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#PaxEx Podcast: Self-Serve Functionality and Robot Personality


Welcome to Episode 30 of the #PaxEx Podcast. Our guest for this episode is Nigel Pickford, who serves as director of marketing operations and market insight for SITA, a multi-national IT company to the air transport industry.

SITA has made a number of interesting findings around its ‘passenger persona’ work, learning that the majority of travelers identify as “careful planners” who book early, do plenty of research, double-check itineraries and work very hard to avoid problems during the travel experience. But other groups have emerged, including “pampered” travelers, “open minded adventurers” and “independent and hyper-connected” passengers, who as their name suggests, must be connected across their journey. Nigel explains why understanding passenger personas is key to understanding how airport self-service and mobile technology will evolve.

Speaking of self-service, SITA has acquired an innovative automated luggage drop-off firm called Type22, which we’ve profiled on RGN and which the firm believes will position it to become the leader in the space. Nigel tells us what the queue-busting Type22 brings to the table, and why the success of any airport bag drop technology is about making the system usable for all types of passengers.

Co-hosts Max Flight and Mary Kirby also talk to Nigel about Schiphol Airport’s plan to test a new robot named Spencer, which will help passengers find their way around the facility. And Nigel makes a case for why there is a role for robots in the airport of the future. But are we getting to a point where passengers won’t be able to interact with humans? SITA’s studies have found that people are receptive to doing things themselves when they have the technology in the palm of their hands. “We’re at a tipping point,” suggests Nigel, where “people are giving up interacting with agents to do it themselves on their mobile phones”.