Tech is the enabler of friction-free travel
Ask any corporate road warrior what makes a great trip these days and they’ll probably tell you that a good trip is any trip with no disruptions, delays or cancellations. It’s a trip that’s been seamless from planning to completion. Add a great hotel stay, business sale or successful client meeting into the mix and you’ve pretty much got the perfect business trip.
Today, the emphasis for those in the business of managing or supplying travel is now on making sure the end-to-end customer experience is as fluid as possible. And central to this is technology. From booking and approvals, take off to touchdown and the return home, there’s tech and tools at every touchpoint to make the travel experience faster, easier and more streamlined.
What are the key tech pieces enabling friction-free travel right now?
The rise of biometric technology, which uses unique physical characteristics such as fingerprints or facial recognition to verify identity, has been gradually enhancing the airport and hotel experience during the past five or so years. Biometric tech is speeding up the passenger processing experience, reducing wait times, and improving the overall satisfaction for travellers. Biometrics are also being used in the accommodation sector with many hotels now using facial recognition and fingerprint scanning to verify the identity of their guests. This not only improves security but also speeds up check-in and check-out processes.
Here's just few examples of airports that are using biometric technology to speed thing up:
Singapore Changi Airport utilises an advanced biometric identity system, whereby travellers can register their biometric data at self-service kiosks in the airport. This involves a facial scan and passport information. Once registered, travellers can use the biometric system for all subsequent airport processes. The system uses facial recognition technology to automate various processes, including check-in, bag drop, immigration, and boarding.
Hong Kong International Airport has been using biometric technology since 2018, with facial recognition being used for security clearance and boarding processes. The airport has also introduced a biometric-enabled self-service bag drop system, which uses facial recognition to verify the passenger's identity and reduce the time needed for baggage drop-off.
Orlando International Airport: MCO has been a leader in biometric technology adoption in the US, implementing a facial recognition system in 2018 to expedite the screening process for international travellers.
In 2020 Heathrow Airport launched a new biometric-enabled security screening system, which uses facial recognition to allow passengers to pass through security without showing their boarding pass or passport.
Biometric technology in New Zealand
Air New Zealand's introduction of biometric verification at the boarding gate is a significant step towards improving the airport experience for its customers. By allowing passengers to register their biometric information with Customs and Border Protection, they can easily verify their identity when boarding without the need to scan passports or boarding passes. This technology enhances security and ensures that the passenger's biometric information is secure and cannot be accessed by Air New Zealand or any other airline.
In addition to biometric verification, eGates are also available at New Zealand airports for passengers with ePassports from specific countries. These gates use biometrics to match the face on the ePassport with the passenger's face at the gate, storing the biometric information for three months before destroying it in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020. However, passengers must still complete a passenger arrival or departure card and obtain their boarding pass before using the eGates.
Future plans for Auckland Airport
Auckland Airport's plan to replace its almost 60-year-old domestic terminal with a new, integrated terminal is a major development project. The integration of the domestic and international terminals will enable the airport to better serve travellers and support airline aspirations for a low-carbon future. This expansion will bring domestic and international travel together under the same roof, creating a more efficient and convenient experience for travellers. The project is part of a circa $3.9 billion construction program, which is set to take place over the next five to six years, with the new terminal expected to open between 2028 and 2029.
All-in-one technology platforms
Companies want their travel to be managed and housed in a single omni-channel platform that’s consistent of service no matter which channel they use. One of the primary ways tech supports seamless, end-to-end travel is through multi-functional travel management applications like FCM Platform.
FCM Platform streamlines the entire travel process, from planning travel and booking flights and hotels, to facilitating virtual payments, alerting travellers, monitoring sustainability and tracking itineraries. By consolidating these functions in a single platform, you’ll no longer have to jump in and out of different platforms, and you can stay connected wherever you are.
“For travel bookers, FCM Platform provides a single point of access to effectively support and manage all travellers. They can see where and when their colleagues are travelling, be alerted to any disruptions or risks their travellers may be facing, keep their profiles updated and book on their behalf,” said Michel Rouse, Chief Product Officer at FCM.
By leveraging a range of tools and platforms, travel managers can reduce the friction and obstacles associated with corporate travel, while providing greater flexibility and convenience for their employees. From innovative travel management software, mobile apps to online booking and reporting platforms, and biometric tech, tech plays an increasingly critical role in facilitating the seamless travel experience we’re all looking for these days.