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Airlines Need To Stop Watching Trends and Get Smart

Aug 4, 2014

The technology that powers smartphones and tablets has changed the way we do business – and by default, the customer experience, as well. As mobile technology continues to develop, wearables have become the next logical trend; and with these advancements, comes a new phase of convenience for the travel consumer.

At The Wearable Tech Expo in New York last month, analysts, speculators and consumers alike explored this topic; coming to the collective conclusion that the future of wearables is bright – so bright, that the sector’s value is estimated to be at least $50 billion very soon. And with wearables’ ability to help airlines cut operational costs, collect personal preference data for passengers and communicate better with consumers – there’s even a translation app that overcomes employee-passenger language barriers – wearable tech is expected to revolutionize the airline and travel sector and offer a more personalized customer experience for all passengers in the coming year.

Here are a few examples of how some airlines are currently testing the impact of wearables in the travel space:

Virgin Atlantic teams up with SITA to evaluate the effect of wearables on the customer experience

In a recent SITA study done with Virgin Atlantic, the airline’s Upper Class Wing Concierge staff experimented with Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch to test the impact of wearable technology on high-value passengers. With Google Glass’ seemingly never-ending novelty, its ability to offer real-time language translation and store pre-registered data on customers’ dietary and beverage preferences has analysts hooked. Using this technology, airlines could become proactive about passenger needs, allowing flight attendants to pre-empt anxiety before they even have a chance to become dissatisfied. And while Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson is no stranger to innovative customer-centric campaigns, this SITA study focused on ways to use advanced technology to enhance the passenger experience throughout the travel journey.

Japan Airlines brings wearables to the airport experience

After further experimentation, experts determined that wearable technology could impact customers not just during their journey – but in the airport, as well. By trialing the use of smart watches and iBeacons to streamline daily operations inside an airport environment, Japan Airlines has determined that – through the use of geo-fencing and BLE – airline administrators can actually pinpoint which employees are closest to airport or customer service issues that need immediate resolution. While other airlines have done similar research, few have tackled wearable technology to the extent of Japan Airlines. The hope? By using wearables to troubleshoot problems in airports more efficiently, passengers will be able to enjoy a travel experience that promises less delays and obstacles before they even get on the plane.

Copenhagen Airport gives entire staff Google Glass

As the first airport to test Google Glass across its entire staff, Copenhagen Airport was able to create an environment where – for the first time in history – airport employees had their hands free to assist customers. While reviews were no doubt more positive among younger passengers, one thing was for sure – There would finally be no more juggling of boarding passes, IDs, duty rosters and more.

When it comes down to it, wearable technology is undoubtedly going to be a game changer for airlines; and the real trendsetters in the industry will be the brands who adapt the earliest. Airlines need to find out how they can harness technological innovations like these to stand out from their competition – always doing whatever it takes to give their passengers the best travel experience possible.

What innovative ways have you seen travel and airline brands use wearable technology? Do you think wearables are “the next big thing” for the customer experience? 

Let us know in the comment section below or send a tweet to @thinkinkpr.

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