How COVID-19 will change the way you travel

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COVID -19 is like the monster that engulfed the entire world in its pandemic circle too fast. Most countries did not have time to even prepare for the basics, leave aside eventualities.

Besides targeting people’s health this pandemic has also devastated businesses around the globe leading to unprecedented job losses, closures of establishments and doom as far as economy goes – worst since the Great Depression of 1930s.

Every component of the Travel and Tourism industry, including air, rail,  ground transport  and hotels & restaurants are the most severely hit sectors globally, as the outbreak continues to take its toll.

What is now important is to try to plan ahead of the curve , to re-imagine and re-shape the new reality of travel.

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Social distancing – the new norm?

After this contagion has been contained, international travel may not be a top priority for the majority of the global population, partly out of fear (until a vaccine is found), and partly due to the collapse of the economy.

Airlines and airports will have to work together in tandem to bring back customer confidence, and to support a new way of travelling defined by social distancing and increased sanitization.

Although compulsory, this could be particularly challenging for smaller airports which tend to have large crowds of people due to relatively small spaces.

Managing large queues in typically congested areas such as check-in halls and security/immigration checkpoints poses an additional challenge.

Queue management will have to be enforced strictly which could ‘up your time taken door to door’ with longer pre check in times and longer wait at security and immigration.

Of course technology will have to take a leap forward and enable airports and airlines overcome the hurdles of this new reality; besides a lot of self discipline amongst travellers.

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Automation will become paramount

All elements of the industry will have to make swift progress to re-imagine, re-shape and re-invent travel.

A range of contactless, self-service technologies to screen the vital signs of passengers, and baggage drops will have to be implemented by majority of airports. And for this the demand for automation, robotics and biometrics, will only become stronger.

The implementation of biometric E-gates may somewhat cut queuing times in the future but getting a number of airports e-enabled could be a mammoth task as of now.

With a lot of people unlikely to be wanting to touch surfaces and interact with agents as little as possible, automating as many passenger processes as possible will be crucial.

Maybe scanners on the lines of CCTV and surveillance platforms could be adapted to spot passengers who are indicating potential illness symptoms.

And of course carrying a certificate of immunity along with other travel documents will become mandatory.

To take things really out of hand, so to speak, passengers may turn to using their own devices at every touch point – right from checking in and navigating through the terminal, to controlling In flight entertainment  creating a real opportunity for airlines to promote relevant ancillary services though their mobile apps.

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Reconsider flight schedules

Most airlines especially those who have quick turnarounds between flights will have to look at rescheduling their time table to ensure thorough sanitizing of the aircraft while on the ground/in transit.

Cabin decontamination will have to be given centre stage to reassure passengers and crew that the cabins are sanitized and healthy.

However, reduced turnaround time has always been a weapon for airlines to cut costs, and also to keep airports profitable, so this would certainly pose a big challenge to the industry.

Also in the immediate future airlines will also have to consider using “social distancing” within the aircraft. The “seat separating” approach in which every second seat in the aircraft would have to be left unoccupied.

This would present another financial blow to airlines. But looking at a different point of view here, giving passengers a vacant space could also provide a sort of “a new premium travel experience” since passengers are guaranteed of having an empty seat next to them.

Although this could have a positive passenger experience so to speak, will the airlines charge more in such case? …. and more importantly will the passengers be willing to pay more.

If industry veterans are to be believed it will take a year to 18 months to reach anywhere near pre-crisis traffic levels, and the industry may not record pre-COVID-19 traffic volumes again before the end of 2021.

But at the same time, it is important to remember that while this crisis has put immediate growth ambitions on hold; all stakeholders should use the real opportunity for meaningful innovation and transformation to be accelerated.

Ultimately, airports and airlines must take action now to help secure consumer confidence and ensure they are well placed when the demand for air travel inevitably returns; and also be future-ready!

ny9

 

 

-Madhavi

 

 

OS:FTE
OP: AirlineTrends;TravelDaily; GoogleNews

Airports of the Future.

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In the past few years there has been a massive thirst for travel, whether for business or leisure. It’s as if the entire world is taking to the skies.

