Fight airport turbulence with intelligent data capture
It looks like the Fasten Seatbelts sign has finally been extinguished and the worst turbulent conditions appear to be behind the airline industry as pandemic shutdowns and restrictions ease
With red zone limitations, vaccine passports, social distancing and uncertainties about passenger volume to overcome, it looked like the challenges were here to stay. In fact, a McKinsey report found that the Covid-19 pandemic has hemorrhaged $168 billion in economic losses for airlines in 2020. But there is hope as the leisure air travel market Now showing signs of recovery, and although slower, the lucrative business travel sector is also starting to come back.
As restrictions have eased across the world, the industry is working hard to restore trust, but also to meet new customer expectations for frictionless travel. To achieve this, jump-start growth and ensure continued profitability, air travel operators are looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage that captures more of the available market while minimizing their costs.
Technological innovations are at the heart of improving the efficiency and productivity of air operations in direct contact with customers. Automating processes on smart devices can improve the customer experience at every touchpoint, while actively reducing costs.
Winning the hearts of passengers
After two years of disruption, a smooth and frictionless journey is highly desirable for passengers, and delivering that experience sets an airline apart. Faced with unpredictable passenger volumes and changing security requirements – which, let’s be honest, can return at any time – airlines need solutions that are flexible and easy to implement.
Using smart data capture on mobile devices has many benefits. Unlike stationary scanners, it allows customer service agents to multitask anywhere in the airport. Airlines can automate processes such as check-in, security queues, lounge access, and baggage handling, delivering a modern, sleek feel from the first moment a passenger enters the terminal.
Compared to the old approach of using rugged devices in fixed stations, intelligent data capture on mobile devices offers significant benefits for customers and efficiencies for staff. Airport queues have been big news recently, but with staff equipped with smart mobile devices, waiting times can be reduced as they can patrol queues and scan coins. identity, passports and QR codes to speed up passenger check-in and provide a more personalized experience – accessing details about a passenger’s seat preferences or dietary requirements, for example.
Customer service agents using smart mobile devices can easily manage oversized bags presented at the gate and quickly check them into the hold. They can instantly issue vouchers to delayed or inconvenienced passengers by scanning cards or boarding codes, and provide smarter assistance in the event of lost baggage. Giving an agent the power of mobility during check-in ensures that passengers who need assistance can be served in their place, rather than having them come to a podium.
Reduce operational costs with multifunction devices
Bottom line management is essential, post-Covid. Replacing fixed hardware, like gate readers, with scan-enabled apps that work on mobile devices reduces total cost of ownership by 35% to 50%.
At the airport, efficiency is of the utmost importance. Freed from cumbersome equipment, agents can ensure faster boarding by avoiding costly delays. If a flight is transferred from one gate to another, it’s quick and easy for customer service agents to pick up their mobile devices and walk to the new gate.
Using intelligent data capture solutions enables airline operators to provide cost-effective self-service options to passengers. By integrating smart scanning into a customer app or website, passengers can check in online, confirm their COVID certification or vaccination status, check baggage and receive flight information. This reduces congestion in the airport, ensuring a smooth experience and reducing costs caused by delays or time-consuming procedures.
Employee onboarding and training is also improved when using a single smart device. The intuitive experience of a mobile app that employees are already familiar with facilitates acceptance and minimizes the training required.
Smart analytics also provides opportunities for more upsells and cross-sells. More passenger information is captured from the scans and is available instantly, while the transaction can be easily completed with a mobile POS.
Predict the unexpected
The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the sustainability of air transport operations. With customers flocking to airport gates in a post-pandemic world and the risk of sudden changes in travel rules, having a scalable, flexible and cost-effective solution is key to managing the unpredictable number of passengers in the months to come.
Scalability and flexibility are two important advantages of intelligent data capture. Each staff member equipped with a smart device can become a mobile agent providing services to passengers, making it easier to manage fluctuating passenger numbers and new operational demands. It eliminates the need for additional, custom-built, expensive equipment to deal with peaks in demand.
So, with the worst turmoil behind the industry, passenger experiences can now reach new heights. By integrating intelligent data capture technology, companies can create seamless and profitable travel experiences through reduced costs, increased efficiency and employees transformed into customer service superheroes.
About the Author
Christian Floerkemeier is CTO at Scandit. Scandit is the leader in intelligent data capture, empowering workers, customers and businesses by delivering actionable insights and automating end-to-end processes. Our Smart Data Capture platform enables smart devices, such as smartphones, drones, digital glasses and robots, to interact with physical objects by capturing data from barcodes, text, identifiers and objects with unparalleled speed, accuracy and intelligence.
Feature image: ©Wong-Yu-Liang