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Beacons Improving the Airport Experience

Posted by Denis Pasero, Product Commercialisation Manager on 26th October 2016

Air travel continues to grow even against the current backdrop of economic and environmental uncertainties. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which monitors global passenger traffic data, sees demand continue to grow in all regions, year on year. The load factor levels (the airlines’ ability to "fill seats“) continue to be at the highest level recorded. So with this continued increase in passenger traffic, more of a spotlight is being put on the airports as a key element in the passenger user experience.

Airports are looking at the passenger experience throughout the entire process from booking-in, all the way through to the baggage reclaim. There are some key areas where customer satisfaction can be most at risk – security screening and baggage reclaim being the main points of concern. Security screening is the number one stress for passengers with 36% of the negative emotions around travelling being associated with the security process according to SITA’s “The future Is Connected” report, 2016, representing over 90% of the world’s airline businesses. The aim is to reduce security waiting time and manage the staffing level at security to keep the passengers flowing through the security section. Airports are looking towards sensor technology to help them address these growing demands. The inclusion of a wide range of sensor beacons gives the airports visibility into the flow of passengers, where the potential bottlenecks are so that staffing levels can be planned for and adapted to minimise delays and ensure flow of passengers through key areas such as security.

The main challenge holding back the adoption of beacon technology in airports is not the functionality offered or the cost of the individual units but the cost of installation and maintenance. The cost of a beacon is now in the region of $10 however the estimated installation and maintenance cost is in the region of $300 according to research done by Forrester. Bringing down the cost of installation and maintenance will enable greater adoption of beacons across airport terminals.

So anything that enables these costs to be reduced will help to increase the adoption of beacon technology across a wider range of airports. One of the key aspects of installation is being able to install beacons that do not need to feed into the wiring of the airport. Being able to provide self-recharging, battery-powered devices simplifies the skill level requirements of the person doing the installation. If you do not need to have a qualified electrician, then you can reduce the installation cost. Using a technology like Ilika’s Stereax battery technology will enable the beacons to use solid state batteries which will enable the battery to last the lifespan of the beacon itself without requiring replacement. This is especially important as the number of beacons increase. It enables a fit-and-forget aspect that will bring down the cost of the ongoing maintenance and will help to reduce the stresses related to airport travel.

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