People miss travel. People want to travel. But to unlock this pent-up demand, travel and transportation providers need to adopt and integrate contactless technologies to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. It’s part of the commitment to increased safety and security for customers and employees alike. The key will be designing contactless experiences that also offer transparency and hospitality.
Our JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV) team is exploring the scope of contactless mobility as we move forward with this new standard of operations. Prior to this year, contactless services were most often seen in payments — a simple tap of a credit card or phone would complete your transaction without the need to touch a shared keypad or exchange currency with another person. Now, we’re seeing a necessity for these solutions across the entire economy to make consumers feel safe and cared for.
We’re looking at contactless solutions that reduce person-to-person touchpoints, including those that place additional control in the hands of customers and increase awareness of behavioral measures they can take to lower risk. We’re also seeking technologies that can simplify or streamline the customer travel journey by removing steps or relocating actions to earlier in the journey (e.g. pre-verify identity or pre-order retail).
We’re interested in startups that can be applied across all stages and elements of the end-to-end customer travel journey:
There are always complexities and challenges to think through when exploring startups for new use cases. Here are a few we’re considering as we dig into contactless mobility solutions:
- There are still many uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 itself, such as to what extent antibodies may confer immunity or the contagiousness of asymptomatic individuals. Health and security standards are quickly evolving, which influences what new solutions and technologies are needed and most effective.
- The aviation industry is one with a culture of safety first with many constraints to account for, even prior to the pandemic. Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the constrained geometry within an aircraft cabin, and weight/balance requirements all affect any potential solutions implemented in the air.
- Newer contactless solution providers and technologies — including those who have recently pivoted to enter this space — may not yet be equipped with the scale required to implement quickly and cost-effectively or the verification and testing to meet the recent deluge of demand.
- There is already a litany of different approaches to enable contactless mobility (and just as many use cases that we can’t yet imagine). Which technologies and business models will be here to stay?
Opportunities in the pilot seat
With all that in mind, JTV has begun to identify a number of startups that reduce the need for human contact across the travel ribbon. Below is a snapshot. Within this realm of low touch mobility, there are many offshoots to explore, including automation, robotics, digital identity — all of which can better enable contactless mobility.
The sky’s the limit
This week, we kicked off a condensed Innovation Sprint with JetBlue Airways and our partner ecosystem to further review relevant startups and their use cases. Together, we’re identifying and exploring technologies to potentially trial to improve the safety of our industry and welcome back more travelers.
If you’re shaping this new future of contactless mobility and travel, we’d love to hear from you. Are there any startups we should know about? Please get in touch!