Ready for take-off? KLM is showcasing brands how wearable tech and the smartwatch can be helping and hyping at the same time.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has just launched a trial with Android smartwatch technology that will provide passengers with specific trip information. Besides supplying passengers with their boarding pass, the app assists with all relevant airport-related activities.

Over the years I have been writing several stories on how KLM surprised consumers with virals, content marketing, WhatsApp as a customer service tool, and social seating.

Now KLM seems to have found a sweet spot of its frequent flyers and business travelers with wearable tech device called the Android smartwatch.

But besides feathers, I will also give KLM critical feedback. For the fact that their digital brand programming seems to be stuck at advertising and marketing, but now needs to level up to products and brands.

I will also talk about the role of wearable tech in the future of the airline, airport, travel, leisure and mobility industries.

What Value Will The Android Smartwatch App Add?

Smartwatch owners who install the KLM app on their Android smartphone will be able to check their flight overview in KLM’s smartwatch app any time after making a booking. They will start receiving trip-related notifications 24 hours ahead of their departure.

Wearable In Travel: KLM Launches Android Smartwatch App by Igor Beuker, Pro Public Speaker, Author and Awakener

Upon entering Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s “geofence”, passengers automatically receive a notification with gate information and their boarding time. Opening the notification allows the passenger to swipe between all relevant flight information.

An hour before departure, passengers receive a message with their boarding pass, ready to be scanned at the gate. A final notification with the passenger’s seat number is sent just before departure.

In line with this vision, KLM last year launched an airport navigation service using iBeacon technology that helps transfer passengers find their next gate at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

“The KLM smartwatch app allows passengers to find relevant and up-to-date flight information at a glance. In the future, we will further link technologies to offer innovative services ensuring that passengers are always a step ahead on their journey”, said Tjalling Smit, Senior Vice President of E-Commerce at Air France-KLM.

Yes of course. After the test, KLM will also launch the app for the Apple Watch.

Android smartwatch owners can download the app in the Google Play store.

Other Wearable Tech Ideas In The Travel Industry

TripCase was now among the first smartwatch travel apps, with notification support across multiple watches and platforms. With this update, you can expect to receive all of the trip notifications that you’re used to, conveniently on your wrist.

Other Wearable Tech Ideas In The Travel Industry - by Igor Beuker, Pro Public Speaker, Author & Awakener

Right, the king of buzz Richard Branson is always innovating at the speed of change.

His Virgin Atlantic passengers arriving at the Upper Class Wing at Heathrow airport were greeted by staff wearing either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2.

As soon as a passenger arrived, the technology delivered personalized information about the individual traveler directly to the member of staff’s glasses or watch, providing a unique customer experience.

Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic embraced wearable tech with Google Glass and the Sony Smartwatch 2=by Igor Beuker, Pro Public Speaker, Author & Awakener

Well, you don’t have to be a great non-linear mind to come up with other inventive ideas.

The smartphone opened our eyes already, but the combination of the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables will push the boundary so that your wallet is on you, on your smartwatch, the sleeve of your suit, and other forms to be imagined.

Ordering your Uber Black or Uber Private Jet, the smartwatch will enable it for sure in the near future.

Your restaurant reservation via SeatMe or crowd curated ratings via Yelp, it will all soon be available on your smartwatch.

Will we call it wearable commerce or smartwatch commerce? And will it get close to the ever-growing mobile commerce revenues?

My Opinion

In my opinion, KLM has proved again that they are getting there. Why?

Because KLM understands that brand storytelling is changing, and unless brands know how to tell theirs in a quick, witty and purposeful way that is native to these new platforms, they will be left behind.

My generation might be a bit more patient, millennials and screenagers however, they will give brands no slack at all.

Having said that, I also have some strategic advice for KLM. You should next try to take your digital brand programming beyond levels 4 (advertising) and 3 (marketing). Now focus on levels 2 (products) and 1 (brand). What do I mean by leveling up?

Being a frequent business flyer at KLM, I would rather see innovations on your core products: your airplanes! Because you still don’t offer Wi-Fi on board and that means that you are disconnecting me from e-mail, WhatsApp and internet for 12 hours on long haul flights, that is a reason for me to switch to another airline brand. Same goes for your business class: lower your price or upgrade it.

So being really cool in the levels 4 and 3, and launching fancy smartwatch apps: I have seen it, and I don’t need more of that. Improve your core. Your products and true brand experience.

I do know that today, wearable tech might still be in the early stages. However, I strongly believe that the use of relevant wearable technologies can help brands to facilitate consumers with a more seamless travel experience.

So my sixth sense tells me that wearable technology will play an even more important role in the future of the airline, airport, travel, leisure and mobility industries.

And of course across many other industries too. Should I mention fashion, fitness, health, medical and sports?

So, for now, wearable might seem a trick to hype and create buzz. Coming few years that will rapidly transform into smart branded utilities and services that will really help travelers.

The question to CMOs and CIOs will be: Are you innovating at the speed of change? And are you leveraging your digital brand programming across all 4 levels?

What About You?
Which ideas do you envision for wearable tech in travel? I’d love to hear your ideas.

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About the Author

In the spotlights, Igor Beuker is a top marketing innovation keynote speaker and futurist known for his foresight on trends and technologies that impact business, economy, and society. Behind the scenes, a serial entrepreneur with 5 exits and an angel investor in 24 social startups. Board member at next-level media firms, changemaker at Rolling Stone Culture Council, Hollywood sci-fi think tank pioneer, award-winning marketing strategist for Amazon, L’Oréal, Nike, and a seer for Fortune 500s, cities, and countries.

In the spotlights, Igor Beuker is a professional public speaker and futurist known for his foresight on trends and technologies that impact business, economy, and society. Behind the scenes, a social entrepreneur with 5 exits and angel investments in 24 social startups, an award-winning marketing strategist for brands like Amazon, L’Oréal, Nike, and Unilever, and a seer for Fortune 500s, organizations, foundations, and governments.