Passenger Experience Initiatives

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Operating in a volatile environment, airlines today are influenced by a variety of external factors that impact their business – either on the ground or in the air.

Extreme weather conditions, natural disasters, mechanical problems, labour issues, air traffic congestion, security alerts and other disruptions can not only damage an airline’s brand value but also generate unexpected costs, not to mention the fact that it puts tremendous pressure on the airports and the ground staff to accommodate passengers on next flights.

To deal with such delays, airlines as well as to an extent airports need the agility to restore normal services swiftly and cost-efficiently.

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Airports, both large and small, are noisy, crowded and stressful. As global air traffic continues to grow—the International Air Traffic Association estimates the current volume will double by 2035—and airports everywhere will be feeling the impact.

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Crowded terminals and runways, longer queues and wait times and increased number of frustrated passengers seems like an impending doom for the travel business.

Airport operators who cannot expand their infrastructures due to environmental issues, space restrictions or a lack of capital must find new approaches to be more efficient and responsive to passenger needs.

Technology and access to accurate data can greatly improve an airport’s operational efficiency to improve passenger experience, which is the need of the hour with millions of travellers taking to air.

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International hubs such as Dubai, Changi and Helsinki are concentrating on how to deliver high quality experience to travellers using their services.

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Massive airport expansions and an emphasis on creating Zen-like atmospheres, or designing more open spaces and adding  facilities is fine but to deliver the best possible passenger experience involves synchronizing with multiple operators by getting ahead of issues, before they become disruptions.

A Total Airport Management approach is needed by using real-time data to detect, and even predict, passenger needs hours in advance, and deal with emerging situations before they become problems.

A holistic view of the passenger, that begins even before they leave their homes. Weather, road and rail conditions can impact their arrival times at the airport, while flight delays can change the departure times and could impact their onward journey. Knowing these factors beforehand and understanding passenger volume and activity helps airports optimize wait times and better coordinate the passenger experience.

Retail partners better anticipate foot traffic and revenues.

Using data on meteorological conditions, flight prioritization, runway traffic loads, aircraft turn-around times, and baggage and passenger operations mean reduced delays, unnecessary fuel burn, and cost savings for airlines.

Outside data sources, such as weather and traffic information, can be pulled in to support decision making (e.g. by anticipating flight delays due to rain, fog or likely storms airports can call in more staff to handle the unforeseen delays).

What passengers want from air travel is to get to their destinations on time with minimal inconvenience and stress.

To provide this experience for growing volumes of passengers, airports must forecast capacity demand years, seasons, months, weeks, days in advance, to be as prepared as possible.

Information regarding estimated wait times for security screenings, customs processing and baggage arrival should be used on airport displays to provide airport maps and show passengers how to get to where they need to go without unnecessary delay.

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As air travel increases, airports that lack the funding and/or space to expand their facilities must find ways to minimize disruptions and deliver exceptional service to passengers and airlines alike by adopting technology-driven capabilities that provide greater end-to-end visibility and planning across landside and airside operations.

When your customers only travel every now and then, their airport experience is a big deal. Your infrequent air travellers are often vacationers, and their experience forms an integral part of their overall vacation experience, setting the mood for the entire trip.

-M

 

 

 

 

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Biometrics :The Checkpoint of the future.

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If you have recently travelled from any airport in the world, you would have noticed an obvious change in the entire security and boarding process. I’m talking about Biometrics here.

During the past few months, it has become clearer than ever before that biometrics technology will be at the heart of the airport of tomorrow.

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A number of international airports, including the likes of Changi Airport, SingaporeKempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru and Hong Kong International Airport, have emerged as front-runners in Asia, with all three committing to major biometrics-related projects that will play a crucial role in shaping the passenger experience.

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And not just for the travellers, biometric solutions have begun revolutionizing the airport experience for all its stakeholders involved – airlines, airport operations, vendors, government, and law enforcement agencies.

Up until about five years ago, biometrics was what we used in our mobile devices. Remember using your fingerprints to unlock your phones?

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Well today biometrics and facial recognition is bent on creating a seamless digital transformation in the aviation environment. This will enable a paperless, biometric-enabled passenger journey from registration to boarding. Facial recognition technology will identify passengers as they move through the different airport touch points, removing the need to present boarding passes, travel documents or passports at every stage.

