As we continue the emergence from lockdown and see international travel gradually begin to resume across the world, we’ve looked at what innovative new technologies are paving the way for safety, more hygienic and efficient travel. With personal safety the forefront of everyone’s minds, it’s comforting to know that the travel industry are coming up with pioneering tech to ensure the wellbeing of travellers.
Digital wallets, holding key identity and health information, are fast becoming the norm in travel. With travellers now able to securely store credentials required for risk assessments prior to travel and airport procedures, these wallets are perfect for minimising queuing, physical contact and risk at the airport.
IATA have recently released the concept of One ID. “One ID introduces an opportunity for the passenger to further streamline their journey with a document-free process based on identity management and biometric recognition” an IATA spokesperson commented. “Passengers will be able to identify themselves at each airport touchpoint through a simple biometric recognition. The objective is to achieve a truly interoperable system coordination between airports, airlines and governments”.
This technology will help eliminate repetitive processes, resulting in less queuing and ultimately a more seamless journey.
As we all become more conscious about social distancing, Delta have found a way to make real person queuing a thing of the past. With the aim of preventing too many people congregating in one place, Delta’s new virtual queuing technology allows travellers to be notified via their app when their seat is ready for boarding.
This new technology will not only help reduce the gate area queues and congestion, but will also make the boarding process more efficient. Delta have built this technology into their existing app to alleviate the need for multiple apps.
With biometrics already widely accepted and in use for identity verification, we are seeing more touchless technology now being tested. This includes touchless document scanning, voice commands and gesture control. These changes can be seen across both the airport and hotel industries.
We spoke with Hilton who told us that they have improved their already award-winning digital key technology for guests, who can now determine the amount of contact they prefer when they check-in. Guests can access their room via a digital key on their mobile device, available through the Hilton Honors app. It’s another great example of giving guests a contactless arrival experience in the hotel.
Abu Dhabi Airport have partnered with Meta Touch to introduce 53 touchless elevators around the airport, with the aim of preventing the spread of infection from interacting with elevator buttons. This is a world first and the airport’s investment in state-of-the-art technology is a result of their commitment to containing the spread of COVID-19. These innovative actions ensure that its airports and facilities remain safe and healthy environments for passengers, staff and visitors.
Changi Airport in Singapore have also implemented new technology and procedures to aid traveller safety, with the introduction of contactless kiosks for both check-in and baggage drop-off. This innovative system allows travellers to select options by pointing their finger close the screen without actually touching it. The airport has also upgraded their face and iris technology to replace fingerprint scanning, meaning a safer automated immigration experience.
Digital Health Passports
Digital health passports have been one of the many options explored by countries around the world to help us all travel abroad safely. The digital health passport is a web-platform which holds an individual’s health data and an overall status, including COVID-19 and other health considerations. This new technology will make it easier to identify those who may pose a risk of spreading COVID-19 when travelling both domestically and internationally.
The digital health passport was first tested in this month on a flight from the Canary Islands to Madrid. Travellers showed the smartphone app to certify that they are not infected with COVID-19. In future developments, the app will feature blockchain protocols which will ensure that false profiles cannot be created, or medical records manipulated.
Automated Retail and Mobile Ordering
London Heathrow are the leading the way when it comes to ensuring traveller are relaxed while using their airport. By working with several of their restaurants concessions, they’re developing new ways to pre-order food via the Heathrow smartphone app, ensuring travellers can still use their services, safely.
Meanwhile Munich Airport are trying to cut down on queues in their retail outlets by allowing travellers to pay for goods by scanning an electronic price tag at the shelf. This innovative move looks to eliminate waiting times at the cash register. To make the process even more streamlined, the customer will be directed to a website, rather than an app which would need downloading.
These five emerging technologies are all designed to get you back travelling safely and may define the new normal in business travel. Have you travelled recently and seen innovative, new technology at work? Why not get in touch? We’d love to hear about your experience…
To help you navigate the changes of business travel, we’ve created the brand-new Traveller Toolkit. This invaluable online resource is packed full of easy-to-use guides and checklists for every stage of every journey. We detail exactly what you need to know and do before, during and after your trip.
You’ll also find innovative and interactive virtual trips, which walk you through each step of being at the airport, on the train and in the hotel. You can even check the travel restrictions and health status of your destination with our comprehensive COVID-19 Country Tracker, updated five times daily to ensure you have the very latest information to help keep you and your travellers safe.
Travel is changing. But with common sense and a good TMC behind you, travellers should have the confidence to once again take to the skies. It’ll soon be business as (un)usual.