Biometrics, artificial intelligence and digital identity management come together to change travel
What will my next trip be like? This is a key question for travelers as the world reopens after COVID-19. Amadeus has shared a report where it reveals details about the operation in the reopening
Amid the reopening of operations in major destinations around the world, even the travelers who used to be frequent have many doubts about what their next trip will be like. Stefan Ropers, President of Strategic Growth Businesses at Amadeus, tells us about a number of technologies that come together at the right time to ensure a successful and safe experience. We share it below:
What will my next trip be like? This is a key question for travelers as the world reopens after COVID-19.
There is no easy answer. Travel is complex and depends on many factors: the rate at which different countries are reducing restrictions; government protocols and regulations; and new hygiene and safety standards.
However, as we have explained in previous blogs, a number of contactless technologies, such as biometrics, artificial intelligence and digital identity management come together at the right time to change the nature of our travels. These are not necessarily new innovations, but the pandemic has accelerated their adoption through the travel industry.
Innovation in search and reservation
All trips begin with the search and reserve phase. First, we must consider what kind of changes we can expect in the coming months. We are in a rapidly moving situation: travel restrictions will continue to change, frequently altered on short notice. Adding to the complexity is searching to find out which countries have changed their restrictions; what standards the hospitality industry has implemented; and what local regulations mean for social distancing.
This is where artificial intelligence can help. After obtaining the full consent of their customers, companies can work together by sharing information to better understand their customers' preferences; And by quickly obtaining and accessing data and information from travel providers, vendors, and destinations, search becomes more open and less linear, more intuitive, more personal, and more informative than ever.
We already see that traveler preferences change as a result of this pandemic. Searches have changed significantly, as people who used to do long-distance vacation searches can now search for vacation destinations that can be reached by car or short-haul flight. Our travel audience team is working together with Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) around the world to support them in using this kind of search data to better understand the demands of travelers.
Similarly, innovations in payment methods such as instant credit and installment payments can help instill greater confidence in travelers. Providing an option to spread the cost of a trip over a number of months reduces the need for the traveler to make large down payments. A survey we completed this year showed that this was immensely popular with young travelers, but also with two-thirds of all age categories. These innovations may become even more popular as travelers seek to reduce risk in their travel choices.
Contactless technology in the pre-trip phase
Within the concepts that redefine the industry, contactless travel is perhaps the most crucial. For many customers during the quarantine period, contactless technologies became the primary way goods and services were accessed, whether it was through contactless payments or by using a mobile app and staying safe at home.
However, while contactless retailing can help book a trip, particularly for retail travel agents, the greatest point of contact is on the trip itself, when arriving at or through the airport. The contactless concept can provide security for questionable travelers.
In fact, it can be applied even before the traveler arrives at the terminal. With cloud technology, both luggage and travelers can check in from home, hotel or office. And as long as social distance at airports is maintained, off-airport billing will be crucial to maintaining a smooth flow of passengers through the terminal.
Australian ground operator ICAO (Off Airport Check In Solutions) has been in operation for three years. The company uses Amadeus cloud technology to check passengers and manage luggage remotely in Australia and New Zealand. We can expect the rapid adoption of this technology around the world.
Contactless travel and the airport experience
Upon arrival at the terminal, automated devices and biometrics will help facilitate the traveler experience to reduce crowding, while low-contact interactions will minimize contact. I can see a scenario in the near future where a passenger simply walks through security, boarding gates, and the waiting room without the need to interact with physical interfaces or present identification.
At Amadeus, they understand the impact of the different biometric solutions they make. For example, in a pilot at Ljubljana Airport, they have reduced the average boarding time by 75% with their solution. By speeding up wait times and optimizing physical touchpoints through the airport, travelers can expect an easier, stress-free experience.
Contactless travel beyond the airport
Even on arrival, the contactless concept can be applied. We will surely see home lodges, hotels and attractions such as museums and amusement parks adopting these solutions with little contact. Digital room keys, pre-arrival emails, and facial recognition at the front desk are being explored in the hospitality industry. In fact, contactless technology was a key pillar in UNWTO's global guidelines to restart tourism. We must consider how these solutions can not only mitigate current risks, but also test the future travel industry for any similar challenges that arise.
When we think about the future of our trips, there are reasons for optimism. Because many of the measures that we will see to facilitate post-COVID-19 trips will also result in easier and stress-free experiences, something that we can all appreciate.