Airline passenger expectations will increasingly be led by their experiences in everyday life, and the air travel industry will be hit “very quick and hard” by the demand for seamless, connected and personalized journeys. However, control over the type of information disseminated must remain with the end user to avoid alienating less tech-savvy passengers as this transformation occurs.
These were just two of the points raised by members of Samsung’s European Enterprise Business Team when they addressed the recent Future Travel Experience (FTE) Europe conference in London.
“Connected travelers have certain expectations on how they will be able to interact with their environment,” says Samsung head of manufacturing, retail and transportation Asier Sinde. He lists the three key enablers to making a truly digital air passenger experience a reality as being “consumerization, convergence and connectivity”.
Sinde envisions a future in which airline passengers will be personally guided throughout their journeys via their own mobile devices, which will send them individual messages about their flight schedules, act as digital passports by using facial recognition technology, alert them to any itinerary changes, and all the bells and whistles in between.
Pointing to the hotel industry and likening it to the air travel industry in the not-too-distant future, Sinde says: “92% of hoteliers believe that by 2020 guests will expect their stay to be personalised around a set of choices they make before they arrive. Mobile technology is driving the new hotel experience.”
For airline passengers, these changes will include checking in and self-printing baggage tags at home, purchasing duty free items in advance and receiving notices of where and when to collect them, and being tracked by their mobile devices and personally targeted as they make their way through the airport.
But while such changes may be welcomed by many passengers, others may view them as over-complicating their journey. For this reason, Samsung’s European Enterprise chief technology officer, Andy Guile, stresses that “you’ve got to put control back in the end user’s hand”. Guile warns that “there’s a danger you can take technology too far” and risk losing valued personal interactions.
“There are always going to be people who just want a yellow sign that points to gate A10,” says Guile. “Transformation has to have a blend of traditional thinking that will eventually switch over time.”
Meanwhile, Samsung is also preparing to make a bigger mark in the IFE world, and is now actively advertising solutions. It holds a MOU with Boeing to develop new IFE solutions and enhance crew productivity.