Skift Take

With nearly all airlines saying they want to implement biometrics at their airport service centers, there's money in helping them make that happen.

Amadeus envisions a future where its facial-recognition technology could be used throughout a passenger’s journey at the airport: check-in, bag drop and tracking, boarding, border control, and more.

That would allow pre-verified passengers to more freely flow through corridors without needing people to manually check documents.

Making that a reality was a key factor behind the company’s move to acquire Vision-Box for $348 million.

The company needs to be able to deploy tech at border control checkpoints. Amadeus already has biometrics tech deployed in some airport lobbies and boarding gates, but the tech needs to cover the full air travel journey in order to be seamless.

“We were missing one thing at the airport, and that was border control,” said Decius Valmorbida, president of travel for Amadeus, during a press event on Wednesday. “If [the Vision-Box acquisition] goes through, we’re going to be able to offer end-to-end possibility for an airport in terms of processing of the passenger.” 

Vision-Box technology powers 33% of the planet’s “e-gates” in airports, he said. 

Air travel may be getting the most focus now, but Amadeus could sell biometrics tech to other clients as well, like hotels. 

“I think that’s where we enter into the future of what we believe in terms of ecosystem and biometrics,” Valmorbida said. “I gave an air example, but I think we can move those examples into other customer verticals. So I think that’s our ambition.”

The Industry Is Adopting Biometrics 

Amadeus provided details about Vision-Box along with results from an Amadeus survey that covers plans for various digital transformations across travel sectors, including biometrics.

Amadeus interviewed more than 1,200 travel technology “decision makers” at companies in 10 countries: The U.S., UK, France, Germany, UAE, Mexico, Brazil, India, China, and South Korea.

Half of airports surveyed and a third of airlines plan to implement biometrics in the next 12 months. And 60% of airports said they plan to install biometrics fully throughout the airport in the next five years, including for check-in, bag-drop, lounges, and boarding.

The survey also found that 98% of airlines have implemented or plan to implement biometrics at their airport stations.

Meanwhile, biometric tech companies and their clients will have to deal with ongoing concerns and legal hurdles involving data privacy. 

The greater survey by Amadeus signals what it says is an industry-wide tech transformation under way. 

The survey found that plans for investment in 2024 are 14% higher than the year prior, and 91% of travel companies expect “moderate to aggressive” increases in tech investment this year.

Below are a few sector-specific highlights:

  • Full-service airlines expect a more modern Amazon-like retailing experience to take hold in the next four years, which they foresee leading to an 18% increase in revenue.
  • 85% of hotel execs believe that personalization could lead to revenue growth of more than 5%.
  • More than two-thirds of hotel execs expect to increase tech investment in the next year.
  • A third of travel payments leaders plan to implement more seamless global payments methods in the next year. 
  • A third of corporate travel managers plan to completely digitize the expense management process over the next year. 
  • Travel agencies plan to increase tech spend by 13% this year.

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Tags: airports, amadeus, biometrics, mergers and acquisitions

Photo credit: The five largest airports in Portugal are trying biometrics tech from Vision-Box. VINCI Airports

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