What to expect from the Surge of Self-Service Technology 

There has been a massive shift toward touchless technology since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and many travelers have grown to expect the enhanced efficiency that this tech provides. Along with the rise of millennials as the rapidly growing demographic in business travel, many of whom prefer the touchless experience over face-to-face, it’s likely automation is here to stay, and will only continue to expand. This article will go into how the service industry is not only speaking to newer generations through this technology, but creating efficiencies and new service approaches across the travel sector.

What Types of Touchless Technology are Currently being Used?

With no one standard guideline in place, many airports, hotels and other service providers have implemented their own technologies and processes to allow for contactless experiences.  Below is an overview of the newest forms of touchless technology that you are likely to experience. 

Air Travel

Health Monitoring:  Airports have been adding thermal cameras to monitor traveler temperature for the past year, and now airlines including Emirates are exploring options to expand the Self-Service Kiosk to monitor the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of any person using an airport touchpoint.  The system  will  automatically suspend the self-service check-in or bag drop process if a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential symptoms of illness.

Check In Efficiencies: Some airlines, such as American Airlines, are now offering a completely hands-free check in experience. This process allows passengers to check their bags via mobile devices, then scan their boarding passes at an airport kiosk, which will automatically print their bag tag for the traveler to attach before dropping their bag off.

Biometric technology and facial recognition. Many airlines, including Delta, are beginning to allow travelers to opt-in to using biometrics in order to check bags, pass through security and board planes. The biometric technology which has been Some airports are beginning to allow passengers to use biometrics for a much faster and more efficient way of quickly passing through customs and immigration as well.

Convenience through QR Codes: One of the most familiar technologies in our daily life is being expanded to travel to take advantage of the amount of data that each code can store and translate into immediately accessing information, zero wait time, avoiding lines and speeding up payment processes.  Whether it is to access safety information, order and pay for your meal, or get directions, QR codes will reduce the engagement with personnel and create an individual experience which benefits both the user, and the vendors through more data monitoring. 

 

Rail Travel

Rail operators are also exploring and exploring touchless technology through face recognition to speed up the check in process and utilizing touchless gates to scan QR Codes for entry. 

In Japan, railway stations are researching scanning mobile boarding information without the traveler having to take out their phone from their hand bag or pocket. 

 

Hospitality

Beyond Keyless Entry: The hospitality industry has been challenged with expanding the communication options for both safety and efficiency.  More hotels are expanding check-in and the keyless entry through mobile devices.  Hotels are expanding the mobile capabilities to make it easier for the traveler to contact the concierge, order room service and contact the front desk for housekeeping requests, while monitoring their satisfaction with the property.  While efficient for travelers, the hotels reap additional rewards by expanding traveler information through push notifications of paid services which can be explored and booked with a single keystroke.

Touchless Utilities: Hotels are prioritizing the installation of many touchless items such as motion-activated sinks, in-room voice assistants to control lights and thermostats, and the use of smart tvs to stream directly from the guest’s phone, without the need to touch a television remote. These are all features that, even as the pandemic begins to ease into the past, will still remain in place to provide guests with an easy and personalized experience.

 

Ground Transportation

The rental car industry has amped up its applications to allow for completely contact-free check out processes for drivers. Through mobile apps, drivers can scan their assigned cars, retrieve keys and pay for their rental, all without having to come face-to-face with the rental car staff. 

What does a Touchless Travel Future Look Like?

New technology advancements are quickly being created to expand the abilities of touchless technology, and could include widespread use of sanitation robots to keep airports clean, biometric digital passports, a completely contact-free check in experience from the entrance of the airport all the way to the gate, and more. These tech advancements lead to a streamlined process for all travelers, while re-envisioning individual service and support in the future.

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