The aviation industry is a rapidly expanding sector. According to data from the World Bank, the global air travel has expanded 800% over the last 4 decades. This may not be exponential growth, but it is certainly a steady increasing trend of a multi-trillion dollar industry.
As the industry grows, it is also adopting new technologies at a fast pace. Face recognition immigration systems have been around for a while now, as has remote checking. The aviation industry is currently in an era of mass change, as it now goes more mobile and embraces the startup culture of today.
According to recent research, the majority of site traffic (58% in 2018) came from mobile devices. This ranges from opening emails, searching online, to making large purchases. Many still prefer to make purchases through desktops but perform the research and make purchasing decisions from their mobile devices.
Hence, in turn, the aviation industry is giving customers what they want and demand. After all, desktop usage is declining and mobile usage is steadily taking over. Customers want and need the flexibility of mobile booking, arrival check-in, and more.
That said, there is a lot happening in the aviation industry’s mobile scene, more than most realize. Some aspects are still experimental, but many of these innovations will soon be in mainstream usage.
In this article, we will be looking at the key mobile tech advancements that are changing aviation as we know it. These changes are not only on the customer side, but also for management, planning, security and more.
This is a must have for most airlines, airports, and service providers. While apps are more commonly used for purchasing flights by the younger generations, their use for things such as research, flight information, seat selection, booking updates and check-ins is becoming far more common. Mobile app trends in aviation are providing new conveniences and also driving innovative changes.
It is the sheer convenience of being able to manage and stay up-to-date with bookings that makes apps so convenient. If there is a delay, then passengers are instantly alerted on their phone and if they need help, they can also contact support. Boarding passes can now be delivered via some airline apps, which is not only more convenient, but also environmentally friendly.
However, the users of these apps also know about app store reviews, social media channels, vlogging (video blogging) and are often on other major travel related apps such as TripAdvisor. Having an app means that the provider needs to meet customer demands and needs, and if they fail to do so, can end up with negative feedback on all their channels quickly. This, although sometimes seen as a negative, can be a real driving force of improvement. Some benefits of using mobile apps include:
- Instant Information
- Flight details
- Flight management & check-in
- Customer service
- Interactive communication
- Drives aviation service improvements
This list covers the key aviation app features that help to improve the industry and user experience.
Mobile Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is aiding airports and airlines in new ways. AIs are being tested and used in assessing possible issues at immigration or customs, and as things move forward, the AI technologies will be providing more and more smart solutions.
Even when a website visitor needs help, often that ‘first person’ contacted on a website’s help center is an AI chatbot. These chatbots can store and access incredible amounts of information, which allows them to answer questions in quite effective and accurate ways. AI assistants are even helping out on social media platforms for some companies.
However, some airports have taken things further, using AI systems for pricing prediction and analysis, managing footflows and reducing bottleneck issues. Here are a few ways AI can assist in the aviation industry:
- Threat assessment
- Imigration assistance (facial recognition)
- AI customer service assistants
- Logistic planning
- Price predictions
- Data Analysis
While there are almost certainly more ways in development, these are already in use or nearing the final stages of development.
Digital marketing has been swaying towards mobile marketing for some time now. Google has pushed websites to become user friendly on mobiles, and as the percentage of web usage on mobile phones and tablets continues to increase, so does the development of new mobile focused marketing.
As mobile screens are smaller, it is hardly surprising that digital marketing for mobile devices has a strong visual element. Videos, 3D experiences, augmented reality, maps, infographics and more are used to grab user attention and provide information in an easy to understand visual format.
It has long been known that images impact social media campaigns. Click through rates are increased dramatically for social campaigns with images versus those only using texts. The effectiveness of campaigns using visuals have seen average improvement rates of 50-300%, depending on the platform. Some campaigns see even better results.
Social media campaigns and images are not only limited to outbound marketing. Instant chat website software and apps allow for direct marketing to clients in real time. Even AI (chatbots) can help increase sales by providing attractive digital media promotions, as well as infographics to quickly and clearly explain processes.
