Running business processes, managing branch operations, and collaborating with different clients often involves traveling to different places. Do you travel extensively for your business? Do you find yourself on a plane every other week? If so, becoming acquainted with the latest developments in airline travel will prove advantageous for you.
Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the travel industry, and airlines have been quick to incorporate it into their digital marketing travel strategies. Statistics compiled in 2016 on the U.S. commercial airline system show that:
- The commercial airline industry generated $168.2 billion in operating revenue.
- Ticket fares made up 74.5 percent or $125.2 billion of operating revenue.
- Transportation made up approximately 2.7 percent of the national GDP.
As airlines put together travel marketing plans to better connect with their customers, AI will soon be planning your business trips, streamlining in-house operations, and delivering predictions on digital marketing features. The following are some of the most popular applications of artificial intelligence in the U.S. commercial airline industry.
American Airlines hosts an annual app development competition known as HackWars, to look for fresh ideas on improving its digital marketing tactics in the travel industry. This year, the airline focused its theme around artificial intelligence, drone technology, augmented and virtual reality. The event drew over 700 IT professionals, developers and designers. The top position went to Team Avatar, who came up with an app that would allow passengers to measure the size of their baggage in advance.
In 2008, American Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to introduce checked baggage fees. Since then, most passengers became familiar with the irksome dilemma of finding out that their luggage weighs too much, and having to pay luggage fees. Last year alone, airlines around the world raked in $40.5 billion in ancillary fees and charges.
Often, passengers do not notice the dimensions of their luggage, or how much they have packed. When airport personnel point it out, there is no other option for passengers except to pay the last minute, often exorbitant excess baggage fees. Team Avatar recognized this and created a smart digital marketing travel product to avoid such delays and frustrations. The app analyzes baggage before reaching the airport, as well as provides passengers with the option of prepaying any fees associated with extra luggage.
Hands-Free Check In
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), more than 3.6 billion people traveled via flight in 2016. That’s 800 million more than the number of passengers in 2011. With new security measures and check-in procedures, passengers are increasingly flustered and anxious about flying.
United Airlines has launched United Skill with Amazon Alexa, a digital travel marketing plan that can affect the more than 400,000 passengers the airline flies every day. Amazon Alexa allows users to interact with devices in their environment using voice commands. Now passengers can use any Alexa-enabled device such as the Amazon Echo Dot or Amazon Echo, with the simple command, “Alexa, ask United…”
The “United Skill for Alexa” is accessible on the Amazon Alexa app. In order to activate Alexa on a device, passengers have to connect their MileagePlus® account. By stating the command, “Alexa, ask United to check me in”, passengers can complete their check in for a U.S. domestic flight. Passengers can also look up the status of their flight, as well as search amenities like entertainment, WiFi and business-friendly perks. They can relax and focus on last-minute travel preparations, instead of worrying about their flight.
The airline industry has often received flak for its lackluster customer service. Since competing airlines often fall into a similar price range, flight service and passenger experience is an important factor for digital travel marketing. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global chatbot market is estimated to be $1.23 billion by 2025. Within that market, 45 percent of users prefer chatbots as the primary medium of communication for customer service.
Chatbots or “travel bots” as they are referred to in the travel industry, is a digital marketing strategy aimed at providing automated customer service on a company website. Functioning almost like virtual assistants, the chatbots converse with customers and guide them through any travel-related issues.
Visitors to the United Airlines website can have their travel questions answered by AutoPilot, United’s newest chatbot assistant. From looking up flight prices and baggage carousel information, to departure gates and arrival times, AutoPilot provides guidance on a number of frequently asked questions.
Delta Airlines has teamed up with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to test new biometric exit immigration procedures. Using advanced facial recognition technology in combination with Delta ticketing information, CBP will have superior capabilities to confirm passenger identity.
The new technology known as Seamless Totem was unveiled by technology provider Vision-Box. It was part of a digital travel marketing scheme tested out in two airports. In New York’s JFK International Airport, the eGate would open for individual passengers to walk through after successful screening. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, a self-contained unit would capture and verify a passenger’s identity before allowing him or her to continue boarding.
In the words of Vision-Box CEO, Miguel Leitmann,
“Vision-Box is excited to partner with Delta to provide an innovative self-boarding e-Gate system that combines airline boarding and biometric exit capture capabilities in a single process.”
For more information on the latest developments in artificial intelligence, smart technology, and business travel, please contact us.