Budget airline Easyjet is to trial beacon technology across three major European airports with the aim of helping passengers better navigate their way through the often labyrinthine, quasi-shopping malls hundreds of miles from their destination city.
The ‘iBeacon’ technology, which is being trialled at Luton, Gatwick and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports, triggers notifications to passengers' mobiles during “critical points of the airport journey”. The notifications are automatically activated as passengers approach bag drop and security – prompting them to open their boarding pass at the right time so it is ready to be scanned and advising when passports need to be presented.
Eastjet is trialling the technology during the peak summer period with a view to rolling it out across Europe if it proves popular with passengers.
Easyjet’s commercial director Peter Duffy explains: “This is another example of how Easyjet is innovating to make travel easier for passengers across Europe. By becoming the first airline to trial iBeacons across Europe we can help speed up the airport journey and provide assistance to our passengers making it even easier to fly with Easyjet”.
But many industry watchers and beacon enthusiasts see the trial as the beginning of mobilizing the passenger experience and using it to create retail opportunities.
Automatic location check-in is one opportunity, but understanding who is where and sending them offers can help boost the retail side of the airport.
“Two clear opportunities for airports are offer pushes which can boost sales, such as encouraging passengers to have a coffee while they wait, or push notifications of pertinent information at check in,” says Peter Gough, design partner and founder at ORM.
“However, it's worth noting that beacons shouldn’t be just about push notifications and offers - they can be used in the background to detect where the app user currently is. This provides data analytics of popular footfall, what areas are working and where and when actions are triggered.”
More elaborately, the technology can be used to help loyal and high value customers more easily traverse the airport, acting like a vitual concierge service. It can be also be used to understand how efficiently the airport works.