CAPE TOWN – Airport and airline IT executives believe that the growing number of tech-savvy travellers will have the biggest impact on their digital plans over the next six years to 2025.
This is revealed in a new report published on Monday by SITA, the leading IT provider to the air transport industry.
The report, “2025: Air Travel for a Digital Age”, shows that by 2025, 68 percent of all passengers will be digital travellers and will expect to manage their travel in much the same way they do every other aspect of their daily lives – using their mobile phones.
This demographic shift has created digital travellers who are demanding more automation and hands-on control over each step of their journey. In particular, they expect to use their mobile phone to access services ranging from baggage location notifications to boarding and payments.
SITA chief executive Barbara Dalibard said the demographic shift brought with it the expectation to use technology everywhere – including during travel.
“This will have a profound impact on how passengers interact with airports and airlines by 2025. In fact, 83 percent of airport and airline IT leaders surveyed by SITA believe that this demographic shift will be the most important influence on their passenger solutions strategy by 2025,” she said.
South African carrier kulula.com is already in the process of reinventing the airport experience for its customers, with the implementation of Sabre’s new Digital Workspace solution.
Digital Workspace, Sabre’s first completely cloud-based solution, would enable airport agents to deliver a seamless and personalised airport experience to customers, the airline said in a statement on Monday.
It said this solution would equip agents with workflows that eliminated the traditional linear check-in procedure and improve agent productivity by up to 30 percent compared to current processes.
Joint chief executive of Comair, which operates kulula.com Wrenelle Stander said investing in new, digital technologies was crucial to the airline’s strategy, which centres around improving the travel experience.
“In today’s digital world, our customers expect a reimagined air travel experience, and Sabre’s digital technology will help us achieve our goal of becoming the most visionary and customer-centric carriers on the African continent,” said Stander.
European airline easyJet, is also on the tech shift offering Speak Now, a feature on its app, which enables customers to search for flights using voice recognition technology.
The intuitive system, powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, uses Dialogflow, Google Cloud's natural language understanding tool for building conversational experiences.
The feature will ask audible questions to determine the exact booking criteria customers require, making it easier to narrow down criteria such as destination, date and airports they want to fly from.
Head of digital experience at easyJet Daniel Young said: “We are constantly on the search for ways to improve the travel experience we offer our customers when flying with us and this new technology is a perfect example of that. As part of this, we are continually striving to make booking a flight more accessible for customers, especially those who are visually impaired, and Speak Now helps us achieve this objective.”