Self-service kiosks’ future questioned

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Published: June 28, 2012

Self-service kiosks appear likely to be overtaken by smartphones, as airlines increasingly focus their IT spending on mobile technologies.

“Adoption [of kiosks by passengers] is the problem,” SITA senior VP-marketing and sales operations Arthur Calderwood said at the 2012 Air Transport IT Summit. “We think we’re introducing solutions, but the dots don’t join up.”

Only 39% of airlines believe kiosks will be a dominant passenger processing channel beyond 2015, according to the 2012 Airline IT Trends survey. Smartphones and websites will battle it out to be the prime channel, with both attracting 71% of the vote.

Yet despite this apparent fall from grace, three-quarters of airlines are still planning additional kiosks at check-in. Today just 28% offer bag tag printing and this number could swell to 83% by 2015. However, half of those surveyed do not plan to add extra features such as flight transfer or lost baggage reporting.

“Different channels are playing different roles. Perhaps kiosks will remain dominant at check-in, but they don’t have as many features as mobile,” SITA director-market insight Nigel Pickford said, adding that kiosks will continue to play an important passenger-processing role “at least for a few years.”

The situation is neatly summarized by SITA board chair Paul Coby: “Different parts of world are at different stages of acceptance of technology. Some are moving to kiosks from check-in desks and, for them, that is quite a radical approach. For others, online check-in and mobile check-in are the de facto norm … Kiosks are a rather expensive online check-in with a printer.”

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