From booking a ticket online to downloading the boarding pass via a smartphone app, travellers today expect air travel to be a seamless digital experience.
Why should that experience end at the airport?
Customer information boards are often basic text-based displays offering the gate number, boarding time and little else.
Realising that customers today expect a digitally-rich experience, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has developed a ‘digital wall’ to keep travellers informed and entertained while they relax at the SAS lounge.
Digital wall set for take-off
The ‘True Traveller Wall’ was installed in the SAS lounge at Oslo Airport last month. It will soon be fitted at lounges in other airports around the world.
The wall, which was developed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in partnership with the SAS Innovation Lab, provides a diverse range of information.
This includes facts about the number of passengers boarding flights, the distance flown by passengers in the current year, and weather conditions at destinations around the world. The wall is also able to play SAS marketing videos and display posts from the airline’s social media platforms.
By introducing the wall to its lounges, SAS wants to show its customers that they are an important part of the company’s journey to becoming a truly digital airline.
Rajneesh Garg, TCS Client Partner for SAS, says: “The digital wall displays certain key details about SAS to customers who are using the lounge. There are plans to put in more information that is relevant to the customer to improve their experience.”
Data aggregating solution
Cutting-edge processes were used in the development of the digital wall. This involved ‘elastic search’ technology, micro-services based architecture, and the use of enterprise middleware to enable real time delivery of boarding events.
The solution works by aggregating data from multiple sources including internal systems and social media, such as SAS’ Instagram account. It is also flexible enough to update the information on display based on the context.
“We developed an end-to-end solution that was used for the digital wall,” Garg adds.
A more interactive experience
SAS has praised the “very quick deployment” of the digital wall at Oslo Airport, while stressing that this is “just the beginning” of its digital journey.
The next phase will involve adapting the technology to enable greater traveller interaction.
Massimo Pascotto, Head of SAS Innovation, explains: “In the future we would like to allow users to interact and display their own data by pairing individual devices [with the digital wall].
“It could work by scanning a QR code so the user’s device will connect to the screen so they can share information, such as a heatmap of where they’ve been, how many kilometres they have flown, or how many flights they have taken.”
He adds: “It is certainly feasible in the future. We wanted to start slow but ultimately we want to empower passengers.”
The journey to becoming a digital airline
The rise of digitalization is presenting opportunities to agile businesses that are able to embrace innovation.
The SAS Digital Roadmap seeks to improve customer experience through personalization and analytics. The airline is pursuing various technological solutions and is seen as leading the move towards digitalization within the aviation industry.
As Garg explains: “It is not just about enhancing customer experience or bringing business back to SAS, it is also about ensuring SAS is technologically savvy.”
At last year’s TCS Europe Summit, SAS revealed how digital enablers had been integral to its competitive strategy.
Indeed, SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson has previously talked about how the airline is constantly on the look-out for new ways to use technology more effectively.
Initiatives like the digital wall will be important in ensuring SAS’ digital journey has a smooth landing.