SOURCE: Boxever


December 08, 2015 10:00 ET

Change Is in the Air: Personalization, Biometrics and Trust to Shape the Future of Travel

New Boxever Survey Reveals Consumer Sentiment Toward New Travel Technologies and the Future Passenger Experience

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Dec 8, 2015) - While airlines race to implement new technologies that improve the customer experience and differentiate their brands, a new Boxever survey of more than 500 travelers found that many consumers will be hesitant to adopt futuristic technologies and quick to dismiss traditional customer experience strategies.

The issue, according to Boxever's research, is that many airlines are overlooking the most basic elements of brand adoption: personalization and trust. In fact, when asked about frequent flier programs, only 28 percent of travelers surveyed believe that being a member leads to more personalized service and a better customer experience. Even more alarming for airlines: Only 43 percent of millennials are members of frequent flier programs today, and just 22 percent of all travelers said they care about whether their preferred carrier is offered when they are making travel arrangements.

"Tactics that were once viewed as a must-have, such as a loyalty program, are losing effectiveness because they fail to put the customer first," said Dave O'Flanagan, co-founder and CEO of Boxever, a predictive marketing and customer intelligence company for travel providers. "It's become increasingly evident that winning and losing customers today and in the future hinges on earning trust and creating personalized and memorable experiences that more directly meet the needs of today's travelers."

Beyond loyalty programs, as airports and airlines consider where and how they can improve the travel experience, understanding consumer interest around new technologies and approaches is critical. When asked which futuristic technologies and offerings would improve the travel experience:

  • 57% said in-flight cabins and seating arranged by function, such as specific areas for family, business, sleep and entertainment
  • 55% identified biometrics -- such as the use of fingerprints and retina scans -- for check-in, security and boarding
  • 38% said self-driving cars that drop travelers off and pick them up at the airport
  • 36% identified travel websites that use advanced intelligence and predictive technology to automatically book flights and travel based on an individual's needs, schedule and preferences
  • 31% said robots that automate the check-in, security, boarding and customer service process

"Today's travelers care a lot more about the actual experience than the technology powering it," said O'Flanagan. "It doesn't matter how advanced or futuristic airlines and travel providers become. At the end of the day, what truly matters is creating personalized, one-to-one experiences for each and every customer -- across all channels, and at every stage of the travel lifecycle."

Biometrics: Adoption Challenges on the Horizon

While airlines, airports and governments continue to look for new ways to integrate fingerprints and facial recognition into the security, customs and boarding processes, it may take longer than expected for travelers to get on board with the idea. According to Boxever's survey, fewer than 50 percent of travelers said they'd trust airlines with fingerprints for identification purposes.

Security is a major concern when it comes to biometrics. But perhaps most alarming for airline executives: For many travelers the resistance goes beyond security. Of those who don't trust airlines to handle sensitive and personal data like fingerprints, nearly half (49 percent) also doubt the use of fingerprints would actually improve the travel experience.

However, Boxever found that the story changes when travelers are assured that the use of biometrics would expedite travel processes, enhance security and improve the overall travel experience. In that case:

  • 64% of travelers would feel comfortable using fingerprints to get through security lines without the use of other identification
  • 61% would use fingerprints to check in for their flight
  • 54% would ditch the boarding pass and use fingerprints to board the plane
  • Only 33% would feel comfortable using fingerprints to pay for goods and services

The In-Flight Experience: The Next Stop in the Sharing Economy

From Uber and Lyft to Airbnb, the sharing economy is taking over the travel industry, and it's only a matter of time before the in-flight experience starts to change. Looking 10 years out, more than 20 percent of travelers believe that an Uber/Lyft approach to air travel would improve the travel experience. 

While the complexities of setting up an Uber/Lyft-like arrangement for air travel are obvious, in the near term, it's more likely that the sharing economy will first impact the in-flight experience through service sharing. In fact, nearly 40 percent of travelers would consider partaking in in-flight services if offered by other travelers in their flight. Of the travelers that expressed an interest in in-flight shared services, Boxever found that the most in-demand services would be massages (68 percent), manicures and pedicures (37 percent), business networking (27 percent), haircut/beautician services (23 percent) and technical/job training (18 percent).

"Advancements across mobile, digital and analytics present tremendous opportunities for airlines and travel retailers to improve the end-to-end travel experience, compete more effectively, and earn consumer trust and loyalty," said O'Flanagan. "To stand out, travel providers need to deeply understand their customers' preferences and expectations, and deliver meaningful experiences that establish trusting relationships and keep travelers coming back."

For the full survey results and a look at consumer sentiment toward the future of travel, download Boxever's full report: Change is in the Air: Airlines and Travel Retailers Challenged to Answer the Call for Convenience, Customization & Trust in Travel - Today and in the Future.

Boxever puts airlines and travel retailers in the best position to achieve high conversion rates with real-time customer identification, personalized offers and recommendations and smart triggered communications that drive buyers to, through, and back into the point of conversion. With a complex ecosystem being driven by demand for better personalization, this approach is key for achieving higher revenue and larger order sizes while developing an undeniably human and unquestionably actionable model of today's traveler.

About Boxever
Boxever's predictive marketing platform helps airlines, online travel agents (OTAs), and other travel retailers deliver personalized, 1:1 marketing experiences to their customers across all channels and at all stages of the customer lifecycle. Companies like Air New Zealand, eDreams ODIGEO, Tigerair, Wideroe, and more achieve higher conversion rates, increased revenue and improved loyalty using Boxever's SaaS-based platform. The company is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, and its U.S. office is located in Boston, Mass. Learn more at, or follow us on Twitter @Boxever.