Airports and Airlines have their own apps that as specifically targeted to mobile users. These apps provide a visual and easy to navigate user experiences. If they don’t initially, they normally soon get changed, as clients will start to complain. Mobile updates are essential for targeting progressively more mobile customers. Some mobile app advantages are:
- Easy information via images and infographics
- Direct marketing based on client profile
- Increased response rates
- Improved user experience
While apps do provide helpful options for customers, they also provide a mobile marketing channel directly targeting users on their phones or tablets. Done correctly, these marketing campaigns can add a lot of value to the user experience and to the incomes of aviation companies.
Augmented Reality – Marketing and Assistance
Although technically this could come under digital marketing, we felt that this unique and new technology needed its own sections. Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality, except for the fact that with augmented reality, virtual images appear to be in the real world. Unlike VR where users can see anything around them, AR allows you to see the world as it is through a mobile screen or glasses, but alters that world with visual effects.
It really is quite a strange experience, and was heavily promoted for game use originally. However, it is now finding many ingenious ‘real world’ applications.
For aviation, this is allowing for navigation uses, such as the case in Gatwick Airport, where they use AR as a form of navigation. Business-Travel reported on how the passenger app used beacons in conjunction with AR to guide visitors around their rather large airport. However, they have further plans for the award winning app, including reminding passengers that need to get moving, and even knowing if they should unload luggage because a passenger is nowhere near being able to make the flight.
Although AI is a new and relatively unexplored technology for businesses, the aviation industry is already starting to see its potential. AI may be interesting to aviation related companies because of the following:
- New technology with many possible applications
- Navigation for customers through the airports
- Interesting marketing opportunities
IoT – The Internet of Things
IoT devices are helping make normal devices smarter and more convenient. They are also well integrated with mobile devices via their related apps. In airports, these devices could be used for developing better flows of passengers by combining IoT with AI, as well as interactive support and assistance from anywhere in the airport. IoT can also be used in aviation offices and factories to improve productivity, accuracy, data flows and more.
The information and tasks that these devices could be developed to do is only limited by imagination. IoT devices are already used or about to be introduced for the following advantages:
- Making things easier
- Data for improved planning
- Logistic planning/management
- Two way data and support for staff and customers
Travel has often been daunting for anyone considering traveling to a country where they don’t speak the same language. This can be of concern, especially when trying to communicate in airports or about ‘unusual’ topics whereby the staff may not have the vocabulary, even if their language skills are decent.
Mobile translation apps and devices are revolutionising travel now with live voice to voice translations. Some of these devices work independently, or with a mobile device. Most will use a mobile application for setup and downloading certain languages etc.
Translation technology opens up new possible worlds for travelers, allowing them to truly communicate with people they would never have been able to speak with before.
Translation Technology Benefits for Aviation
There are sure to be many as technology improves, but as of today, these are already available:
- Reducing travel fears through communication
- Opening up new communication possibilities
- Allowing foreign language signage translation
Mobile Security Needs
With new technologies and their connecting apps, there is also a strong need for security within companies. These security needs range from protecting IoT devices from hackers, to separating business operations from normal used on mobiles. 2FA (2 factor authentication) is a strong example of mobile devices providing a second layer of protection.
New technologies are changing the world, but hackers and criminals are constantly looking for weaknesses. This is a time where companies are investing heavily in security to protect the long term profitability and reputation of their business.
Security is always a concern, both for users and companies. Here are a few of the reasons why mobile security is worth assigning some of the annual budget.
- Protection of data and customers
- Enhancing security and the feeling of safety
- Allowing useful information access safely
- Protecting brand name reputation
For those in the aviation industry, investment in cyber security is a must. The industry spends a fortune to keep things secure, protecting customers from inconveniences and dangers. Cyber security is one battle that they intend to win!
Many of the above sections also assist aviation staff to better manage situations and perform their duties. The stream of live and constantly updated information also leads to better customer service, and makes other aviation jobs easier to do well and accurately.
Airports, immigration and flights are changing. What was once a stressful and quite boring process, is now becoming easier to manage and quiet pleasant (even for completely novice travelers). This is largely thanks to new technologies and mobile devices providing conveniences and entertainment throughout the industry.
With these developments, new aviation focussed security solutions will also constantly develop.