Contactless technology isn’t a new concept. In the last decade we’ve witnessed a steady increase in its use across various sectors. However, it was only in 2020 that touchless technology fully exploded when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
With the need to improve safety and eliminate the need for employees and customers to touch products, equipment and surfaces, every industry suddenly realised the importance of touchless technology. This was especially true of the airport industry, where it went from being a luxury to a necessity to improve passenger safety and restore people’s confidence in returning to the airport. Moreover, with a need to limit crowd gatherings and ensure social distancing, the benefits of virtual queuing at the airport are now more apparent.
Now that the worst is over (or so we hope) and we head towards recovery, you might be interested to hear that the benefits of seamless airport technology like touchless systems and virtual queuing stretch far beyond hygiene, health and safety. Here we will look at all the benefits of virtual queuing and contactless airport technology and how you can integrate them to future-proof your operations.
Contactless technology refers to any device you can operate without needing physical touch, and you might be surprised to hear it’s been around for decades. From automatic doors to toilet flushes, tap faucets and hand dryers, you likely interact with some of the ‘original’ touchless technology daily.
More recently, we have seen developments in contactless technology, such as video games that use sensor-based gesture recognition interfaces, near-field communication used for contactless card payments and voice-activated personal assistants on our mobile phones.
We’ve also seen an increase in seamless airport technology, such as biometrics, QR codes and virtual queuing technology.
Biometrics scan and measure a person’s physical characteristics to verify their identity. QR codes work like barcodes and can be scanned with a smartphone to complete a task, such as visiting an airport ecommerce website, downloading an app or contacting customer support. And finally, virtual queuing technology eliminates the need to queue at any touch point in the airport physically. Instead, it’s all done virtually by mobile.
First and foremost, contactless airport technology will improve safety for both passengers and employees. It eliminates the need to touch surfaces and equipment, reducing the risk of contamination.
However, it also has cost benefits. As we’re sure you’re aware, airports are under increased pressure to keep costs to a minimum. At the International Airport Review Online Summit, Anurag Shandiyla, Head of Airport Operations at Noida International Airport, said the pandemic had made airports more ‘cost conscious’ and provided an opportunity to ‘reduce the costs that are not adding to productivity or efficiency.’
Implementing seamless airport technology, like Contactless Fast Track, where passengers journey through the airport using e-tickets and biometrics, reduces the need for staff positioned at each checkpoint to carry out verifications. What’s more, with Rezcomm’s Contactless Customer Service, airports can also eliminate the need for customer support desks. It’s a great way to save on staff costs while reducing face-to-face contact.
Along with reducing costs, another top priority for airports post-pandemic is increasing efficiency. This was highlighted by Lee Hock Lye, Director and Head of Airport Operations at Changi Airports International, who at the IAR Online Summit said his airport was “looking at how to reduce the travel friction, meaning the pain [points] for airlines and the passengers passing through.”
Another one of the benefits of seamless airport technology like Contactless Fast Track and biometrics is that they speed up the passenger journey. A quick, streamlined, stress-free journey through the airport creates a more positive customer experience. This means passengers will be more likely to spend money with your airport and recommend it to others.
It’s likely you’ve heard of virtual queuing technology, but just in case, its primary function is to enable people to book a slot via a website, mobile app, or similar. Instead of joining a physical line, they queue virtually. When their time is up, they’re notified via mobile and complete whatever action it is they need to take.
You may be interested to hear that virtual queuing technology can be used virtually anywhere in the airport. From check-in to security, airport restaurants to washroom facilities, if you want to stop people forming physical lines, virtual queuing is the way to go.
The health benefits are obvious. By enabling passengers to queue virtually, you limit the need for close contact and, therefore, help to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
But that’s not the only way virtual queuing will improve the airport experience. Another one of the benefits of digital technology like virtual queuing is that it increases efficiency and helps to manage passenger flow. This limits the need for additional staff, helping to keep on top of airport costs, and also contributes to a more positive passenger experience.
Interestingly, there is a direct link between queuing and passenger spend. As highlighted in our article ‘How Airport Digital Transformation improves passenger satisfaction, efficiency and revenues,’ reducing the time passengers spend queuing at the airport leads to an increase in non-aeronautical revenue. A happy customer that hasn’t had to stand in line, not only has more dwell time at the airport to make use of, but is also likely to be in a much happier mood. And we all know happy customers spend more money.
Now that you know the benefits of contactless technology and virtual queuing at the airport, here are some ways to implement it.
Many airports already offer contactless check-in by enabling passengers to perform it online. At the IAR Online Summit, Lee Hock Lye explained that Changi Airports International utilised online check-in during the pandemic and would continue to do so post-pandemic. “In terms of the arrival and immigration process, it’s more touchless in a sense that you get your clearances through your app before you can arrive in Singapore,” he said.
You can also implement touchless technology like biometrics at each airport checkpoint to prevent passengers’ passports and documentation from needing to be manually checked repeatedly. However, as Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport, pointed out at the IAR Online Summit, airports need to work closely with other stakeholders for this to work. “One area we’re looking to improve is cross-functional data links for check-in security and boarding. We will have to work together as an industry in the interest of the passenger,” he said.
We’ve already touched on the fact that you can implement virtual queuing technology anywhere in the airport. So, why not use it to speed up check-in and security? With Rezcomm’s Queueless Journey module, passengers can pre-book a time of arrival anywhere queues typically exist and benefit from a fully contactless experience using e-tickets on their mobile devices.
Pre-order retail & food and beverage
Improve the efficiency of your airport retail and food and beverage operations while offering a safer shopping experience for passengers by providing pre-order options. Rezcomm can help you deliver this via your airport ecommerce website so passengers can pre-order their retail and food and beverage for contact-free click and collect at a designated point in your airport.
Scan-and-go with airport ecommerce
Additionally, you might want to consider scan-and-go style technology within your airport retail stores. Passengers can simply scan the items they want to buy with their smartphones and pay through your airport ecommerce website or app.
Digital customer support portal
Passengers will likely need extra support and reassurance post-pandemic, so your airport customer service must be in tip-top shape. However, we appreciate that staff shortages and cost cuts are making this a little more tricky for some airports. Our solution is Contactless Customer Service.
Eliminate the need for customer support desks at your venue. Instead, invite passengers to scan a QR code using their smartphones to access your digital support portal. Answer passengers’ FAQs with our AI chatbot or transfer them to a live chat or call with your remote customer service team. It ensures passengers get the information and support they need quickly and adds that extra layer of safety for your airport staff.
Contactless KPI & Feedback
This also works for gathering passenger feedback – again, something your airport should be doing to ensure passengers have a positive post-pandemic experience. With Rezcomm’s KPI & Feedback module, airports can collect real-time feedback from passengers at various touchpoints touch-free using QR code scanning. Incentivise passengers to leave feedback with loyalty points or vouchers to spend in your airport retail stores and collect their marketing permission in the process.