A seamless experience for all travellers at MIA

In this two-part series, Maurice Jenkins, Head of Digital Strategy and Chief Innovation Officer at Miami International Airport talks to International Airport Review about how the airport is working to provide a seamless travel journey to all their passengers through touchless and contactless technology.

Creating the ‘seamless travel experience’ has been a topic of our industry at least since 2017 (if not before). The emphasis on reducing passenger anxiety and increasing customer satisfaction is coupled with a push for self-service technologies and the expectation of collaboration across stakeholders – regulators, airlines, and airports working cohesively to create a new approach to the customer experience. The holy grail is the promise that happy and contented travellers increase their level of spend if the experience is ‘right’. But how do we achieve that? Calculating ROI can be difficult as there are multitudes of variables to draw against. We therefore end up only telling one side of the story. The continued drive toward digitisation and digital transformation is key.

The shift towards digital

The rising population of digital engagers will expect the industry to do more to empower travel using self-service and mobile technologies than ever before. They have low tolerance for the current reliance on paper-laden, manual processes which impact operational performance, leading to inefficiencies and human error, and resulting in longer wait times that increase customer anxiety. Passengers quickly take to social media to share their stories when there’s an industry mis-step – the reputational risk can be high and passive acceptance can’t be tolerated; we must be agile and work diligently to stay ahead of their expectations.

Digitisation and the push for progress continues to accelerate. The air transportation industry has made great progress in digitising vital processes, such as obtaining a visa, booking travel and accommodation, as well as securing access to flight status information. It will soon be the case – throughout all 27 member states of the EU – that the process of verifying a passenger’s identity and ‘stamping’ their passport will become fully digitised and automated.

Credit: Biometric boarding at Miami International Airport (MIA)

Passengers quickly take to social media to share their stories when there’s an industry mis‑step – the reputational risk can be high and passive acceptance can’t be tolerated”

Passports themselves may soon also be digitally issued and securely stored in the holder’s device wallet, thanks to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and its Digital Travel Credential (DTC) initiative. The DTC will enable the industry to have far greater trust in the digital data they receive from travellers as it will immediately establish that the data is genuine, isn’t forged; nor has it been tampered with in any way. Using a wallet to identify a document (whether a DTC or other available methods) is a positive step forward in giving the traveller control over the use and sharing of that data.

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