innovation in the air (part 3 of 3)

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know where you want to go with location-based services

This is the third of three posts based on an interview with Orange Business Services’ Thierry Hayes, head of the SITA-Orange Common Solutions Team, and Muriel de Beler, Manager of the Joint Innovation Program. See part 1 here and part 2 here.

How many times have you arrived in a different country and needed an automatic teller machine (ATM) before you can hire a taxi or buy a snack, much less find a place within the airport where you can grab a snack? Location-based services will give travelers instant access to any type of resources available within the airport, including information on their departure gate, the location of a power supply for charging their iPad, shopping areas, places to get a bite to eat, baggage claim or an ATM.

According to Muriel, while nothing compares to the very good performance of outdoor global positioning systems, “WiFi RSSI” gives accurate results for an indoor area that is well covered by WiFi access points. It does require careful deployment of access points and fingerprinting of the WiFi signal to ensure accuracy. Trials of location-based services have already been done at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in the United States.

Airports can also use geolocation to create business intelligence about passenger flow movements through the airport, including retail and security areas. Individuals’ privacy is maintained by only collecting this information anonymously. 

However, if the traveler is willing to subscribe to a specific application from the airline where he will be geolocated, airlines would also be able to use the information to know where their passengers are to ensure they arrive at the boarding gate on time. This would help airlines avoid delaying take-off to remove a bag because they can’t find a particular passenger.

more innovative projects for better travel experiences

Thierry tells me that other projects are in the works, too; I’ve listed three below:

  • In-flight entertainment would bring different types of entertainment to passengers’ own devices (eg, iPad) through a multimedia server on board the aircraft, or on a tablet rented by the airline. SITA and Orange are looking at the best options for content provisioning and distribution, including games and entertainment.
  • Social CRM would offer an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) platform that combines an airline's traditional CRM system with commonly used social platforms. This would enable travelers to access real-time customer support from any type of device, including smartphones. The airline would benefit from rich public data from social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc) fed into the airline’s contact center platform to deliver better, faster and more proactive support.
  • Baggage tracking would give passengers the possibility of tracking their baggage in near real-time. While the vast majority (99.1%, in fact) of bags do arrive with their owners, a misplaced bag can wreak havoc on a traveler’s plans.

what do you think? share your two cents on air travel with the IATA

As you can see, air travel is going to get easier, thanks to innovative services enabled by new technologies. What other services do you foresee, or hope to see, during your air travel journeys in the coming years?

It just so happens that IATA is conducting a passenger air travel survey related to many of these new services. IATA is a trade body that represents, leads and serves the airline industry; it ensures that people and goods can move around the global airline network as easily as if they were on a single airline in a single country.

IATA is currently looking for feedback and insights on the needs, preferences and concerns of air travelers globally. The survey takes just 20 minutes, and, in addition to sharing what you expect as a traveler, you'll have the chance to win flight tickets!

Katie DeTitta

I've spent more than 17 years in global telecommunications, and was formerly responsible for international social media activities at Orange Business Services. I enjoy making technology accessible to non-techies and I'm a strong supporter of flexible working.