Travel has always been a tiring task for seniors. To their credit, travel providers have been at the forefront of innovation, constantly making changes to enhance and improve the travelling experience for older customers.
Now is the perfect time to rethink travel for seniors, to provide them with the best possible experience. Why? Because we now have enough technology to ensure that older passengers have a smooth, simple and stress-free travel experience. Here are just a few ways in which mobile technology can bring real benefits to seniors:
Mobile apps are now available for practically every possible use. Today, almost every individual in developed countries has a smartphone. Lots of these smartphones are so easy to pick up and use that they have gained popularity amongst seniors as well as children. Older people tend to use these devices for various applications, from staying in touch with their family to viewing pictures of their grandchildren, to reminding them to take their medication.
When it comes to travel, apps can do wonders for seniors. Here are three scenarios based on the mode of transport seniors pick:
Walk / Cycle / Mobility Scooter:
When travelling by road, either by walking, cycling or using a mobility scooter, mobile apps can help seniors keep track of the route they need to take to quickly reach their destination. The same app could even give them information on where zebra crossings are located, and where they can find public seats to rest for a while, making travel easier for those with limited mobility.
When travelling by metro or bus, seniors can be alerted when they are approaching the relevant station, enabling them to prepare well in advance of getting off. The same app could provide them with accurate information on arrival and departure times, and the current status of the bus or train.
When travelling by Air, seniors can be assisted with the use of multiple apps, from basic travel itineraries and ticket handling, to information about the airport they will be visiting. Along with these, an app that helps the user to learn and understand basic transactions, as well as information about their destination, could be really helpful.
The next big thing after the apps revolution is the wearables revolution. One of the biggest markets wearables are currently targeting is the fitness market. However, there is also huge market potential for seniors. Wearables, combined with smart software designed by mobile app developers, can make life much easier for seniors in particular.
When it comes to travel, wearables like the Apple Watch with a taptic engine can generate small haptic feedback to users. This can be used to notify the wearer of things such as reaching their destination, that their bus is ready to leave, or that their flight has started the boarding process. Some seniors experience difficulty in hearing, adding to the general chaos during travel. As they may not hear phone notifications in busy crowds, haptic feedback can serve an important purpose. Wearables like the Apple Watch are easy to check and can provide vital travel information.
JFK airport has recently launched a program to install beacons that interact with travellers’ phones and guide them to their gates and destinations. Beacons could guide seniors around the airport and possibly enable airport authorities to monitor where older passengers are, so they can assist them in reaching their destination easily. Similarly, airports, bus stations or metro stations could identify seniors with special needs or requirements, by connecting to their mobile devices or wearables. In doing so, they could assist them without passengers having to actively search for assistance when they reach the departure venue.
Technology has finally reached a point where seniors may no longer need to carry many documents or even tickets while travelling. They can just use their smartphone or smartwatch to check in for their mode of transport. Meanwhile, devices like smart tags would make it a lot easier to identify their luggage at their destination, to reduce the risk of missing baggage. Of course, many of these features and benefits apply to everyone. But for the older generation, these technologies will make life a lot easier, enabling them to have both independence and security while travelling.