Cathay Pacific has a vision of ‘Fast Travel’ that will automate premium self-service technology for passengers. ‘Fast Travel’ includes functional airport areas such as check-ins, document scanning, flight re-booking, self-boarding, self-service bag drops and luggage recovery.
“We are determined to make Fast Travel a reality soon, and are rolling out a strategy to introduce more tech-enabled enhancements in airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport and other airports by 2020,” says Vivian Lo, Cathay Pacific Airports General Manager.
“We are planning self-service offerings at other airports from the fourth quarter of 2015, including self-service bag drops at various outports.”
Lo shares six trends influencing the airline’s implementation of tech-enabled enhancements at airports:
1. Time has become an expensive commodity
Consumers are hungry for fast, convenient service and companies that want to remain competitive need to look at ways in which their business allows its customers to help themselves to the service they offer. Regardless of the industry you operate in, self-service devices that reduce waiting time, are fast becoming synonymous with service excellence and preferential service providers.
2. The Next-generation Kiosk is here:
Consumers already experience touch-point automation with common-use self-service (CUSS) kiosks at the airports, however these only eliminate a single time-consuming aspect of a journey. Automated point of sale kiosks at movie theatres and primed computer cubicles at most banks across South Africa are other examples of a global trends in quick purchase or regular transactions. Self-service technology has evolved, with a shift away from single function self-service kiosks to a check-in podium that will be more user-friendly, and offer a fuller suite of functions. This technology will allow for passengers to travel efficiently, and for check-in staff to roam and dedicate assistance where it is most needed.
3. Consumer IQ has evolved into EQ
Consumers are savvy, they intuitively know how to assist themselves through their daily use of technology interfacing. Human interaction will only become necessary for trouble shooting and premium service seekers who prefer a tailored service approach. Cathay Pacific plans to further implement fully automated processes above and beyond a single touch point.
4. Traveller independence is on the rise:
‘Fast Travel’ allows for simplified check-in procedures that are intuitive and that alleviate bottle-neck queues, helping to shorten check-in time. Travellers will be able print their own boarding pass, tag their own bags, drop them off and enjoy a premium lounge experience before travelling, without a single human interface.
5. Pilot studies are the future – Project Ribbon
Project Ribbon explores the usage of permanent bag tags with magic ink displays, as well as home-printed bag tags to implement the ‘bags ready-to-go’ concept. Developments like Project Ribbon will shape the DIY nature of travel procedures and passenger control.
6. Smartphone applications
Cathay Pacific is working on creating applications that will help passengers find their way through airports and lounges via iBeacon, a smartphone transmitting system. Airline check-in staff will be completely mobile, and will be able to find passengers in need using the applications, allowing immediate service and a qualitative approach to guiding passengers.
“Our vision is to offer more personalised service through the smart use of technology,” says Lo. “Ultimately, we aim to offer our customers much more than a faceless online transaction – we want them to remember their travels with us as seamless, effortless and luxurious.”