Aviation, although only somewhat acknowledged, has always been a catalyst for economic growth, enabling people and businesses to reach a global marketplace for goods and services and to travel for work, leisure or education.

Air freight is essential to modern life, but it is in the movement of people (precious cargo) that airports have the greatest effect on economic development.

Which is why, across the globe, airports are under intense pressure to expand and renew their facilities, with modern IT enabled services.

Airports are expensive. Maintaining them requires huge amounts of cash inflow. In an economic climate where governments are increasingly cutting expenditure to reduce debt, government financing and full ownership of airports is not always a sustainable or a sufficient source of revenue, hence privatization of airports is a must with the fundamental motive of arranging finances to upgrade or expand airports. Large amounts of  capital investments is needed by airports not only to keep operations smooth, since most of the work must be completed without interrupting current airport operations, but also to enable airports to make money from their investments.

Two-fifths of airport revenues in evolved airports around the world, come from retail and food outlets, car parking, advertising and other such ancillary revenues.

To stay in business, airports need to keep passengers streaming through their departure gates and through their shops, restaurants and bars. Plane tickets may be getting cheaper , but one way or the other, we all end up paying more for bigger, better airports by way of taxes and surcharges.

Airports of the future: areas set for radical change.

Airports are changing fast, as the rise of new technologies and growing environmental constraints play a crucial role in shaping the future of aviation. Airports are anything but static environments. Internal and external pressures are forcing hubs around the world to evolve into advanced, sustainable complexes offering a service that goes beyond mere transportation. Every competing global hub today vies to offer an experience like no other; newer attractions are being marketed as ‘destination airports’ rather than a ‘transiting’ one.

Baggage reclaim areas repurposed to increase capacity.

Barring the fully automated airport terminals around the world, there are still a lot many airports that need to address the issue of baggage handling, especially in smaller airports which provide the last mile connectivity. The issues of missing/ stolen baggage often leads to angst and stress amongst passengers and airport staff, not to mention the financial damages.

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Changi Airport

Shorter security checks.

Checkpoint screening systems will eliminate longer queues and recurring causes of disruption and delays at border controls. Airports are considering using technologies that can scan liquids and other materials from inside bags. Using advanced software and detection algorithms and 3D volumetric imaging, it would mean that passengers would no longer have to take liquids or electronic devices out of their bags.

Improving public transport links.

Many airports are working alongside partners and stakeholders to reduce their carbon footprint, from departure halls to the airport apron by improving surface access and train links and promoting public transport over cars.

This much-needed collaborative effort from both the railways and aviation could lead to higher volumes of rail travellers, cheaper trips and, in the long term, fewer cars reaching the airport every day.

If this concept proves effective, it would mean that airports can resize and re-use car parks to meet the growing capacity demands.

Biometric Scanners.

As part of the check-in process passengers will be scanned for biometric identifiers like facial features, iris patterns and fingerprints to verify their identities. This information is shared with immigration and security officials to streamline the arrival and departure process.

This technology, already undergoing trial at Heathrow, Schiphol, and Changi airports, could be used to track passengers from arrival to departure. It’s faster – and more reliable – than checking passports manually.

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Customer service: the rise of robots.

In the coming decades, robots are likely to take over several customer-facing jobs currently held by airport staff, especially as airports grow overcrowded.

Technology is already replacing admin jobs at check-in desks, with most airlines encouraging customers to use their apps for check-in and many implementing self-service bag drops.

But as years go by, we will likely say goodbye to staff working at bars and restaurants and many other areas of the departure hall, leaving space for robots.

As airplanes are changing to becoming more fuel and environment efficient so must airports too. From check in to disembarking, airport innovation should focus on offering efficiency.

Travellers world over are always on the lookout for a memorable travelling experience before they have even boarded the planes.

-M

 

 

OS:APH.com;AirportTechnology.com
PC:Telegraph.CO.UK;INdesignLiveSingapore;The National

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.

Emerging Trends for Hospitality Industry - SoftwareSuggest

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

 

 

 

 

PC:Pixabay ;Techopedia;Airport Show