Every aspect of our lives is being transformed by digital technology. The transportation sector is no exception to that, with airports, highways, and railway terminals increasingly using advanced technologies to transform their operations and the customer experience they deliver.
Digital signage and digital screens are among the main applications improving the experience of travelers across the United States. Here is a closer look at how travelers and the transportation industry as a whole can benefit by embracing new technologies.
The Transportation Sector at a Glance
The transportation industry was one of the hardest-hit industry sectors during the coronavirus pandemic. As planes were grounded, airports shut down, and Americans were asked to stay at home, much of the industry came to a grinding halt.
For example, the size of the global airline industry halved between 2019 and 2020, shrinking from a value that exceeded $750 billion to just under $360 billion. By now, the industry is recovering although its value continues to lag behind pre-Covid figures. Delivering an outstanding customer experience while streamlining behind-the-scenes operations can help the transportation sector regain strength. Investing in digital technologies is one of the most effective approaches toward industry recovery.
How Digital Signage Can Transform Transportation Hubs
When digital signage first became available for the transportation industry, airports were among the first to embrace the new technology. Even before the industry’s digital transformation became government policy, airport operators and other industry leaders started to discover the power of digital screens and other signage.
Here are three ways digital signage can transform transportation hubs:
Direct Communications with Travelers
Navigating an unfamiliar airport for the first time can be confusing even for seasoned travelers. Choosing the right check-in desk, making their way to security, and finding the correct gate may have been simple when airports were only managing a handful of flights per day, but those days are gone. As transportation has become more complex, sophisticated digital signage both landside and airside can make it easy for travelers to find their way around an airport.
Wayfinding signage is one of the keys to delivering a positive, enjoyable traveler experience. The analog signs used until recently were a good start, but digital screens and signage offer modern transportation businesses the flexibility they need. Digital signage makes it easy for operators to communicate with travelers in real time and ease their journey through an airport.
Interactive touchscreens allow travelers looking for more specific information to retrieve exactly what they need. The screens are not necessarily a replacement for human customer service staff, but they are an excellent tool to increase the productivity of an existing customer service team. Rather than spending time answering routine queries, customer service agents can focus their time on more complex questions.
Automatic Updates to Reflect Real-Time Changes
Static airport signage lacks the flexibility to respond to real-time changes. Whenever passengers need to take a different path through an airport or a flight moves to a new gate, digital signage truly comes into its own.
Gate changes and updates to a flight’s departure time are simple with a powerful digital signage system. Not only is it easy to update the information on the screen. Moreover, by connecting the signage to the airport’s operational system, updates can be automated. As a result, airport operators can concentrate manpower where it is really needed instead of forcing teams to spend a large part of their time processing routine updates.
Simplified Emergency Management
Despite the most thorough scenario planning and preparation, accidents and emergencies happen in the transportation sector.
When that is the case, digital signage becomes a highly effective tool for emergency management. Digital screens make it easy to alert travelers, for example by changing from an organization’s normal colors to emergency red. Displaying pre-programmed evacuation and other emergency procedures helps keep travelers safe and informed. Reinforcing audible alarms and instructions with digital displays improves operators’ levels of preparedness in case of an incident.
Digital signage allows users to customize emergency screens depending on their location and the action they would like travelers to take. In some cases, it may be a case of using a different route. In others, a full evacuation may be necessary. Communicating these messages is easy with digital signage, even in quickly evolving situations.
How Travelers Benefit from Digital Signage
The easiest way to understand how travelers may benefit from digital signage is to picture their journey through an airport and focus on key touchpoints that define the customer experience. For most travelers, these touchpoints include:
- Arrivals and transit
Here is a closer look at how digital signage in the transportation industry improves each of these steps.
Wayfinding to Check-in and Beyond
Seasoned travelers may argue that each airport follows a similar layout. This statement may be true to some degree, but the larger an airport or a railway station is, the more complex it tends to become. Add to that the fact that most people find travel somewhat stressful, and the benefits of digital signage become obvious.
Digital screens welcome passengers into an airport and then quickly point them toward the correct check-in desk or kiosk. Most airlines are now offering the option to check in at a kiosk, and for the majority of travelers, these digital touchscreen tools work well. They put an end to waiting in a long queue and streamline the check-in process.
Easing the Path Through Security
Airport security is another area in which digital signage offers numerous benefits. Most airports offer several security checkpoints and the number of people waiting to pass through changes quickly. Digital signage takes the guesswork out of choosing the most convenient option for travelers and staff.
If there is a shorter line at another checkpoint, travelers can decide whether they want to walk there. At the same time, airport staff can easily see where to direct travelers to allow them to pass through security smoothly. Managers know where they need to deploy additional team members.
But digital signage can do more than manage time. Security procedures vary between transportation hubs, and digital screens are ideal spaces to deliver detailed instructions to travelers on how to prepare their personal items.
Improving the Airside Experience
Unless they are actually running for a flight, many travelers enjoy spending a little downtime airside. They may be looking for a bite to eat, one more souvenir to purchase, or just a quick coffee. Touchscreens make it easy to find exactly what they are looking for, and the information can automatically reflect opening hours at night or in the early morning.
Larger screens are ideal for announcements of gate changes or other critical information.
Arrivals and Transit
On arrival at a new destination, a welcome screen is simply the beginning of a great customer experience. More importantly, perhaps, digital signage is an excellent tool to help smooth transitions between two airplanes or airplanes and ground transportation.
Clear but flexible signage makes it easy to direct passengers to the correct baggage claim area, for example. Especially in busy airports, this limits confusion and time-wasting. If unloading is delayed for whatever reason, airport staff can easily communicate with travelers, allowing new arrivals to better manage their time or update anyone waiting in the arrivals area.
Digital signage can smooth every part of a traveler’s journey, whether they are new to an area or use an airport or other facility frequently.
Benefits of Bluum Technology's Digital Signage Solutions
Aside from transforming transportation hubs and improving the customer experience, digital signage has further advantages when it comes to employees, the use of space, and additional revenue.
Internally, digital signage takes the idea of an intranet to the next level. Digital screens make it easy for employers to disseminate information among a large workforce, including updated schedules or work policies.
These screens are also an excellent way to recognize staff for outstanding contributions which helps build a more positive workplace culture.
Using Previously Unused Spaces
Digital signage is available in virtually any conceivable shape or size. That means operators can use previously unused spaces to share information with travelers and staff.
Even small spaces can have a big impact in areas where people generally spend a few minutes or tend to look for directions. The key to optimizing space is to start by thinking about the result your operation would like to achieve.
Generating Advertising Revenue
Aside from critical travel information, offering advertising space in high-traffic areas or spaces where travelers tend to relax is a great way of adding to the transportation business’s income without compromising on the delivery of information.