Perhaps the biggest challenge we’ve seen in the airport industry is in the overall travel experience. Rather than it being an enjoyable part of a vacation, people often view the airport as a barrier in their travels. The travel industry has been gradually embracing the digital revolution with the recent implementation of digital check-ins and mobile ticketing as an effort to win over customers. But once they arrive onsite, travelers are back to reality as they are faced with the challenge of finding a parking spot, long TSA wait times, lack of real-time information, etc. All fueling travelers gate anxiety as passengers get nervous as to how much time they actually have to get to their flight. Propelled to change how passengers view airports, airports are beginning to leverage mobile technology to enhance the travelers experience. In order to provide a better door-to-gate travel experience, here are a few areas of mobility to be on the lookout for over the next few years.
Nearly 60% of users will abandon an underperforming app after only 10 seconds. (Localytics) So if they aren’t getting the information they’re looking for, they’re going to go somewhere else. And as a result, travelers are using apps like Google Maps, FlightAware, and others to find information, rather than utilizing the airport applications and websites. The solution? Real-time information straight from the airport. Before even arriving onsite, they’ll soon be able to open an airport application and see exactly how long it will take to get from their current location, through security, to their gate and onto the plane. By offering real-time information an airport will be able to provide travelers with more information that they can’t get elsewhere – making them a one stop shop.
For example, let’s say you require onsite parking. Sensor technology will be able to provide real-time information on the number of available spaces, current rates, and even allow travelers to reserve a space before arriving at the airport, giving travelers control over their parking experience. By engaging travelers through the use of sensor technology (Bluetooth beacons, facial recognition, Wi-Fi tracking) via their mobile devices, airports will now be able to collect each traveler’s data and transform it into a positive airport experience. With airports now able to track people through TSA, in the taxi line, when their car is parked, travelers will know exactly how long it will take them to get from the car to the gate.
Interactive Terminal Maps
Once travelers make it through security, the next step is locating their gate. This is where the gate anxiety really starts to kick in. Currently airports primarily have static PDF terminal maps with direction through the entire airport. Why not use this time to interact more with the traveler? Interactive terminal maps can provide walking times, along with turn-by-turn directions, as well as, presenting the ability to sort the terminal based upon the interest of each specific traveler. For instance, let’s say the map knew a family was locating their gate, while providing the directions they need the map can also highlight restaurants with kid friendly menus or retail stores that have books for children on their route.
On-Demand Access to Amenities:
Airports have quickly becoming much more than just a transportation company. With so much retail, fine dining and entertainment options, it’s almost like going to the mall. Although there are many luxuries coming to airports, travelers are reluctant to enjoy them due to the preexisting gate anxiety. To reduce gate anxiety, airports are providing travelers on-demand access to their offerings. So, while sitting at the gate, passengers can access restaurant menus and with on-demand ordering and have the food delivered right to them – without ever leaving the gate.
Digital Signage and Displays
Airports are like miniature cities, filtering through thousands of people every single day. They constantly have to communicate ever changing information to these guests, such as flight schedules, canceled flights, baggage claim info, weather conditions, and so much more. As you may have guessed, conventional signs just aren’t enough anymore. They’re difficult to change and at times, may contain out dated information. At an airport, digital signage has the ability to change information relative to the overall experience. Displaying real-time information, instructions, directions, alerts, and notifications to passengers. Enabling them to be more reactive and even allow travelers to search for specific information on their own with the help of touch enabled screens.
Airport security has always been a hot topic in the airline industry. With terrorist activity and travel tensions in the spotlight, security is bound to be front and center in the years to come. Passenger screening measures aren’t the only precautions needed in airports. Many unaccompanied minors and elderly fly each year, but how can we ensure they safely get to where they are headed? Rapid Situational Awareness tools.
Using mobility to track people through the airport, with real-time monitoring and response. If an unaccompanied minor is flying across the country to visit grandma, you’ll be notified on their whereabouts within the airport. When they arrive at their gate, the status of their flight and most importantly, if they go out of a certain area. By geofencing their location, parents and airport personnel will have the ability to receive real-time notifications to address potential problems well before they have an opportunity to take place.
32% of decision makers say integration with backend systems is a major challenge. (Symantec) It’s not that airports are reluctant to propose change, but with the current legacy infrastructure systems airports have, it makes it difficult to do on their own. It’s a complex task. With 1000’s of specialized mobile solutions companies ranging from development tools and platforms to analytics and social integration, available to create synergies across terminals and business groups for mobile development. For example, there are a number of integration requirements necessary to get access to real-time TSA wait times.
At DMI, we’ve already begun implementing a number of these solutions to the existing legacy systems throughout the transportation industry, in trucking companies, train companies, taxi services (like Addison Lee) and one international hub, London Heathrow Airport, avoiding the task of building everything from scratch. By creating an interactive mobile application, DMI has been able to improve the passenger journey from start to finish; from allowing customers to book a ride from any device to real-time flight information, transportation and directions with airport guides and travel notifications.
Imagine what would happen if these solutions were to go global, the possibilities for the future of the travel industry become endless.
Director of Business Development, BMCX