Airport Arrival Made Easier for Visitors in 2019
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Visitors to Bermuda can now complete an immigration arrival card online before they fly, saving time and making their experience through the airport more frictionless. Meantime, the move improves business intelligence gathering for marketers and could result in greater visitor spending by alerting travellers to events, activities and experiences while they’re on the island.
The digital Visitor Arrival Card launched with a test phase in mid-December of 2018. So far almost 500 travellershave taken advantage of the new option – about one-third of those have already travelled to Bermuda. From visitors and airport officials the feedback is positive.
“Making it easier to get out here and get around the island is a major part of the new National Tourism Plan,” said Bermuda Tourism Authority Chief Executive Kevin Dallas. “Our objective in the infrastructure section of the plan is to work closely with partners to encourage the use of technology in a way that improves the visitor experience. Bermuda’s Minister of National Security Wayne Caines and the team at the Department of Immigration have embraced the idea of frictionless travel and have our sincere thanks for a successful phase one launch.”
Currently visitors who fill out the Visitor Arrival Card online at BermudaArrivalCard.com must print it and bring the document with them when they travel. In the next phase, the process will be paperless, allowing travellers to show their completed form on a smartphone.
Tourism marketers see the move to a digital airport arrival as a big win for the industry. It’s the first time the Bermuda Tourism Authority has access to detailed information about specific visitors before they arrive. Currently, with a handwritten form, the information isn’t physically entered into a database until days after the visitor has left. And sometimes there are data entry errors due to illegible handwriting.
Now, with accurate information from visitors in advance, tourism officials can send pre-arrival marketing messages via email, if the visitor has opted in. In the future, travellers can receive topical messages on where to eat and which events to attend while they’re out here. The potential positive impact on visitor spend and experience is substantial.
Hoteliers, event planners, business meeting planners and other tourism stakeholders are encouraged to include a link to the arrival card in their email communications to visitors. Newstead is one local hotel already advising their guests of a more frictionless Bermuda travel experience.
Newstead General Manager Bushara Bushara said: “A smooth pre-arrival process is a critical part of a successful stay. That’s the reason we added the digital Visitor Arrival Card to our pre-arrival communications with guests. It lessens travel stress for them and fits neatly with the airport transfers, Island Tour Centre experiences and other things we encourage guests to set-up before their trip.”
The Bermuda Tourism Authority notified its database of visitors about BermudaArrivalCard.com and will be working with hotels, airline partners and tour operators to request travellers receive a link to the online card when they make their reservations.
Meantime, the existing hardcopy form is still available to travellers to fill out on the plane or when they land at L F Wade International Airport. Bermuda residents do not need to present a Visitor Arrival Card when arriving at the airport.