Smart airports represent one of the fastest-growing sectors of airport operations and the travel industry overall.
Today’s smart airports are making it easy to forget just how analog the travel experience was not too long ago. Less than 20 years ago, for example, securing boarding passes and tracking baggage via a smart phone would have been unimaginable.
And then there are the many airport operations and processes behind the scenes that passengers never see. Smart airports are transforming these processes, too, making them safer, more efficient and more reliable.
Smart airports are also becoming a big business, according to a new report. As a travel manager, it’s important for you to know what smart airports are, why they are growing so quickly, as well as how they are reshaping the travel experience for your team members.
What are Smart Airports?
What exactly are smart airports? As noted above, they include new systems and airport operations technologies that improve the travel experience, as well as improvements and updates to behind-the-scenes operations that most travelers are unaware of. More specifically, a smart airport might include the following features:
- Facial recognition systems
- Beacon technology
- Smart gates
- New information systems for freight operations
- Modernized air traffic management
- Smart baggage and check-in management
- IP-based security monitoring
- Much more
The smart airport features listed above (plus others) will create a market valued at $13.5 billion by 2020 and $19 billion by 2024. That’s a 10% compound annual growth rate over the next five-plus years.
passengers in competition-heavy U.S. markets like Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and New York City will gravitate toward airports that reduce hassle
Why is the Smart Airports Sector Growing?
Why are smart airports becoming more and more commonplace around the globe? There’s a one-word answer: competition.
The number of global passengers is expected to reach 7.3 billion by 2034, and the airports that want to capture greater market share will need to be forward-thinking in creating the experiences those future passengers will demand.
For example, passengers in competition-heavy U.S. markets like Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and New York City will gravitate toward airports that reduce hassle and create more satisfying travel experiences. The smart airports sector is growing as airports in these markets try to position themselves as the providers of choice.
Ultimately, the future of smart airports and their collective ability to reach their full potential in airport operations will be influenced by several stakeholders:
- Airports: Airports are positioned to create the types of travel experiences that consumers want both today and in the future.
- Airlines: Airlines have influence over how airports make updates and renovations and how they generally evolve to better meet the needs of passengers.
- Travelers: Travelers enjoy airports choices in many markets, and their ability to choose where they want to fly in and out of can help dictate the adoption of smart technologies.
- Government Agencies: Many smart airport features require coordination with the government agencies that run security checkpoints, air-traffic control towers and other important cogs in airport operations globally.
Only the future will reveal what we can expect from smart airports in the coming years. But, if growth in the sector is any indication, common features of smart airports are here to stay.
Facilitate the Best Experiences for Your Travelers
A key part of any travel manager’s responsibilities is facilitating more productive and more comfortable travel experiences for team members.
At JTB Business Travel, we offer a range of services focused on saving your company while also creating the experiences your travelers deserve. Behind everything we do is a common sense approach to business travel.