The airport industry is experiencing an extremely buoyant period with passenger numbers rising, new routes being added and terminals expanding. The passenger experience continues to be the focal point of any development and technology is delivering solutions to ensure that with both physical and footfall growth, the passenger experience is being enhanced at the same rate.
Beacons are not a new technological development, but a growing trend delivering innovative opportunities. A beacon is essentially a small transmitter which can broadcast a signal when a smartphone or other ‘listening’ device is nearby. Airports are starting to integrate beacons across various points within a terminal to communicate directly with passengers with flight updates, retail promotions and deliver wayfinding technology.
Wayfinding apps guide passengers, making it easy to navigate a terminal, find their gates and select retailers or brands to visit. As airports are expanding and building new terminals, wayfinding technology is ensuring that no matter the size – or if a passenger is visiting for the first time – they can easily find their way through the airport and to their gate stress-free.
Last year, Gatwick airport installed 2,000 indoor navigation beacons which enable augmented reality wayfinding with intuitive maps accessible through their passenger app: ‘App App and Away’. The app also provides personalised, real-time flight updates, gate information, check-in and security queue times.
The information available to passengers will reduce wait-time, remove the need to continuously check the board, and ensure promotions retailers are running are visible. Airport retailers can send special offers to passengers as they are approaching the store, allowing them to attract the footfall in-store, making the units much more desirable to lease. For passengers, it means they have a full awareness of the airport’s offering, so they can deploy their limited time wisely before boarding.
Local transport companies can also utilise beacons and send updates on departure times so passengers understand the wait-time ahead of them. They will know if they can have a browse around the arrival’s terminal, grab some lunch or if they need to head straight for the bus/train. Information sent directly to passengers makes their experience much more efficient and enjoyable.
Digital is transforming airports with robotics, self-check-in, advanced security and wayfinding, among many other developments, truly renovating the passenger experience!