Travel Industry: Facial Biometrics in the Post-Pandemic World

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of touch-less and self-service options in the travel industry, leading to the deployment of facial recognition technology in various touchpoints such as check-in, security clearance, and boarding. This technology not only promotes a touch-less experience but also enhances personal data privacy. The hotel industry is also adopting this technology for self-check-in and digitising compliance requirements. Biometric technology is paving the way for a more seamless customer experience in the post-pandemic world.

The recent pandemic is already transforming the way we travel and is showing to be an evolutionary catalyst for numerous sectors. Multiple touchpoints that formerly resulted in long queues of passengers are being phased out in favor of touch-less and self-service options.

Restoring Confidence in Air Travel

Airlines and airports throughout the world are deploying technology that allows passengers to check-in using facial recognition, allowing them to pass through many touchpoints in the airport without having to touch anything. Instead of transferring documents back and forth, passengers can use self-service biometric verification to assist in baggage check-in, security check-point clearance, business lounge access, and boarding.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Face recognition is natural and crosses language barriers; most people know how to capture a selfie, so looking at a screen for a snapshot is easily accomplished. The pair of selfie photo and ID photo are compared by algorithm, and a match/no-match is concluded, following by the display of a red or green indicator light — a universal indication for a person to stop or go.

To further promote touch-less consumer experience and safeguard personal data privacy, biometric authentication technology can be embraced at travel retail point-of-sales, and for in-flight purchases. Detection of elevated body temperature (EBT), auto-recognition of passenger’s flight number at duty free retailers without unnecessarily revealing travel document identification details, and not forgetting – the cashless payment. Spearheaded by market demand, face recognition algorithm has also been developed to a maturity that reliably recognises a face even when a mask is worn. Integration of various major technologies into a smooth process is the key to success. A new world means that contactless customer onboarding in every step of travel is now the new norm.

Hotel Industry

Even before the pandemic, queuing up at hotel check-in counter is not exactly the experience that travellers are appreciating. Self-check-in from smartphone prior to arrival, and an automated face verification at hotel’s guest reception, can reduce unnecessary queuing time while digitising hotel’s compliance to national security and taxation requirements. Contactless registration is a win-win for the hotel industry. It maintains an outlook of professionalism while also helping to keep staff and guests safe.

Still handing out physical breakfast voucher during check-in? That is unnecessary when a QR code scanning using hotel guest’s companion mobile app can achieve the same objective more effectively.

In all these use cases described above, biometric technology paves the way to a more seamless customer experience. The travel industry is set to bounce back from the low tide, and when this happens we can expect to see a flurry of improvements in the overall infrastructure.