Increased numbers at airports and variable weather often accompany this exciting time of year.
Weather changes can lead to chaos at airports, especially when passenger numbers may be up to 25% higher. Shepherding a tired family around an airport where flight delays and confusion reign can put a dampener on even the most exotic holiday.
While dealing with my own family in an airport, I often think of how the airport staff must cope at times of disruption, when they are forced to deal with multiple demands on their time and resources. Their burnout rate during our fun times must be high.
How climate change compounds these issues is a concern. During COP25 the United Nations stated there is more evidence of the impacts of climate change, especially in extreme weather events, and these impacts are taking a greater toll. A sobering thought at this time of year.
The travel and transport industry is intimately affected by weather fluctuations and so must prepare for the worst – and work together towards a climate solution that we can (literally) live with. In addition to climate change, over the past 30 years, airline traffic has been on a steady 5%-7% annual increase, reaching just over 4 billion with further expected doubling in the next decade.
Having flown into Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) at various times of the year, I have come to expect variable weather patterns. Typhoons are an unwelcome visitor on a regular basis, often causing major and minor disruption at the airport.
Whereas the major disruptions can shut the airport for a day or two, minor disruptions causing delays and missed flights impact more passengers. Once the typhoon passes, the airport, airlines and all the stakeholders need to work extra hard to get the planes in the air and make sure that the passengers and their bags are safely on-board.
That is why HKIA turned to Elenium to help them bring the kiosks to passengers, in order to cut the queues and improve passenger satisfaction during disruption. There are now 140 Elenium kiosks at the airport.
This means that when disruption occurs, recovery is quick and seamless, with no need to channel passengers across a major airport. They can be served with minimal displacement and misery – a win-win for all. Their focus on a positive passenger experience has been noted when Hong Kong International Airport received the International Airport Review Airport of the Year award in 2018.
When disruptions impact any airport, they change plans for thousands of people – both passengers and staff. At a time when passengers are often tired, stressed and annoyed, it does not take much for emotions to boil over. Even the most seasoned travellers can lose their cool.
A multi-channel, full scale assault in communication, empathy and processing is the only way to tackle this. Allowing the passengers to choose between interacting via their own devices or airport provided equipment and people will empower them to choose the channel they consider to be the most efficient, which in turn will reduce queues and stress at the chokepoints.
Portable kiosks allow the airport and airline to easily bring the equipment to the passenger, instead of channeling hundreds or thousands of passengers through manned transfer desks, keeping the passengers and equipment in one, relatively manageable location. This permits the staff to assist passengers requiring a higher level of assistance with more care, time and empathy, resolving issues and questions as they come up.
At times it is more efficient, cheaper and faster to combine a device and human being to eliminate queues. There is a lot to be said for the human touch during difficult and disruptive times. For these scenarios, we’ve created a ‘Check-in in a suitcase’. A bit larger than a carry-on and weighing just over 10kg, this solution quickly increases throughput at any time during a busy season. This cost effective device can be easily stored for peak travel or periods of disruption.
We channel our energy, using robotics, AI, high-resolution cameras and expert teams to help our clients. Disruption is unavoidable so our job is to ensure we are always finding new ways to make the passenger journey seamless and reduce the impact of peak travel, weather events and other disturbances.