How will we travel in 2021?

Herve Mouyal

While the crisis has had a strong impact on the Travel market, the latter has taken advantage of this "lull" to rethink the way we travel. The year 2021 will begin the recovery while facing many challenges, including the evolution of the virus and various government directives. In airports, the keyword will be dematerialization.

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Contactless travel will be the order of the day, and airlines will have to adapt by speeding up their digitalization. For Sergio Colella, President of SITA Europe: "Several technologies will be at the service of this transition to participate in the recovery and ensure passenger security. Biometrics and mobile, as well as service automation, will enable the digitalization of border crossings and provide a better experience for travelers [...] With a combination of biometric and mobile solutions, passengers no longer need to touch a kiosk or surface, and manage their journey from their phone. The goal is to avoid contact at key points in the airport. This trend is expected to accelerate, especially since it can be done by leveraging existing infrastructures to find simple and effective solutions".

A 100% contactless route

In Mumbai, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport recently acquired 50 mobile kiosks developed by SITA to offer travelers a 100% contactless route to check-in for their flight. These mobile kiosks allow travelers to use their smartphones to interact with the kiosks at the airport. It is no longer necessary to touch each kiosk to check-in or access flight information. While the automation and digitization of processes and the passenger journey were already on the air industry's roadmap, the COVID-19 crisis has been a real project gas pedal and has caused many upheavals, particularly from a health point of view. "Until now, the air transport industry has focused on safety and security, mainly with regard to aircraft and security procedures. After 2020, will our industry add health as one of our key travel considerations? [...] That's why we are developing scalable solutions that will enable industry players to be better equipped in the future against potential new health crises," adds Sergio Colella.

Hoteliers too are undergoing a revolution and this crisis has led them to redefine "hospitality". At citizenM, the 100% "contactless" approach has become a priority as the epidemic advances. The group has thus accelerated the development of its new mobile application that allows, among other things, to check-in/out from a smartphone and use it as a room key. A route that will remain the norm in 2021.

Technology at the service of recovery

For example, one study found that 84% of respondents said that technology would give them the confidence to travel by addressing their concerns about social distancing and physical interaction, including making travel information available, tracking through digital identity, and developing mobile applications that provide real-time access to information about destination restrictions. Then, the ability to automate cleaning procedures and the deployment of contactless payment enhance this sense of security.

In particular, the group is working with Star Alliance to provide a contactless airport experience using biometrics. The objective: to equip all checkpoints with biometric recognition. The idea is to couple this technology with Traveler ID, a secure and open solution for exchanging and verifying identification data that connects a passenger's identifier to any online biometric portal during the various stages of travel.

In addition to Amadeus and Alliance, several other companies are working on the development of these future "Health Passport" solutions. In Israel, Pangea is considering the development of an immunity passport, in close collaboration with the State, to enable tourists to travel in airports around the world. This solution would allow governments to issue a biometric smart card to verify that the holder is not carrying the virus or is immune.

Within airports, the development of antigenic tests will also play a crucial role in the recovery and many infrastructures have already put them in place, such as Vienna International Airport. Before boarding, each passenger is invited to perform a test to detect COVID-19 with results in just 15 minutes.

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I have always needed to create and for the past 7 years I have been sharing my creativity by producing photo and video content for luxury hotels around the world as well as for brands. I don't like to stay in my comfort zone because I can get bored very quickly. I need to try new things because for each brand the speaking is different.

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