Linking mobile apps and beacons will change travel for the better
Imagine this – you make it through airport security okay but you’re not looking forward to your cramped economy seat on the five hour flight. But as you approach your gate, your airline’s mobile app lets you know a platinum seat upgrade is now available.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Stephanie Lynn Trunzo, chief operating officer and chief digital officer at PointSource.
You secure the ticket and pre-order an in-flight meal through the app as well – maybe this flight won’t be so terrible after all.
With two hours left until departure, you stroll through the terminal and pass by a spa. Another alert pops up on your phone because you were prompted to install the airport app when you logged into the airport’s wifi — a massage appointment is available, so you book it.
Relaxed and already checked in, you leisurely board your flight and enjoy your pre-ordered meal. When you land, your car rental service is notified of your arrival and has your vehicle waiting.
This kind of travel scenario may seem too good to be true. However, the evolution of mobile apps and beacon technologies has made travel smarter. For example, mobile wallets already allow travelers to organize and access their boarding and payment information all in one place.
A place for everything
When airlines and hotels can understand where consumers are and how they’re behaving in real time, they can offer a more personalized, enjoyable experience.
It’s important to remember that beacon technologies are only one piece of the equation. While beacons may be widespread within a commercial location such as an airport or resort, nearby mobile devices only receive their signals when the consumer has downloaded the corresponding app.
It’s only when the app is utilizing beacon data that the possibility for smarter and more efficient travel is possible.
Beacons in air travel
Airports can use the extensive location information that beacons provide to calculate where the user is, combined with data about how much time they have before their flight departs, and offer suggestions or promotions based on what nearby dining or retail options they should consider before boarding.
Airports are a place of commerce, and all businesses within them — from restaurants to convenience stores — can incorporate location-based technology very similar to a mall to engage users and drive sales from the security checkpoint to their gate.
Airports can borrow heavily from the implementations being used in retail already to understand the possibilities of more intelligent location based user engagement.
Airline apps are also useful for tracking where a traveler is within the airport in order to check them in once they reach the correct terminal. This allows them to bypass long lines at the gate and reduce the stress of rushing to board. These apps can also utilize history and preferences to provide seat upgrades, in-flight meals, and other personalized offerings.
Travel beacons are useful even upon returning home. Airport beacons installed in parking lots communicate with mobile apps to remind travelers where their cars.
Personalization takes travel to the next level
Beyond making travel and vacation effortless, mobile apps and beacon technologies can also make the experience more personalized. Popular resort destinations can use a guest’s history or preference questionnaires and current location to predict what he or she might be interested in doing throughout the visit.
For example, if a consumer played golf during her last visit (or has indicated she’s interested in golf), a resort’s mobile app can alert her that a tee time has become available as she sits for breakfast in the nearby club. The same idea applies to other aspects of a guest’s stay, such as restaurant reservations, spas or tour groups.
In scenarios like these, resorts can embrace mobile and beacon technologies to help customers create and personalize their itinerary in real time.
To quickly see this application elsewhere, consider theme parks. As guests move around the park, beacons can monitor their locations and a mobile app can suggest particular activities based on where they are and activities that they’ve previously enjoyed. For instance, the app could notify a guest which rides nearest him have the shortest wait times, or how long it would take to reach a further-away attraction.
Not only does this personalize every guest’s experience, but it also allows the park to operate more efficiently by helping attendees make informed decisions.
To explore just how far mobile and beacon integration and personalization can stretch, imagine arriving to your room in some distant island resort. When making your reservation, you filled out a survey about your preferences for temperature, lighting, music, etc.
As your approach your door, beacons recognize you via the hotel’s app on your mobile device. You enter your room — it’s the perfect temperature, the lights are dimmed to your liking and your favorite playlist is playing in the background.
Suddenly, and with minimal effort, mobile apps and location technologies have combined with an internet of things (IoT) to make your experience more enjoyable.
In a world where consumers are increasingly accustomed to a personalized and seamless user experience, no service industry can afford to ignore the value of a mobile strategy that leverages beacon technologies. This is especially true of a luxury industry such as travel, where personalized VIP experiences are part of the core value proposition.
This integrated location-based strategy, from airport to hotel room, will enhance the traveler’s experience and pave the way for the future of the travel industry.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Stephanie Lynn Trunzo, chief operating office and chief digital officer at PointSource.
NB2: Image from SITA.
NB3: Related reading from Tnooz:
Looking back and ahead – airport tech and the passenger experience (Dec 2015)
VR and beacons tipped for mainstream adoption in 2016 (Oct 2015)
Special Nodes is the byline under which Tnooz publishes articles by guest authors from around the industry.