Travel is an important part of life. It provides opportunities to explore new cultures, meet people, and experience new places. The way we travel is changing and our needs while on the move are turning towards a new direction.
Historically, regardless of the mode, the primary objective of transport operators was to minimize the time spent traveling. Transport was a ‘means to an end.’
Fortunately, new services and applications –often made possible by high-quality connectivity – are changing this mindset. The onboard, enroute experience now ranks among passengers’ highest priorities, reducing the significance for transport operators to minimize the time spent traveling.
A traveler’s digital needs are extending beyond the office and home. The public transportation industry must follow this development to meet the expectations of today’s digital passenger.
Ask yourself: what impact does connectivity have on your recent travel experiences?
Defining the Digital Passenger
Today’s digital passengers want to be more comfortable, enjoy a less stressful journey, and reduce unnecessary steps when traveling. Remaining ‘connected’ while on the move is one of key features that makes the journey seamless and enjoyable.
Satisfaction among these discerning customers is strongly correlated to their ability to remain productive while in transit. Doing so, makes the time spent traveling feel shorter and the journey made easier. Therefore, remaining connected throughout the journey has become a central part of passengers’ expectations and must be a central part of the technology investment mindset.
With a focus on new, innovative, and disruptive technologies, the transportation industry holds great opportunities to make this digital transformation a success. The investment behind such a success must consider certain key factors and a future-proof technology is a requirement.
As seen in many historical transformations, the public transportation industry should not only listen to the needs of the digital passenger but exceed them.
It is vital that any technology investment be chosen based on system functionalities, durability, and scalability. The era of bare minimums is long gone among passengers and operators, and capital budgets must be sufficient to not end up with a quality of service that would be considered merely sufficient a decade ago.
Technology investments have entered the “era of amenities” and should be chosen based on the digital transformation, driven by connecting people and services.
Capital investments should consider the capacity of the system to meet the demands of the future, with the potential capability for the operator to expand the services provided and/or support additional digital applications. Of course, responsive, robust, and uninterrupted connectivity is a mandatory requirement. With such a platform, the sky is the limit and future applications that are yet to be developed can quickly be provided to passengers.
Changing the Mindset
We’ve done this before – with the smartphone – and it starts with not settling for the easy or the cheap.
The smartphone quickly adapts to new services and applications and has been successful for over a decade. The transportation industry should think about the smart train – and the smart bus – enabling the quick implementation of new applications and services.
An adaptive, reliable, and connected system must be at the forefront of any investment strategy aiming to modernize fleets to meet the requirements of the next ten years.
Passenger connectivity is highly correlated to the travel experience and is mainly driven by the digital transformation in our society.
The future travel experience is very exciting, but the right decisions must be taken today to make it possible tomorrow.