To win in the highly competitive travel industry, companies increasingly rely on providing convenient and personalized shopping experiences for consumers. Airlines, airports and even retailers in the terminals are using location-aware technologies like iBeacon and, soon, Apple’s latest generation of smart gadgets to give travelers the simple and personal mobile shopping experiences they want.
Here’s a look at a few new technologies marketers in the travel industry have up their sleeves — and how consumers could benefit:
Airlines aren’t the only businesses competing for customers. In some ways, airports are leading technology adoption in the travel industry. In an effort to woo airlines (and their paying customers) with a better experience, airport IT departments are now using Apple’s iBeacon to cut wait times at the security line, help customers remember where they parked and provide personalized offers and coupons for airport retailers once travelers make it through security.
Helsinki Airport uses iBeacons to track travelers’ movement from the moment they park until their plane takes off. It’s all part of an effort to better understand congestion during peak times, Jarno Putta, CIO at Finavia Corporation, the company that manages the Helsinki Airport, tells CNN.
The payoff for travelers — at least for those who opt-in to the program — is they can receive pre-departure updates about security wait times, flight status and required security documents. What’s more, travelers can receive personalized offers when they walk by participating airport retailers. Marketers are reaching customers in a new personalized way when they travel, whether it's by offering a hungry traveler a coupon at the airport food court or a discount coupon for a last-minute gift for the kids.
Earlier this month, Apple introduced its next-generation smartphones (iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus), a new operating system (iOS 8) and Apple Watch, among other products.
The newest addition to Apple’s lineup, Apple Watch, could benefit both travelers and modern marketers who want to reach them with targeted, personalized messages on their wrist. But the biggest news for marketers could be Apple’s new mobile payment service, Apple Pay, and the company’s updated iOS 8 operating system.
Apple Pay uses near-field communication (NFC) technology that relies on WiFi, instead of iBeacons that use bluetooth. NFC terminals already exist in some relation locations, but experts predict that Apple’s endorsement of NFC might be enough to push consumers and retailers alike over the adoption hump.
“Apple’s entry essentially expedites the ecosystem’s development, which was ripe for disruption,” Jayanth Kolla, partner at telecommunications consulting firm Convergence Catalyst, tells the International Business Times.
While NFC technology could simplify the payment piece of the puzzle, iOS 8 includes updates that will enhance the product discovery experience, too. For starters, iBeacon is even more location-aware in iOS 8, according to AppleInsider. That’s good news for marketers eager to reach customers with personalized offers.
What’s more, Apple’s new device lineup makes it easier for consumers to redeem coupons and other targeted offers while shopping in the store, using Touch ID and biometric authentication. The in-store mobile commerce experience is a big opportunity for retailers — and it’s expected to grow, partly because of Apple’s effect on mobile behavior. U.S. consumers spent $1.8 billion on in-store mobile transactions in 2013, according to a BI Intelligence survey, and that figure is expected to reach $190 billion by 2018.
These latest technologies bring marketers closer to consumers and enable more enjoyable, personal shopping experiences — whether in-store or in-terminal.