue to evolve is critical to successfully operating an airport in the Covid and (hopefully) Post-Covid era. And doing that requires an Artificial Intelligence powered digital backbone that not only facilitates services such as e-commerce but also analyzes data to provide insights about passenger preferences, movement patterns, and wait times at security stations and other gathering points.
The business case for this investment is an easy one. Airports are more than just travel hubs. - They are, properly done, a revenue-generating powerhouse for the city and entire region. As the first and last impression on each traveler, Airports set the tone for the business trip or family vacation and that has a direct impact on the bottom line for the airport, the city, and the entire region. For relatively little money, an AI-powered digital backbone helps airport executives keep that powerhouse operating efficiently and providing a positive experience for travelers and locals alike.
At FetchyFox, we are passionate about technology and the travel experience. Our sole mission is to guide airports as they begin their digital transformation - starting with touchless technologies. Inspired by covid-19, but a good investment to focus on in any year, Touchless Technologies can help create a more seamless experience for passengers and a safer journey for everyone.
With that in mind, here are just a few of the areas where going touchless will have the biggest impact on revenues, the customer experience and, sometimes, both
- The topic of Biometrics at the airport is not a new one, but in the midst of Covid, it has gained popularity for everything from contactless temperature checks to passport scanning. This helpful, cutting-edge technology comes with security and privacy weaknesses that need to be considered and planned for when searching for a reliable provider.
- Not the most exciting topic on our list, but contactless forms of payment cannot be underrated during a global pandemic. Cards and virtual wallets like ApplePay, that can be tapped to make a purchase cut down on the unnecessary spread of germs from customer to cashier (and vice versa). Taking it a step further and giving people the option to complete the checkout process on their own device can give nervous travelers peace of mind and increase the likelihood of them making a purchase. As an added benefit, this can cut down on the long, physical lines queuing up at checkout.
- A very simple technology with multiple applications and a noticeable ROI, QR Codes can be an important digital gateway to your airport. As a very low-cost investment, airports can use strategically placed QR codes to help passengers find important information, collect feedback, increase commerce transactions, luggage tags, and more.
- Digital channels for distribution of goods and services, and information
- Questions arise throughout the travel experience from, “Do I need a Covid test to travel here? Will there be a concession open when my flight arrives? How long is the security line at TSA?” A digital platform that attracts users with important information (especially when it’s not easily accessible) is the safest, most direct way for an airport to reach its customers.
- Location-Based Services (LBS)
- LBS creates a more engaging experience and cuts out some of the typical confusion people experience in large, busy airports. For passengers that are looking for something to eat or a souvenir to buy, they can get real-time commerce suggestions based on where they are in the terminal. Taking it a step further, the commerce suggestions can be based on their set dietary restrictions, purchase history, and more. Another service this technology provides is an airport map that shows their exact location and can guide confused travelers to a bathroom, help desk, or their gate.
Empowering Your Customers to Go Touchless
Airports can encourage travelers to go touchless (and potentially drive e-commerce sales) by making a few, relatively inexpensive features readily available. These include:
- Consolidated Digital Marketplace
- Forward thinking airports should place a high priority on creating a single A.I. powered digital location that gives travelers access to all services and products available at the airport. This includes parking reservations, meet-and-greet service, concessions, flight information, baggage information, lost & found and security wait times (both forecasted and real time). It is safe to assume that this kind of consolidated digital marketplace will quickly become a defining and necessary feature for modern airports.
- While not every airport agrees on providing reliable, free wifi to passengers, doing so maximizes the touch points (pun intended) with the modern traveler. Properly done, free wifi can be revenue positive AND elevate the traveler experience.
- If a passenger is able to charge their device while waiting for their flight, they are much more likely to surf your airport’s offerings.
Privacy and Security is always a Priority
As any tech company can attest, cutting corners on privacy procedures and security will result in catastrophic losses - reputation, revenue, and customers. At FetchyFox, we design and build with data privacy and security in mind and have even offered some guidance regarding cybersecurity.
We’re all in this together
Recovery demands that every airport, employee, and passenger do their part in ensuring that travel can remain open without the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. Passengers need to follow the rules of the airport and airlines that are servicing them. Employees can continue to enforce said rules. Finally, airports must invest in contactless technologies that can build traveler confidence back like never before. The answer to a more safe and efficient airport, with happy travelers that have their expectations met or exceeded during every visit, lies in a long-overdue digital transformation.