Covid-19: How HOI app took passenger to his parents, guiding him at every step
Contactless travel or travel with minimum contact has become the need of the hour, as passengers are looking to cut the channels of Covid-19 infection
Amit Kumar, a frequent flyer, has to travel from Delhi to Hyderabad to check his parents' health. Travelling in the time of Covid-19 has become an onerous and indeed risky affair.
'Safe, Smart and Seamless' travel has assumed paramount importance in this era of the pandemic. Contactless travel or travel with minimum contact has become the need of the hour, as passengers are looking frantically to maintain social distance and cut the channels of infection.
There is an acknowledgement that air travel is one of the easiest avenues for the coronavirus to travel considering the ambit and reach of air travel. You never know where your co-passengers, cabin crew, the ground staff who talks to you, or for that matter, anybody in the airport or the aircraft, had been. You would not know if he/she is carrying the virus.
As an aviation old-timer said in a recent chat with Plane Vanilla, "It just takes one person somewhere down the line to have some disease and it travels." Talking about the difficulties faced by the aircrew, he said, "However well-masked you may be, you would have to take your mask off to have a glass of water, to have tea or to have a meal." Passengers are prone to the same dangers.
Kumar, therefore, opts for a travel companion that makes his travel safe, smart, seamless and contactless. Mobile apps today promise to simplify air travel to an extent never known before.
These apps like the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Travel Pass seeks to collate all Covid-related test results and vaccine information of the passengers under one roof, so that they act like virtual vaccine passports, which could well be a mandatory requirement, especially for international travel, in the foreseeable future. They also provide information on Covid-related government requirements/restrictions at the place that a person is flying to, helping him to manage his travel securely and conveniently.
These digital apps have, therefore, allowed not just the passengers, but also airlines, airports, governments and immigration staff to breathe a sigh of relief at a time when the series of health checks that the pandemic has necessitated has tended to make air travel cumbersome.
Get all the information on boarding and flight status on your mobile phone through HOI. Image courtesy: HOI
Vaccine passports that have been talked about in recent times include IBM's New York State’s Excelsior Pass, which uses blockchain to communicate with state vaccination records or with health providers; Airbus's Tripset digital passport; AirAsia's Scan2Fly, developed for select routes, including Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Singapore; the New York-based CommonPass, which has partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to launch trials with carriers like Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic; and other country and airline-specific passes.
Kumar takes the help of HOI (which means 'Hello' in Dutch), India's unique digital travel app for flyers. The GMR-run Delhi and Hyderabad airports have partnered with the passenger engagement platform HOI to assist passengers at every stage of their travel, right from their homes to the end destinations. Importantly, the app also provides information on the location of Covid-19 testing facilities at the airport and the packages offered.
Last year, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India vision, the two airports in association with HOI, had adopted a contactless food-ordering service. Since then, the app has accumulated various features and expanded to emerge as the one-stop solution to all passenger worries. With a primacy being put on social distancing and emphasis being also on minimising contact with various surfaces that can house the coronavirus, the HOI app is a real boon.
Read on to know how the HOI app assists Kumar at every stage to make his journey easy, comfortable and seamless.
To start the process, Kumar first uploads his travel details in the app. This can either be done by manually entering the details or by scanning the upcoming travel documents. The app then offers a plethora of valuable features that assist him at every stage of his travel.
A day before travel
Kumar is reminded by HOI of his upcoming flight schedule and informed about the weather forecast of both Delhi and Hyderabad. Kumar gets to know that it is raining heavily in Hyderabad through the app and is prepared for the inclement weather. He packs a raincoat and other materials so that he can protect himself and his luggage from the rain.
Get news on gate change and even weather at your destination through HOI. Image courtesy: HOI
On HOI, Kumar checks the baggage weight that he is permitted to carry on the specific flight. This helps him plan and pack his baggage accordingly.
HOI reminds him to web check-in, after which he scans his boarding pass to update other details, such as PNR. This saves him from the long queues of check-in and also makes the journey contactless.
Day of travel
Using HOI, Kumar pre-orders a gift that he has planned to carry for his family from a list of top 10,000 products from across 80 popular outlets and brands covering diverse categories such as duty-free, retail, food and beverage, lounges, parking, cabs and so on.
The 'Scan and Shop' feature of HOI serves as a 100% contactless shopping solution whereby Kumar can pick up a product from the shelf, scan its bar code, pay digitally and self-check-out, reducing his wait time at the Delhi airport.
With HOI's intuitive trip recommendation feature, Kumar gets real-time alerts about gate changes from his current location, helping him smartly plan his cab bookings based on various factors such as traffic, time to check-in, time for security (immigration for international travellers) checking and distance to boarding gate, truly leveraging the travel companion's help.
Once at the airport, Kumar is facilitated with auto-check-in (if not already checked in).
HOI notifies Kumar that his baggage has been loaded into the aircraft by scanning his bag tag information, giving him much-required relief.
After his check-in, Kumar connects effortlessly to the airport wi-fi through HOI with just a click of a button. He is made aware of exciting shopping and dining offers that are currently available at the airport. Now that he has to reach his favourite gift outlet, where he has to collect his pre-ordered gift, Kumar takes the help of the voice-supported indoor navigation system powered by HOI, which helps him locate the shop and thereafter head to the lounge.
On his way to the boarding gate, Kumar uses the indoor maps of HOI to discover the nearest washroom as well as other airport facilities that he wishes to avail.
Seated at the boarding gate and with 30 more minutes to spare, Kumar feels the need of ordering a freshly-brewed cappuccino and sandwich from one of the popular coffee brands at the Delhi airport but does not want to go back all the way to the food court. All he does is simply scan a QR code placed in a stand near the gate to place his orders with a selection for a gate delivery. Kumar gets a timely notification that his order has been accepted and despatched so that he does not go through any anxiety. In 10 minutes, his order gets delivered right at his gate in a contactless, safe and hygienic manner.
HOI curates the best shopping deals available at the airport. Image courtesy: HOI
Once Kumar gets notified by HOI of the final boarding call, he proceeds to board.
As a true travel companion, once Kumar lands at the Hyderabad airport, HOI notifies him of the baggage belt as well as cab options to reach his end destination.
Importantly, the HOI app also provides information on the location of Covid-19 testing facilities at the airport and the packages offered. The HOI app has seen a "rapid trend" in its mobile commerce, flight-tracking, multiple airport services and book travel features recently, according to a GMR statement. GMR said in April 2021 that the HOI platform had witnessed about 20% week-on-week growth in digital orders in the past two quarters, which shows that flyers are adopting digital solutions more and more at GMR airports. Apart from making air travel more convenient at every stage, the app's importance in the Covid-19 fight cannot be ignored.
The HOI website and app is provided by the Bengaluru-based PAX Innovation ICT Services Private Limited.