In 2021, I participated in a 3-day hackathon called “Hack the Normal” where our team worked on a fintech project called Boku. Although challenging and intense, it was fun and after the hackathon, I found myself wanting another challenge. Fascinated by the aviation industry, I immediately applied for the SITA 2021 Hackathon.
With this hackathon, participants are tasked to build projects that fall into these categories:
- “Passenger Experience – with changing priorities of air travel passengers, the industry constantly needs to introduce new solutions and services that will improve the passenger experience and make them feel more at ease while flying.
- Cargo & Baggage – COVID has sped up the adoption of digital technologies in cargo and baggage by several years. What out of the box solutions can we further create to boost the digitalization efforts in these areas? Potential areas could be vaccine logistics, sustainability, cost reduction and tracing.
- Airport of the Future – with the ever-changing transportation realm and with airports offering an array of services and retail options, we’re excited to see what participants envision will stay or become a part of the future traveler’s journey.
- AI & Data (Open challenge) – this is an open challenge where we’d like to see participants creativity and innovation while using the APIs and data sets that are available to them.”
Working solo, I built TRIPPP which falls under the “Passenger Experience” category.
Team and Role
Solo (UI, UX, Dev)
12 – 21 March 2021
I knew what I wanted to do when I signed up for the hackathon – build a travel application where people can find information about flights and make bookings. At that time, I thought it was the best idea but I had a change of mind after attending the welcome session. Learning more about SITA and what they do, opened my eyes to different possibilities and ideas. In addition, the ideation session for aviation startups taught me about problem-solving and putting the user first. I had to scratch my initial idea.
A new idea
Reading through the 4 challenges again, another idea popped up – build an app for a new traveler. Great, what challenges do new travelers face? And does SITA have a similar project? I did not want to build something they had already. To answer my last question, I started by reading the materials given to us at the start of the hackathon. Snippets from materials given:
- In 2018, 65% of passengers said they would definitely like to use their mobiles to report mishandled bags.
- According to IATA’s 2018 Global Passenger Survey, 84% of passengers are demanding bag tracking. Knowing where their bags are is delivering reassurance for travelers and benefits airlines.
- Satisfaction among those who received real-time collection updates on their mobiles was 8.6% higher than those who relied on screens or public announcements.
SITA Health ETA
- Studies have shown that going mobile not only puts us back in control but that it also increases passenger satisfaction and the likelihood of more spending in airport retail.
Enabling Low-touch Airport
- With Smart PathTM passengers can verify their identity at their leisure in advance of travel via their mobile phone. This means they can arrive at the airport pre-checked, going straight to a self-bag drop location or directly through security – a faster and hassle-free approach with minimal contact along the way.
- As well as making passengers happier, biometric gates are significantly faster in operation than traditional manual processes, helping reduce queues and avoiding congestion.
Airport and Safe Traveling
- Self-service biometric solutions.
- Remote help desk support can assist self-service passengers by answering questions and remotely printing boarding passes and bag tags.
- Contactless Boarding Card Collection and Bag Drop.
After reading the materials, I did more research online. I wanted to understand what people experience when they travel. As well as understand the impact of covid on the travel industry. I found common issues and made notes of them:
My Personal Experience
Learning more about the challenges that new travelers face, reminded me of the first time I came to Ghana. If I did not have my aunt, uncle, and sister by my side, I am certain I would have missed my flight or lost my way. I had many questions running through my mind:
Being an introvert and having anxiety, did not help. Thankfully my aunt traveled frequently so I simply followed her lead.
I’ve read through the materials, researched, and tapped into my personal experience. Next – filter all the information and make a list of all the problems.
Once I was done with this, I decided to sort the travelers I want to target into two groups:
“A 2019 global passenger survey from International Air Transport Association (IATA), has shown that passengers are looking to technology to improve their travel experience for more control and less waiting times” (Source: InternationalAirportReview(dot)com).
As I read more, similar things popped up:
- Passengers want to control more aspects of their travel (from booking to arrival) using their smartphones.
- Passengers want to stay updated throughout their journey (status of their flight, track baggage).
- Passengers would like to plan their airport movements and know wait times at checkpoints.
- Passengers would like to use Biometric Data to speed up the boarding process and have a contactless experience.
I looked at different travel products and made a list of their features. Having a goal in place made it easy for me to filter my list and pick products that resonate with the problem I am trying to solve.
After studying similar products, it made it easy for me to define the features of my project. I made a list of every idea I could think of and afterward, I filtered this list based on my goal and time constraint.
Looking through my feature list, I picked ideas I could easily implement given the time left and I outlined the pages and content.
Using this as a guide, I built the prototype using the data from SITA open APIs
I defined the project as a “personal travel companion” called TRIPPP. The goal of TRIPPP is to help travelers stay updated and informed before, during, and after their trip.
I imagined TRIPPP as an A.I. but I did not have the time nor the technical skill to create what was in my head. To make up for this, I found and modified an illustration from icons8.
Leveraging on SITA and third-party APIs, TRIPPP can:
- Suggest what to pack based on (destination) weather
- Show users the location of their bags (carousel). So they know where to go as soon as they land
- Trippp recommends places (hotels, bars, restaurants) based on your preferences (via 3rd party API like TripAdvisor)
- Show users the weather forecasts for their destination
- Help users keep track of their baggage during their trip. Know where your bag is while in transit
- Use airport information to show wait times at checkpoints
- Use flight information to know your boarding time, Gate number, and status of the flight
- Based on user information on signup (name, passport-type/country), Trippp suggests travel information/requirements
- Using the flight number and user details, Trippp can generate a boarding pass for the user (SITA boarding pass API).
A snapshot of all your trips (current and past).
Going on an adventure? Answer a few questions and let TRIPPP do the heavy lifting.
Based on the information you give TRIPPP, it will generate everything you need to know about your destination.
To conclude my project, here are two quotes from an article I read:
“A new report by ACI World confirms and quantifies what the advocates of seamless passenger experience have said for a long time: happier passengers spend more money at airports” (Source: Iam-Iha.com)
“… for every 1% increase in passenger satisfaction, airport, non-aeronautical revenue (NAR), which includes airport retail revenue increases by 1.5%” (Source: Iam-Iha.com)
First place – totally unexpected.
Challenges, learnings and next step
The major challenges would be fear and doubt which led to procrastination. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to build a project that would be worthy of third place but winning changed everything. The most valuable lesson here would be to trust yourself.
Another lesson would be, to have an open mind and be willing to pivot. I came into this hackathon with an idea of what I wanted to build. But once I started attending workshops, I realized I could do something better and I’m glad I allowed myself to be flexible enough to put my initial idea side.
Fail fast and learn faster.
For the next step, I plan on expanding TRIPPP further – build an MVP and get user feedback.
Illustration: Icons8 (by Natasha Remarchuk).
UI Kit: Agron UI kit by CreativeTim.