Seamless Door To Door Travel

James Beagrie
James Beagrie

The other day when I arrived at the airport I got a bit upset, because no one recognised me.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t have a hissy fit and spout “Don’t you know who I am?” at the poor check-in lady as I don’t have illusions that I’m some sort of celebrity, but it still bugged me.

You see, we’re well into the 21st century and the concept of seamless travel is still just that – a concept! I thought by now when I bought an airline ticket that the detail the carrier holds should be joined up with all the other information about me on my phone, with contactless check-in for one, but we’re still being asked for passports as we queue and numerous other pre-supplied documents checked again, several times, before we finally make it onto the flight. It’s not rocket science to appreciate they already have this information, so why ask me again, and again?

We’ve been promised however that seamless travel should by now have gone much further than just replacing the palaver at check-in. It should start right from the moment my alarm wakes me and my phone tells me about the weather at my destination together with my journey details, so I know whether to wear a sou’wester or not. It should allocate my parking space, send my coffee preference and, knowing exactly when I’m about to arrive at the terminal, have one waiting for me.

If you were part way through a film in the taxi to the airport, the aircraft in-flight entertainment can know this to continue entertaining you from where you left off. This isn’t mythical stuff, it should happen all the way to the hotel and beyond; with small touches like an umbrella in the car if it’s needed, contactless check-in at my hotel, keyless entry, restaurant and theatre tickets as required, and seamless checkout as I step in to the taxi that knows where I’m going.

NDC and ONE Order was touted as being able to bring all these elements together, door-to-door. By now with ONE Order, we should be rid of all these different reference numbers and documents when checking in or making changes to itineraries and surely a simple QR code can capture all. It works at the pub!

ONE Order said this was a realistic view of the future 10 years ago. It’s supposed to phase out PNRs and ticketing records but so far, I’ve yet to see any more than an extended variety of pricing options for a flight now they’ve evolved beyond the 26 letters of the alphabet.

I’m still waiting for my customer enriched experience. We still have all these disparate elements rattling in a jigsaw box. The problem is that no-one’s yet tipped out the pieces and put them together. The technology’s here and the regulatory framework is ready but so far, it just hasn’t happened. It only takes one bright spark to break cover and the rest will follow. Maybe some blockchain savvy 12 year old is poised like a coiled spring ready to take on the world…  where are you?

People want door-to-door seamless travel not just because it’s cool, but because we crave human interaction and as my mate John Hobbs-Hurrel at Advantage said to me recently, Travel is the only thing you can buy that enriches you.

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