Could this idea revolutionise the solo travel experience at airports?

17 May 2019

Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. Image: © DianaH/

Solo travellers make up most of those going through Dublin Airport, and this prize-winning concept might make their journeys a bit easier.

Returning to Inspirefest in 2019 yesterday (16 May) was Gráinne Morrison, futurist at the Dublin Airport Future Factory, which aims to overhaul how the airport caters to those passing through it each day. Its estimates showed that 31.5m passengers used the airport in 2018, a record number that is 6pc more than in 2017.

So far it appears that the airport is doing something right when it comes to customer service, with it recently being named one of the best airports in the world in a global ranking of passenger experience based on its size.

One of the noticeable trends, Morrison said on stage, was that solo travellers dominate the demographic of those travelling through Dublin Airport, accounting for 57pc of all passengers each year. To that end, Morrison challenged attendees in the audience to think of some ideas of how to revolutionise the solo traveller experience at the airport.

By putting suggestions on a board, entrants were in with a chance to win flights for two to Hong Kong thanks to the event’s partnership with airline Cathay Pacific. Over the two days, more than 200 entries were received, but just four project finalists were asked to pitch their idea to the Inspirefest audience in just 60 seconds.

Boost for rural travel

The project finalists included: Buddy Stop, Get Lost in a Short Story, the Social Interaction app and Bus & Fly. After their pitches, the winner was revealed today (17 May) as Bus & Fly, chosen by the audience through an online poll.

The concept proposed an app that would integrate rural transport routes with Dublin Airport to help those find better connections on their journey. This would allow a user to book a flight and know in confidence how to get to the airport and back again, even from locations such as the new digital hub on the island of Arranmore, Co Donegal. It could also help boost traveller numbers to Dublin Airport by making it easier for people to travel there from various parts of the country.

While there was only one winner, each of those who pitched their ideas on stage was awarded access to the VIP terminal at Dublin Airport for their next flight.

Last year, a similar challenge was put to a number of designers to come up with eye-catching tech for Honest Eats, Dublin Airport’s self-service food option. The winner that time was revealed to be former Inspirefest speaker Kathryn Parkes for her Tap Tap station.

Similar in style to a vending machine, the Tap Tap differs in that it also has a human-sized video screen containing a smiling Irish tap dancer. Using pre-recorded video and some clever looping software, for all intents and purposes, it seems as if there is a person right beside you.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event celebrating the point where science, technology and the arts collide.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic