The NEXTT Vision: From concept to implementation – during and post COVID-19
This second webinar hosted by NEXTT looked further at how the industry is moving from concepts to implementation of ideas and taking advantage of the new imperative for healthy travel to accelerate innovations and process changes.
While the previous webinar held in October 2020 reconfirmed the validity of and the need for the concepts of NEXTT (New Experience in Travel Technologies), this second webinar which took place on 4 February looked further at how the industry is moving from concepts to implementation of ideas and taking advantage of the new imperative for healthy travel to accelerate innovations and process changes.
Nearly 700 participants registered for this latest webinar to hear from representatives from ANA Aeroportos de Portugal, Ferrovial Airports and Trade and Travel about innovative concepts and new opportunities that arise from these challenging times for the air travel industry. Although the NEXTT vision, a joint ACI and IATA initiative, remains a long-term focus on the future of travel, many of the concepts being trialed and implemented today – such as seamless passenger journeys, touchless technologies, and biometric enabled processing – still remain relevant to address terminal capacity constraints and address the industry future challenges.
First webinar poll results: 60 per cent of the viewers answered that 1. Operational efficiency, and 2. Process, should be the focus of innovation right now.
The panelists addressed some of the opportunities airports and their key partners are facing to make innovations new realities. For example, Aaron Beeson, Director of Innovation at ANA Aeroportos de Portugal, explained that being part of Vinci Airports provided a unique perspective on a global innovation strategy for a group of 45 airports, and helped shape a global vision based upon common baselines to provide a consistent end to end passenger experience across their network.
Aaron also highlighted that the fundamentals of the airport of the future have not really changed but that there has been a pivot in some of the focus and acceleration in a few areas, for example accelerating the focus on a contactless customer experience. Also, more thoughts are coming up around off-airport processing, online and automatic check-in, giving passengers options (pre- and post-security) and a focus on greater personalized journeys.
As the webinar emphasised, there is now a window of opportunities to accelerate some of the concepts, getting regulations aligned and focus on global standards needed. Our second speaker, Gonzalo Velasco Zabalza, Business Plan and Innovation Director at Ferrovial Airports, explained that when looking at expected disruptions in the airport business over a period of time (short-, medium- and long-term), potential solutions around baggage and passengers’ disinfection procedures and international alignment for healthy processes were still lagging.
Furthermore, he mentioned that Ferrovial’s innovation strategy is now much more focused around a short-term horizon, incremental and with operational efficiency set as the primary objective (as the results of our poll question No. 1 confirmed). While the short-term key initiatives are related to the establishment of international standards for health screening and sharing trusted real-time data, the medium-term focus is primarily on resilience with the establishment of digital infrastructure and flexible terminal designs (both for growth and reduced capacity). In the long-term, the organisation’s focus is on sustainable growth addressing CO2 emissions leading to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), an important milestone for the industry to come together as one.
Second webinar poll results: 51 per cent of the viewers answered that Financial Constraints are the biggest challenge to move forward with the implementation of innovation during COVID-19.
The speakers also explained how the aviation sector can take practical steps to stimulate the emerging technology markets and make the industry more attractive for talents and investments. In order to secure funds, the need to elaborate a positive business case is paramount, while building consortia with partners having a similar vision, and running trials to work collaboratively and optimise the investment in innovation.
The third webinar speaker, Alexis Long, Chief Executive of technology accelerator Trade and Travel, gave his perspective based on the technology companies he works with, including Silicon Valley innovators and their international equivalents. He emphasised that organisations that are great at accepting innovation tend to have in common: a.) seeking innovation solutions across the mission space and internal business processes, attracting ideas by leveraging inputs from a much wider scope of motivated partners, b.) market stimulation through policy and process decisions to ensure a wider flow of funded technological solutions focused on challenges, c.) ensuring that more pilots transition through to operational capabilities, while establishing the right organisational structure and decision-making mindsets to deliver new capabilities.
In summary, amidst the significant challenges, the COVID-19 crisis has put greater focus on airport operational resilience and put forward the need to consider sustainable innovations as the focus of environmental elements will continue to be crucial in the future of the air travel industry. New ideas that have a better chance to succeed are the ones that allow modest improvements to be made with greater speed, less risk and, overall less hesitation. Early decisions supported by appropriate risk tolerance and sufficient levels of information should prevail.
Make sure to download the NEXTT latest report, available on both ACI World and IATA websites, that further highlights the relevance of the concepts and the challenges associated with COVID-19’s impacts.
Missed the webinar? You can watch it on-demand here.
Links to find out more:
NEXTT microsite link: https://nextt.iata.org/en_GB/
LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13593517/