Tourism & hospitality

The language barrier

New York’s JFK airport has partnered with Google to adopt Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode technology at its Terminal 4 as part of a scheme to break down language barriers. ABI MILLAR takes a look at this new technology and more broadly at the importance of being able to communicate easily and confidently in this setting.

Airports can be stressful environments at the best of times. As well as dealing with potential queues, delays, crowds and cancellations, passengers need to work out how to navigate an unfamiliar space and board their flight within a narrow time window.

These stresses, while universal to some extent, are magnified for those who don’t speak the local language. If you can’t make sense of the signage, it’s easy to get lost. And if you don’t understand the airport announcements, you may struggle when there’s a delay or change of gate.

These challenges are set to become more prevalent as passenger numbers grow and their demographics become more diverse. According to IATA, we are seeing ‘a geographic reshuffling of world air traffic to the East’, with the Asia-Pacific region driving most of the growth in passenger numbers. In other words, we’ll see more Chinese, Indian and Indonesian travellers navigating foreign airports, and more foreign travellers navigating Asian ones. Airport translation services are a must.

Read the rest of this article in the April 2020 edition of Airport Industry Review 

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