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Reimagining the Future of Travel to Singapore with Connect@Changi

In 2020, COVID-19 disrupted everyone’s lives, altering travel as we know it.

 

As airlines, travel agencies, hotels and airports adapted to stay-at-home orders, social distancing measures and travel restrictions, countries like Singapore were faced with the question, “How do we reopen safely?”

That’s how the idea of Connect@Changi came to be.

Connect@Changi became the world’s first pilot business travel exchange facility, designed to provide a holistic ‘test-stay-work-meet’ experience for inbound, international business travelers coming to Singapore. To support the integrated consulting and technological needs of piloting the facility, EPAM Continuum was appointed as a partner of the project by Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings. From discovery and user research through to the front-end and back-end development of the web portal, mobile app and booking system, EPAM Continuum’s digital solution for Connect@Changi aimed to facilitate safe business activities for travelers during the ebs and flows of the pandemic. During the active pilot program, 120 bookings were made digitally for Connect@Changi.

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Transitioning to the New Travel Norm

 

Traveling during the pandemic typically requires travelers to quarantine and test for COVID-19 prior to being in transit. The goal of the Connect@Changi pilot was to provide a seamless experience for business travelers that lessens their time spent in quarantine, simplifies the unfamiliar travel process and grants guests the much-needed assurance and peace-of-mind to meet safely with their local counterparts. We collaborated with partners, based in Singapore, that specialize in hospitality, transportation, healthcare, facility management and infrastructure to coordinate all aspects of the travel experience and deliver the prototyped project in just four months.

Launching the Connect@Changi Prototype

 

Hear how EPAM Continuum supported Singapore's efforts to resume international business meetings by launching the pilot of Connect@Changi.

How We Did It

Innovation & Discovery

Through online forums, EPAM Continuum collected feedback from travelers planning their trip back to Singapore, helping us understand their pain points firsthand. Additionally, we incorporated the use of Lego® blocks to visualize spaces and the multi-step journey that travelers would encounter in the 'new normal'.

We conducted research to evaluate the landscape of existing digital solutions that were implemented in Singapore to battle the spread of the virus, including contact tracing, stay-home notice monitoring, test result notification and social distancing screening. We also monitored the news to stay on top of the latest COVID-19 developments to ensure strategy alignment. 

User Journey Mapping

We created a map of existing user journeys, including the key stages of pre-departure, plane onboarding and disembarkation, to gather challenges and opportunities to implement safety measures within these stages. Examining the current process flow in place, we asked the question, “What do we want to achieve?” when it comes to streamlining the process for travelers. This allowed us to properly plan for the structure of the overall facility, keeping the customer front-of-mind. 

Personas & Use Cases

Our team examined multiple personas, including the guest, the guest services team of the facility (through hospitality partner The Ascott Limited) and the lab conducting COVID-19 tests (Parkway Lab Staff). We analyzed the actions each user would take within Connect@Changi to simplify the steps they’d take to book accommodations, acquire COVID testing, order meals, etc.

We also role-played as guests experiencing a one-night stay at the Connect@Changi facility to understand the different end-user personas and empathize with prospective business travelers, resulting in even more ideas to further enhance the current service and app features.

Digital Platforms

After conducting research, our team used that knowledge to develop navigable digital platforms that guide users through the travel process. Integrating a headless content management system, we launched a user-friendly website and mobile app with a booking and reservation system for meetings and accommodations, lab test scheduling and reminder systems to fulfill required swab tests. Enabling users to complete all travel steps within one elegant interface helped streamline the experience. 

To align internal operating procedures with the user journey, we developed an admin portal for the team working at Connect@Changi. It would serve as a key communication tool, providing information about guests’ travel details and generating reports to share with relevant government authorities.

System Architecture & Cloud Optimization

To ensure all of the platforms and systems were integrated and provide a seamless user experience, we used a microservices architecture deployed in Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS). We optimized the cloud infrastructure on Microsoft Azure, using an API to integrate with the existing cloud provider used by the hospitality partner. For continuous integration and development and system monitoring, the platform leverages Azure DevOps and Azure Monitor. When building the system architecture, we implemented security testing and system support measures to ensure accessibility to timely, hands-on maintenance.

Agile Delivery

To ensure collaboration with the many partners involved in the project, EPAM Continuum used agile best practices to provide effective engagement and communication across multiple stakeholder groups. Through biweekly sprint planning, we delivered the prototype in four months from conception to development to delivery. 

The Imagined Guest Journey

Tech Stack
    

Our Impact

 

For our work in creating this pilot, EPAM Continuum was recognized as the winner in the ‘Business Travel Technology’ category at the 2021 Singapore Business Review International Business Awards. During the four-month pilot, Connect@Changi achieved the following results:  

120

digital bookings

425

app downloads on
iOS and Android

1,595

web visits to
connectatchangi.com

kim

HEAR FROM OUR PARTNERS

Kevin
Lim

Director for Blockchain Portfolio, Temasek

“EPAM’s willingness to be part of this national resilience project that was fraught with great uncertainty and demanding timelines and their ability to respond swiftly to dynamic changes on the ground are very commendable. The partnership has allowed us to be the first in the world to showcase how countries could reopen their borders for business travel exchanges designed for the ‘new normal’. Kudos to the team. We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it without the strong support from EPAM.”

christine

HEAR FROM OUR PARTNERS

Christine
Soh

General Manager, The Ascott Limited

“The experience working with EPAM for the launch of the Connect@Changi pilot has been nothing but exceptional. Without a doubt, you can see EPAM has put in a lot of resources and commitment to ensure they met the expectation of the project and intensive timelines. Their ability to follow up with requests promptly is a testament of how they achieve excellence in their work. This project and partnership have reaffirmed to the world that Singapore is at the top as a business hub, and we can adapt to meet the challenges of the world. We wholeheartedly appreciate EPAM team for their continuous support and their best effort.”

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