As the airline experience itself continues to ebb and flow, airports are seeing a buzz of activity and are reinventing themselves around user experience and design. The new normal as exemplified by Incheon International Airport in Seoul, Madrid’s Barajas Airport, or Singapore’s Changi Airport, are centered around innovations like airy, light-filled primary spaces, less-intimidating security and baggage claim areas, simple signage, solutions to satiate our need to be connected (free Wi-Fi as demonstrated by JetBlue, who also offers charging stations for phones and devices), and more shopping and dining options near gates. The more successful ones have become places where people want to spend time and have experiences and not just pass through, like Chicago’s O’Hare newly launched farmer’s market inside the terminal.
Travel Trend #2: Smart Mapping Your Way to the Right Addresses
After getting off that plane, ever have trouble finding a great restaurant’s location or even worse, an offsite office where you have a meeting? Now that smartphones are at the center of our lives, navigation, in all senses of the word, takes up a large part of our digital experience. Apple realized this, and booted Google Maps off the iOS ecosystem. That move, along with Apple’s subsequent missteps in its own mapping effort, touched off a wave of activity in the mapping world. The new Google Maps app for iOS 6, launched in early December, is creating waves and Apple is scrambling to catch up. Giants like Nokia, Microsoft, AOL’s Mapquest and startups such as Waze and Lumatic are building, launching and innovating. Even the incumbent giant Google is launching new functions—incorporating content from Zagat and Frommer’s into results—as it races to differentiate itself against Apple on all fronts.
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Travel Trend #3: Wi-Fly The Friendly Skies?
This year saw many airlines experimenting with digital devices as the in-flight media consumption platform, or digital-enabled delivery of content services, on to users’ own devices. Tons of new investment is going into this upcoming new trend, from large incumbents to startups to even roll-up shops taking up the charge on the delivery side. Forward-looking airlines are rolling out Wi-Fi across short- and long-haul routes like there’s no tomorrow.
In –flight consumption patterns are beginning to look much like on-the-ground habits: Mixes of open-Web content-plus-services mixed with on-demand entertainment as well as live television channels.
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