Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Could the travel industry learn from time clocks

When the nonprofit I work with had a thrift shop keeping up with volunteer hours and employee time records was a challenge.

I was used to the basic time clock where you put your time sheet in and the time prints out. Wow. Have things ever changed. Finding out about the variety of time clocks that are available today caught me off guard.I wonder if technology from any of the following could help the travel industry?

Here is a sampling of a few types that are on the market.

Web based time clocks.
These are connected to the internet via a land line or cable modem or through your office WI-FI. As employees sign in and out the time is recorded online. Management can access records online or via a web enabled cell phone.

Employee badges
These work with a code on an employee badge. All the employee has to do is flash their company badge at the clock as they go by. These remind me of the checkout line at the grocery store.

Fingerprint time clock
Employees scan their fingerprint when hired. From that time on they just scan their fingerprint to clock in and out. So much for clocking a friend in when running late or clocking them out when their hands are full.

Face recognition
Think “fingerprint scan” except with your face. Some of the photo sharing sites are using facial recognition to help you sort photos. Now, employees can sign in and out of their jobs with facial recognition.

Hand punch time clock
Thankfully, the old fashioned punch-out time clock clock is still available. Companies with only a few employees may find this time clock to be the most affordable.

I can see some applications for this technology that could be used for the travel industry. Hotel and motel loyalty cards could contain a photo or bar code. Instead of waiting to verify address or phone the loyalty card could be scanned. The guest could still go online to update their travel itineraries or home information.

Surely the TSA could figure out some way to adopt this technology to speed up airport check-in. Almost anything that could make airline travel easier would have to be a good thing. If not already in use, the technology could be used by airline employees themselves to make travel more secure.

Right now though, we'll have to sit back and be impressed by the different time clocks that are available. It should be interesting to see how the technology adapts.