And the focus on making travellers safer and the customer experience more convenient throughout the aviation journey – everything from check-in, bag-checks and security to airport shopping is taking shape.

Security is, of course, of the utmost importance, and rightly so – given the times we live in today.

Airport Security Groups along with Customs and Border Protection personnel are working daily (and nightly) to keep our skies safe, which is why biometrics is so important to the security process.

Having the ability to instantly verify that documents are valid and to match the identity and confirmed reservation of the traveller ensures that only genuine passengers move towards the boarding gates on the other side of the security line.

Biometric security enhancements are more accurate at screening individuals as well as quicker to get the lines moving faster through security.

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With the ability to predict wait times, passengers are able to spend more time doing what they choose, from relaxing in the lounge, to visiting duty-free shops.

Big change cannot be driven solely by the technology alone. More collaboration among industry stakeholders is critical to the success of the digital revolution in commercial aviation, for a better customer experience, improved commerce, cost and time-savings, optimized security and smoother airport operations.

Next time you’re at the airport, think about how biometrics could be improving airport operations, and making your life more secure.

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s put the Heart in the Smart

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) to me is daunting. Every time I read and research about AI, I feel like I am entering a maze. I find myself getting pulled into the vortex deeper and deeper, with no way out. Yes, it scares me, but it also excites me at the same time.

AI is not something you can ignore. It is everywhere.

……When you download an app,

…..When you order stuff online,

….When you book your flights and hotels through web portals,

AI is there like a watchdog, keeping track of you through all the data you have entered. This post on AI will be just one of the many I will be writing about, considering the vast amount of work AI is doing through the various applications used within and about the Travel and Hospitality industry.

Thanks to the combination of enormous data stored on the expanding processes and applications of AI, and the ever up-and-coming technological capabilities, we are embarking on a journey where you can expect radical changes in how people get on and off planes, and how airlines get their planes in and out of airports.

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The travel industry has always been at the forefront of technology adoption, either through computerised reservation systems (CRS), online bookings, social media presence or direct messaging. And now with AI being at the helm of things you can expect a lot more personalised online interactions and marketing intelligence to revenue management and ticket pricing.

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For instance working through its core model of a digital travel booking website, AI is able to access and collect historical data about millions of fare searches going back several years and create a algorithm, capable of predicting the future price movements seasonal trends, predicting travel choices, manage in trip and post trip needs , special airlines offers and deals.

Today, a traveller has all the information he needs at the click of a button.  Travellers can plan where they want to go, compare options, weigh budgets and make bookings and cancellations.

At the airports, AI addresses more serious issues such as flight disruptions, baggage handling, complex embarkation and disembarkation processes or lost cargo consignments.

Airline travel requires repeated scrutiny of travel documents both at departure and arrivals by different sets of people. Facial recognition technology brings an end to the tiresome paper-bound processes. On my recent trip to Singapore the immigration at Changi Airport got over in a breeze thanks to facial recognition and bio-metrics.

With facial recognition, travelers can seamlessly move through airports, immigration, customs and board aircrafts without the need for having travel documents scrutinized at each step.

Most hotels and resorts rely heavily on delivering excellent customer service to build their reputation and AI technology makes this happen in a wide variety of different ways. For example, a robot concierge service is being offered at some hotels. The robot gives real-time recommendations for visit-worthy sites and attractions and answers customer queries on the spot. A robot can also offer tailor made recommendations and guarantee fast response times, in the absence of staff.

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Hotels and airlines have used AI to sort through customer feedback from surveys, reviews and online polls, in order to build a clearer picture of current opinion. Service Providers who redeem themselves after a bad experience almost always win back the customer trust and get repeat business.

In an industry where time is critical, and information is constantly changing, AI reduces the time taken to complete tasks while improving the accuracy of processes and outcomes.

Models such as Airbnb and Uber are proof of the successful usage of AI in travel and hospitality.

Having little or no human interaction may be the calling card of the future, but let’s not forget one thing here. We are beings with numerous emotions running through our veins. We may adapt to being ‘handled’ by a robot, but only so much. At the end of the day we would however love to see a smile and feel understood.

I believe that technology is just amazing, but let’s never forget to

“Put the heart in the smart”

If you think there are more revolutionary ways in which AI will transform the travel and hospitality industry, please share your views in the comments below. TIA

 

🙂  Madhavi

 

 

 

 

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