FCM’s Innovation Spotlight: June

Travel News 22 Jun 2017

Our new monthly insight into all things #TravelTech related. The latest on new technology launching and being talked about across the business travel industry.


1.    JetBlue and Delta: Bio-metric boarding passes

Both JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines are propelling themselves into the future of travel and are beginning to test both facial and fingerprint-recognition technology.

The JetBlue program will start next month (July) on flights from Boston to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport. Meanwhile Delta has been testing fingerprint identification in Washington to allow some SkyMiles members entry to its Sky Club lounges. This testing could lead to more widespread use of fingerprint identification including the replacement of boarding passes. Delta’s tests are limited to SkyMiles members who also are enrolled in Clear, a subscription service that uses biometrics to help process passengers through some airport checkpoints. Both JetBlue and Delta are hoping to improve their customer processes through crowded and busy airports whilst maintaining a high level of security. “We hope to learn how we can further reduce friction points in the airport experience, with the boarding process being one of the hardest to solve,” Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s executive vice president for customer experience, said in the statement. “Self-boarding eliminates boarding pass scanning and manual passport checks, just look into the camera and you’re on your way.”


2.    Best Western: Voice Activated Rooms

Taking inspiration from Amazon’s Alexa, Best Western are the next big hotel group to begin testing the use of voice activation in its hotels for guests as well as employees.

“The Amazon Alexa is the future,” said David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western Hotels and Resorts, during the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, held at the Marriott Marquis, in New York, earlier this week. “In the future, that’s how the guest might want to interact with us. Right now, people are into messaging, but in the future, it’s going to be artificial intelligence and voice activation.” The hotel will begin testing the use of the Amazon Dot to enable guests to order room service, check the weather or report issues with their room. While hotel staff can use it to report whether or not the room is clean or if any maintenance is required for it.


3.    TSA, AA Airline test 3d Carry-on luggage scanner

A new luggage-scanning technology that will allow liquids, gels and laptops in carry-on bags to shorten the screening time could be on the way! A computed tomography scanner, also known as a CT scanner, can not only look through your luggage for bombs or weapons but can create a 3-D image of the contents to allow screeners to rotate the image to every possible angle

The TSA and American Airlines began testing the use of smaller, more advanced CT scanners for carry-on luggage at one lane of Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The testing began Thursday June 22nd and will continue indefinitely, with further tests at other airports likely to follow. “We already use this type of technology for checked baggage and we expect these smaller, checkpoint-sized machines will provide the same high level of security,” TSA acting administrator Huban Gowadia said.


4.    W Hotels is launching a Frogger-inspired retro video game

To celebrate the opening of its latest hotel in Bellevue Seattle, W Hotels has created and launched its own retro, arcade style video game called “Belle the Bear”.  “We wanted to celebrate the opening of W Bellevue in a way that would reflect the tech-centric city it's located in, and the atmosphere of the new hotel itself… We wanted to build excitement, engagement and do something truly innovative.” Anthony Ingham, global brand leader at W Hotels Worldwide said.  To encourage users to play the game, W Hotels is holding a high-score competition from June 15 through July 15. At the end of the competition, the five highest-scoring players in the U.S. will receive prizes, with the top player winning a free three-night stay in the Extreme WOW Suite at W Bellevue, round-trip airfare for two, a $500 shopping trip to The Bellevue Collection and more.