The Internet of Things is the network of physical devices connected by electronics in communication. IoT technologies are changing the way we send and receive information, and the way we conduct our professional and personal lives. 

In the business travel industry, the potential applications of IoT technologies are limitless. The travel industry leads the world in internet of things investment, with carriers, hotels, travel management companies and corporate travellers themselves all exploring new ways to create value. 

Below are the top five Internet of Things innovations in the corporate travel industry to date.


1. KLM Airlines and the FlightBeat Program

A SITA study conducted in 2015 found 86% of airlines believed the Internet of Things would provide “clear benefits over the next three years.” Those predicted benefits already being realised, with carriers exploring how to use IoT innovations to improve traveller comfort and safety. 

Biometric measurement technology is one of the most innovative ways carriers are using IoT technology. Through a cabin element (like a seat or a blanket), embedded with sensors that monitor passenger hydration, heart rate and temperature, cabin staff can offer a hyper-personalised service to business class travellers. 

This was the premise behind the FlightBeat project, developed by Dutch students in partnership with KLM Airlines. The program used ECG-embedded cabin seats to communicate passenger data in real time to a flight attendant’s tablet device.


2. British Airways and the Happiness Blanket

In the same vein as the KLM FlightBeat program was an ‘experiment’ by British Airways called the ‘Happiness Blanket’. Pegged as a way for British Airways to market their improvements to cabin seats and hospitality, the Happiness Blanket was actually a great litmus test for how carriers can use biometric data to differentiate their service.

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Passengers involved in the Happiness Blanket tests, conducted in 2014, were asked to wear portable neuro-sensors attached to a headband. The sensors measure neurological fluctuations in the brain, communicating those to the Happiness Blanket via Bluetooth. If the passengers emitted stressed or anxious signals, the Blanket would turn red. When feeling calm and relaxed, the Blanket turned blue. This gave cabin staff a simple visualisation of passengers that required attention.

Despite the headway carriers have made in using biometric passenger data, they face a few considerable roadblocks before the technology becomes practical. Passenger privacy concerns and government regulations are, for the moment, limiting the application of this IoT innovation.


3. Improving the Airport Experience With IoT

According to Dave Bartlett, technology chief at GE Aviation, Internet of Things technology has the potential to soothe a number of pain points along the passenger journey.

“Being able to track your bags from a smartphone app or even the bags tracking your location,” he says. 

“The bag senses when you enter the luggage area and selects the carousel you’re standing closest to and enters that carousel.”

Bartlett also envisions a world where airports assume a helpful personality of their own, alerting passengers of gate changes and delays in real time.


4. Delta and RFID Technology 

In 2016, Delta emerged as a frontrunner in IoT application when it became the first US airline to use RFID baggage tracking. The RFID tags are set to eliminate the well-worn barcode scanning system for tracking luggage, and allow passengers to receive real-time luggage location information through the popular Fly Delta smartphone app.

Furthermore, the RFID tags will connect with the belt loading indicators, with a red light displaying when a bag is entering the wrong plane. 

Delta’s investment in RFID tracking tags will top $50 million and is a sign of things to come for empowered corporate travellers.


5. IoT Goes Eco-Friendly

Travellers aren’t the only ones who are enjoying the spoils of IoT innovations. Carriers are finding ways to use the technology to reduce their ecological footprint and save considerably in the process. And in an age where sustainability is becoming a must-have, especially for younger corporate travellers, carriers who invest in eco-friendly solutions are investing in a competitive advantage.  

AirAsia is using IoT technology to improve its fuel management program. The Flight Efficiency Services monitors precise navigation routes, flight data and fuel usage to optimise the aircraft in real time. AirAsia estimate that the program with save anywhere between $30 and $50 million by 2021. 

To read more about the trends redefining corporate travel, download your free copy of our popular resource, ‘5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017’ below: 

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