Self-service has revolutionized the way we travel. From the time Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) pioneered in the adoption of common use check-in kiosks in 2004, to our more recent embrace of self-service for automated border management, we have seen our airport, like many others across the world, transforming right before our eyes.
Not so long ago, we could hardly have imagined some of the self-service wizardry that has taken root in the world’s airports, spreading from the initial crop of check-in systems and reaching out to other steps along the travel chain.
Today, with self-tagging of baggage, self-service baggage drop, and now kiosks and gates for automated border and passport control, self-service has become truly embedded into the psyche of passengers as well as the operational processes of our airports.
There can be no doubt about the mark self-service has made on the industry – improving passenger flow, decreasing wait times and reducing infrastructure needs. Through the years, ADM can proudly lay claim to being at the forefront of this revolution.
A primary factor is passengers’ readiness to adopt self-service to control their own journeys, and there is every indication that they have an appetite for a lot more.
This has certainly been our experience at ADM. Self-service has triggered our passengers’ desires for greater control. Our own customer surveys bear this out, as do results from the newly released SITA Passenger IT Trends and Airline IT Trends Surveys 2015.
They show that passengers of all types increasingly expect technology through their travels to smoothen the process and deliver a better experience. They also show a correlation between types of passengers and their emotional responses to the technologies used throughout the travel chain (see 'Enjoy your trip?'). This is an important guide as we evolve our strategies to give passengers a menu of options that best suits them.
So what next? Even though self-service technologies have brought dramatic changes to airport operations and passenger experiences, on the whole it has been a quiet revolution. But at ADM, we believe the revolution has only just begun.
Now we are moving into a new wave focused on a more personalized travel experience closely linked to the passenger’s needs. This wave is exploiting technologies and innovations that rely on travelers being constantly connected, combining the power of smart mobile devices with self-service.
For instance, ADM has recently launched a new website with leading-edge technology and responsive design which enables optimal experience with all types of internet devices as well as easy access to a host of web-based services.
The driving forces are big data, business intelligence, analytics, proximity tools, wearables, near field communications and a handful of other technologies. They are capable of arming passengers and airport staff with contextual information relevant to each step along the journey, such as flight and gate changes, way-finding maps, shopping opportunities and much more.
So will this next wave of the revolution be as quiet? Perhaps not. What is important is that we work together across the air transport community to determine which technologies to adopt in our airports and how best to adopt them.
At ADM, we are committed to collaborating closely with community players to do this, favoring approaches that utilize pilots and partnerships to create smoother processes, a better passenger journey and a more efficient airport.
An example is our collaboration with ICAO, IATA and ACI, among others, on the Smart Security program. Focusing resources on risk assessment, the program will bring about more intelligent checkpoints that maintain tight security for flights while minimizing hassle.
Like the other emerging technologies and innovations, it once again depends on ubiquitous and resilient connectivity across the airport campus, for passengers, airlines and airports alike.
This connectivity will remain the lifeblood of self-service as it evolves further, giving passengers greater control and making our airport operations ever more effective. At ADM, we have no doubt we will continue to work with the community as we break new boundaries in self-service.