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The World’s Airports Need Checkout-Free, and They Need it Now

Alice Chan Nov 15, 2022 5:04:00 AM
Imagine if you could serve hundreds more travelers a day, while seeing customer satisfaction rocket through the roof.

I’ve just returned from a short business trip to Europe for customer meetings and Web Summit, traveling through three major airports: San Francisco’s SFO, London’s Heathrow, and Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado. I survived to tell the tale, but barely. In case you missed it, air travel is back to record levels, but unfortunately the supporting services from food service to retail, and airport security, are struggling to keep up. Spoiler alert: here at Zippin we believe that automation has to be the answer.

In large part these struggles are due to labor shortages as many of these so-called frontline workers were either laid-off, furloughed, or quit during 2020 and early 2021, while Covid-19 raged and demand for air travel collapsed. In the intervening months before demand for travel returned, they realized that their high stress jobs, often accompanied by low pay, were not for them and decided to retrain for more rewarding, better paying work. All part of the trend known as the Great Resignation.

So what is the solution? Where can airports turn to deliver a better customer experience for its captive audience of travelers? Automation - using technology to streamline services and remove friction - is key.

So what does this have to do with Zippin? Our vision is to automate physical spaces, such as stores and quick service eateries, to help make life more efficient and convenient, not just for customers, but also for retail workers and the companies that operate them. One thing is for certain: the pandemic has shortened consumers’ tolerance for outmoded, time-wasting activities, like standing in line when we don’t have to. 

Time after time, I saw lines out the door of irritated, harassed travelers, who simply wanted to grab food to bring aboard, get a quick coffee before heading to the gate, or even pick up a souvenir to bring home. In my case, I simply turned heel and walked away - something no retailer wants to see happen. There is a better way. 

Think about it: a store like Pret A Manger, has row upon row of ready-made sandwiches and salads, cold drinks, desserts and other packaged food. There’s no need to interact with a crew member, other than to pay. Imagine if you could just grab what you fancied from the shelf, throw it in your bag and leave. And as a retailer, imagine if you could serve hundreds more travelers a day, while seeing customer satisfaction rocket through the roof. 

The good news is that the technology that makes this possible - thanks to ambient intelligence - is here today. It’s fast to deploy. It’s easy to manage and it’s proven. It’s no longer a fanciful concept that belongs in the future, Zippin’s technology is already up and running in international airports including Dallas Fort Worth, Rio de Janeiro and JFK

And the thing is passengers are clamoring for it. With the holiday travel season upon us, it’s time to give them what they want. If you’d like to learn how Zippin can equip your airport store with frictionless technology, please reach out below.

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