August 14 2020  |  Airlines & Airports

Contactless food ordering system aims to boost airport safety

By Mary Jane Pittilla

Passengers using the new system can locate food service options, browse menus, place an order and pay the bill, all from their mobile device

A new contactless food ordering system for travelers has been launched, targeted at airport operators and airlines.

The new system is made possible through the integration of the web version of LocusLabs’ indoor mapping and location platform with Grab’s airport mobile ordering platform.

The integration allows travelers to find food vendors near their location in the airport terminal, place a mobile order, and use step-by-step wayfinding to navigate to the vendor, all within a browser window on a mobile device without having to download a dedicated mobile application.

Grab is an airport e-commerce platform that connects participating airport restaurants and stores to travelers and enables contactless ordering and payments, aiming to provide an efficient process that reduces the spread of germs by minimizing human interaction.

The functionality was first deployed in the maps at the new state-of-the-art LaGuardia Terminal B by LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the manager and developer of the terminal and a member of Vantage Airport Group.

Steve Thody, Senior Director, Project Initiatives, Vantage Airport Group, said: “We’re pleased to partner with LocusLabs and Grab to maintain safety, improve efficiency and enhance the passenger experience at LaGuardia Terminal B and across our broader network of airports.

“Vantage has always embraced the opportunity to do things differently. As our work on a contactless airport journey, from digital wayfinding and signage to hands-free ordering and payment, was already under way prior to COVID-19, Vantage and its partners are well positioned to help travelers navigate the new reality of air travel precipitated by the pandemic.”

Retail promotion on airport signage

For airports and airlines that activate the Grab integration in their LocusLabs smart maps, their passengers will be able to locate food service options, browse menus, place an order and pay the bill, all from their mobile device browser.

By ordering and paying directly from their mobile device, travelers can avoid touching menus, bills and credit card machines.

Additionally, airports and airlines can use QR codes on airport signage to promote food, retail and service options, automatically launching a map that highlights the locations of restaurants and shops and allows travelers to place a mobile order through Grab. ­­

As the leader in connected mapping for aviation, LocusLabs offers digital maps for more than 100 airports globally, and partners with more than a dozen of the world’s largest airlines.

The Grab platform, available for iOS and Android devices, can be used at any participating airport by entering the airport name. Participating merchants are searchable by food/shop type and location such as by nearby terminals or gates. Easy-to-follow navigation is then provided to the pick-up destination.

“The integration of LocusLabs maps with Grab functionality gives hungry travelers everything they need right at their fingertips and puts the power in their hands to help stay safe and avoid queues as they navigate through the airport,” said Jeff Livney, Chief Experience Officer at Grab.

“Our combined technology minimizes staff and passenger interaction to give both groups peace of mind, reducing the burden on the airport team and information desk, and helping people to social distance.”

Upcoming webinar

LocusLabs will be hosting a panel-based webinar on August 27 to discuss topics such as:

  • Using map-based digital directories that are accessible on personal devices as a communication channel for safety precautions;
  • How mobile ordering and payments for airport concessions can limit congestion;
  • What COVID-19 has taught aviation leaders about traveler behaviors;
  • The future of air travel in a post-pandemic world, and how the measures being taken today could change the way airports operate.

Representatives from Grab, Vantage Airport Group, Seattle Tacoma International Airport and LocusLabs will be participating.

To register for the webinar, visit: COVID-19 Safety at the Airport. The webinar will be held at 10am PST on August 27.

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