Deep and meaningful personalisation of service offerings has long been regarded as the panacea for achieving market differentiation. UK airline Virgin Atlantic is currently trying different wearable technology gadgets – including Google Glass and Sony’s Smartwatch technology – in an attempt to personalise some of the customer touch-points during an air-passengers’ journey. The tests are currently running at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 to enhance service experiences for upper class passengers (Skift 2014).
REAL-TIME INFORMATION UPDATES
In essence, Virgin Atlantic uses a dispatch app developed by air-travel IT specialist SITA to enhance customer experiences and improve service efficiency. When passengers show up at the Heathrow T3 Upper Class wing, personal information is pushed to the concierge’s wearable device. In addition, it provides real-time information updates about the flight times of the passenger, as well as the weather and local events at the destination. The technology is also used to translate and provide foreign language information.
SITA states on their website that in future the technology could also be used to inform Virgin inflight staff on passengers’ personal preferences, such as dietary requirement, refreshment preferences or anything else that could provide a more personal service experience.
GIMMICK OR INNOVATION
Virgin Atlantic is certainly pushing the boundaries of technology, in an attempt to provide innovation in the service sector. However, the question remains whether the likes of Google Glass are just a gimmick or a serious alternative to reengineering service processes. Tablets and smartphones have already been adapted successfully in the hospitality industry to give front-line staff access to CRM systems, and thereby provide customers more personal service experiences. Thus, in the near future we will certainly witness further technology enabled innovations in the service sector.
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