Rick Blatstein is the CEO and founder of innovative airport hospitality group OTG.
It is no secret that Covid-19 had a significant effect on the aviation industry. The future of air travel has changed as we know it. How can air travel become a more human experience while coping with the rising demand? The answer is continued innovation to ensure that a traveler’s experience is stress-free and enjoyable from the minute they check in. Below are my predictions on the future of airport travel post-Covid and beyond.
Post-pandemic, travelers are recognizing the importance of contactless technology. This is not only for ease of access and efficiency but also for their safety, as keeping a safe distance from others can help in lowering the chances of spreading any viruses.
Moving forward, I expect contactless check-in and mobile ordering post-security to gain popularity and become the norm across airports worldwide. For travelers who are experiencing a language barrier, contactless technology can help bridge that gap by translating to their native language. On the business side, it also helps operational efficiency: Lines and wait times for purchasing convenience items can be shortened, which increases the customer service satisfaction rate. The pandemic has really allowed the world to reenvision the way we use technology and the role it plays in our lives, specifically regarding how it benefits the travel and hospitality industry.
Increase In Business Travel/Bleisure
After surviving a global pandemic, connecting in person is more important than ever to travelers. I expect an increase in business travel, especially “bleisure” trips (a combination of business and leisure). Humans need connection, and while virtual meetings are here to stay, nothing can replace that quality in-person time when it comes to closing a business deal or building a closer bond with your colleagues.
As we start to see an uptick of in-person conferences, more employees are deciding to save money on a holiday by extending their business trips to allow for some relaxation and fun after a long week. Employees can even incorporate bringing the family in after the work event to enjoy some local sightseeing, activities or shopping experiences. If the children are coming along, this also saves on child care, which is a double bonus.
Increased Traffic And More Delays
At the peak of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of aviation employees across the globe lost their jobs. As restrictions start lifting, many airports across the globe are struggling to hire staff fast enough to meet the demand of the influx of travelers. However, we have been lucky in this department due to our exceptional hiring team and are fully staffed across the country.
In addition, we’re starting to see more and more airports across the globe go through major renovations to allow for an increase of traffic. However, planes are not being built fast enough due to supply chain issues, and we’re experiencing a pilot shortage in North America, which means more delays and additional time spent at the airports when flights get cancelled. Making the airport experience a humane one helps ensure that when these unexpected delays do occur, the extended time spent waiting is an enjoyable one.
Why does your holiday only need to start when you get to the hotel? Airport technology innovation is moving at a rapid pace. This means that, despite the growing pains, we will continue to see improvements in check-in technology, facial recognition software and mobile/app advancements year after year, which will make traveling not only easier but more pleasurable.