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Self-service - the new normal?

Published on  08 March by Ilya Gutlin , President, Air Travel Solutions, SITA
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Singapore Changi Airport’s recently opened Terminal 4 offers a true start-to-end automated experience covering check-in, bag drop, immigration and boarding, meaning no human contact is required. This is real self-service at every step and a great example of IATA’s FAST (Fast and Seamless Travel) initiative in action.

Introducing self-service options across the journey offers many customer service and operational benefits. Passenger facilitation through the airport is faster, generating less friction at traditional contact points, freeing up airline and airport resources to provide more qualitative services.

Latest wave

Indeed, results from SITA’s IT Trends Insights research show that airlines and airports are forging ahead with self-service implementations spanning the journey – from booking and check-in to bag drop, boarding and border control – with more recent developments including intelligent baggage and self bag drop, along with biometric-enabled self-service.

At the forefront of current growth are pre-airport and baggage self-service, with most airlines and airports now providing self bag-tag and self bag-drop options.

Pre-airport self-service options taking hold and set to grow

Pre-airport self-service options taking hold and set to grow

 

Bag-tag printing & bag-drop lead the growth in self-service

Bag-tag printing & bag-drop lead the growth in self-service

 

Passenger adoption?

But while self-service options may now be the norm, what is the level of passenger adoption?

Taking check-in as an example, the trend (as shown in the IT Trends Insights and  SITA’s 2017 Passenger Survey) indicates face-to-face check-in accounts for almost half of check-ins.

This means the other half of check-ins are self-service based – such as apps, as well as check-in online or at kiosk. But in the last three years there’s been no major shift from agent check-in, although mobile app check-in has seen steady growth according to airlines.

So many passengers still prefer the reassurance of face-to-face contact, despite the array of self-service check-in options available.

Moving towards the NEXXT vision

There is an obvious need for providers, airlines and airports to do their homework to better understand the travelers who choose not to reap the benefits of self-service to make their journeys easier. For the passengers who do use IT across their journeys, it’s working so well that SITA’s IT Trends research shows that they are more satisfied at every step, from booking to bag collection, than those who don’t.

The joint vision of the IATA and ACI NEXTT initiative is that most processes will occur ‘off-airport’ in locations that best suit the passenger and activities which historically required a manual check will become digital processes. Clearly, increasing the proportion of passengers using self-service tech now will be key for this vision to become a reality.

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