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Orlando Int'l Airport hops on beacons bandwagon with new app

Orlando International Airport is joining the trickle of airports integrating with beacon technology to offer travelers directions to important locations such as ticket counters, baggage claim and gates by teaming up with Aruba Networks to leverage its ?blue dot? GPS navigation and wireless network.

Orlando International, one of the nation?s busiest airports, will now be able to provide users of its mobile application with step-by-step instructions to designated points of interest in terminals, as well as deliver critical information about flights. It is also tapping Aruba Network?s wireless solution to allow travelers to easily check their emails and obtain services from the app.

?Orlando International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the nation, welcoming travelers from all over the world,? said Jeff Hardison, director at Aruba Networks, Sunnyvale, CA. ?With the Aruba Beacons and Aruba Meridian-powered mobile app, the airport can now help a traveler search for and navigate directly to nearly 1,000 amenities.

?Today's travelers are typically in a rush, but at the same time looking for that precise gift or dining option during their limited time in an airport,? he said. ?When used with the Aruba Beacons, Orlando?s Meridian-powered mobile app becomes a mobile concierge for travelers in the airport, directing them with turn-by-turn directions to, say, the nearest restroom, the one store that sells handmade soaps for a loved one back home, or ice cream for traveling families.?

Mobile engagement solution
Airports are ideal facilities to implement mobile engagement solutions into, as they are packed with domestic and foreign travelers seeking directions to their departure gates, baggage claims, help desks and more. By offering a singular mobile app, visitors can access all of their pertinent information in one spot, which lessens the burden for airport and airline employees.

The ?blue dot? GPS function can also indicate a user?s position and offer them a path to get to their desired location, a feature that may resonate well with international guests.

While Orlando International Airport is currently not providing commerce options within the app, such as beacon-enabled push notifications with deals for in-terminal shops or restaurants, it may do so in the near future.

?Venues that use the Aruba Beacons certainly have the ability to send push notifications for deals from tenants such as restaurants and stores,? Mr. Hardison said. ?However, Orlando Airport is not currently using their Aruba Meridian-powered mobile app to send these types of notifications.

?Currently, they are testing proximity-based notifications with Aruba Beacons to send less promotional information such as reminders about where a traveler may have parked.?

Way of the future
While placing beacons in busy areas such as streets of metropolitan cities may not currently be feasible, it seems likely that more airports will follow in Orlando?s footsteps and roll out mobile applications equipped to integrate with beacons.

This past November, Miami International Airport also rolled out a mobile application leveraging bilingual functionalities, real-time flight tracking and navigational beacons designed to streamline and personalize travelers? experiences at the facility (see story).

Orlando International Airport beacon deployment consists of more than 1,000 Aruba access points.

?Aruba Networks is fortunate to work with many airports around the world, and we're seeing many of these public venues select Aruba Beacons to power the contextual aspects of their mobile apps,? Mr. Hardison said. ?Orlando Airport is the first Aruba Beacons customer that we're announcing in the airport industry, and we're expecting more airports to adopt beacons.

?Adopting beacons makes sense as airports resemble shopping malls, yet with visitors who have limited time to make a choice. Aruba Beacons can help those harried travelers find exactly what they're looking for quickly, reducing stress and increasing their loyalty to that airport.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York