By Jason Walsh – CEO, CPP Group

Having just returned from the Christmas holidays, it is striking how it can be one of the most challenging times to travel, as people fly across the world to reunite with family and friends for the festivities and back again. 20th December 2019 saw around 225,000 people fly out of Heathrow airport alone, according to the Independent, an average of 200 people per minute. Furthermore, unpredictable circumstances, such as unforeseen snowstorms, can have a serious impact, or safety threats that can ground flights as we saw back in 2018 when unidentified drones flying over Gatwick left 10,000 people unable to fly. These factors often contribute to delayed or cancelled flights, and tired, uncomfortable customers. In December 2018, flights out of the UK alone were delayed by an average of 12 minutes, according to Eurocontrol data.

This pain point has become a core focus for technology firms that are now in the process of developing innovative remediation technologies to soften inevitable travel delay. For example, the proliferation and continued innovation into ePassports has already dramatically reduced admin time at the airport and companies like Nextt are looking to use technology to entirely change how we check in our baggage, by creating a remote service.

Set to revolutionise the way that we travel, we wanted to delve deeper into how this technology will mitigate some of these pressing issues in real time.

Current state of affairs

We are very much at the beck and call of the ‘On Demand Economy’, whereby consumers now expect and demand the immediate provisioning of goods and services from brands. This expectation is no different when it comes to travel. We now have much higher expectations when it comes to service providers communicating any issues with us.

Furthermore, we are all acutely aware of the high level of organisation required when travelling, from packing bags, arriving at the airport in plenty of time, to organising documents. To then see on the departures board that your flight is delayed, or even worse, cancelled, is certainly frustrating for all involved.

Communication is key when it comes to travelling, but for the most part, issues aren’t communicated with enough time for travellers to change their plans without incurring an additional cost. This then leaves passengers confronted with the issue of either spending many uncomfortable hours waiting at the airport or trying to desperately find a reasonably priced hotel room close by, which could likely be avoided with more advance warning of travel issues.

Innovation on the fly

Data in real-time presents a wealth of opportunity for technology innovators across the world, especially when it comes to InsurTech. Data is transmitted through vast networks across airports, travel companies, mobile apps, and every second something is changing.

The smallest of incidents can cause a major disruption to a traveller’s schedule, as was evidenced by 2018’s drone stunt at Gatwick. But with all the readily available information, it can often take a surprisingly large amount of time for airlines to communicate disruption back to customers, even though the data which is needed to inform them is already within their systems.

Advances in data analytics and automation now allow real-time communication and remediation with customers. For instance, Blink, CPP’s Irish-based InsurTech, named in The INSURTECH100 for 2019, an annual list of the worlds’ most innovative InsurTech companies, is pioneering real time flight disruption insurance across a range of partners. Its technology is based on monitoring flight data in real time and a range of specific algorithms which detect delays to travel plans and automate remediation. Instantly, passengers are informed of a flight delay or cancellation and are presented with a range of options depending on the status of their flight, such as if the delay is three hours, customers can either access lounge facilities or instant cash pay-out or select from a range of alternative flight options in the case of cancellation.

To the future and beyond

This form of insurance is trigger-based, whereby pay-out is agreed on the basis of a certain event occurring. With the combination of this style of insurance and technology, insurance offerings can deliver for their customers faster than ever before, rather than having to go through a claim process in order to seek compensation. We believe this form of insurance will be one of the biggest disruptors in the industry, and beyond, for the coming years.

No one wants to be delayed at this time of year, as there are often family and friends waiting at the other end or exciting holiday plans in place to beat the January blues. With a huge amount of people travelling at this time of year, one delay could disrupt the happy plans of many. Whilst delay remediation can’t make up for lost family time, it can numb the sting of it. The continued innovation into InsurTech offerings will mean that less time is spent fretting over money lost due to a cancelled flight and passengers spend less time in the dark about their journeys. I’m looking forward to seeing what CPP can achieve in this field in 2020 through investment in our InsurTech and digital capabilities in the travel space.

This article was originally published on Global Banking and Finance Review.