Retailers and many  businesses are employing a new trend to engage consumers, beacon technology. Beacons work using Bluetooth Low Energy, and can transmit location data up to 100 feet. When a customer comes within range of a beacon, his or her smart device can use the beacon to gauge distance. With multiple beacons, a user can be triangulated down to the inch of any given area. In the travel industry, beacons have a vast array of potential uses cases that consumers will start to see in the next few years.

Airports and Beacon Technology

Airport travel can be intimidating, confusing, and stressful. Airlines are implementing beacon technology to help make the experience better for the consumer. The main focus for most airlines so far is to simplify check-in and boarding. Airlines and airports stress that the technology is not to track individuals, and it’s not about delivering ads. Airlines are looking at how beacon technology can deliver information to the traveler that is useful and makes travel smoother and less of a hassle.

Virgin Atlantic successfully tested the technology at Heathrow in London by using beacons to trigger smart devices to show boarding passes. British Airways uses beacon technology to transmit the Wi-Fi password to passengers as they enter the lounge area. EasyJet set up beacons near security to alert customers to what documents they would need to have ready. In the U.S., San Francisco International uses beacon technology to aid the visually impaired. When a customer gets within range of a beacon, an app is triggered that audibly gives directions and information about nearby items of interest, such as gate numbers, and restaurants.

Miami International Takes the Technology Further

Miami International Airport is the first to implement the technology throughout the entire airport experience, from parking lots to boarding. SITA is an international provider of IT to the airline industry, and they have developed a registry that makes implementation of beacon technology easier and allows vendors to use its API interface to develop apps. With SITA’s help, Miami International implemented the system they developed in two days. Right now, Miami Airport’s beacon zones are in the terminals, baggage claim, the sky train, and car parks to allow customers to navigate using their smart devices. That’s only the beginning for how the airport envisions beacon usage. Using the SITA registry makes it easier to expand the benefits provided as more vendors, airlines, and service providers take advantage of the beacons.

The Future of Beacon Technology for the Travel Industry

Since beacon technology is relatively inexpensive and has the potential to make airports and airline travel more convenient and appealing, its use will continue to expand. SITA says that 50 of the busiest airports in the world will be testing or implementing beacon technology within the next two to three years. Consumers will begin to see the effects—positive or negative—over the next few years. To know more about this topic, also read BLE Beacons Are Coming to a Retailer near You and How to Increase Customer Engagement with Beacon Technology.