As post-pandemic life slowly begins to return to normal, airlines, airports, and travel companies are seeking out new ways to entice people to explore the world — and feel safe doing it.
With over two million people traveling through U.S. airports every single day (the highest number since March of last year) and fans returning to massive sporting events and concerts, there has been an increased demand for health screening technologies to maintain a safe experience for employees, fans, and travelers. Rapid COVID testing and temperature screening are some of the existing options, but there is a massive opportunity to bring a digital edge to health screening.
“In a post-Covid environment, you’re going to see screening and public safety significantly shift,” CLEAR CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker told CNBC. “But this time it’s beyond airports — it’s sports stadiums, it’s retail, it’s office buildings, it’s restaurants.”
CLEAR, a biosecurity company headquartered just off Park Avenue in Midtown Center, is helping passengers move swiftly and safely through airport security. The company recently launched a vaccine passport called Health Pass that will help restore travel to its pre-pandemic norms, empowering people to feel safe when they board a plane or attend a massive football game.
Making public experiences safer
Initially launched as an airport security system that verifies a user’s identity through biometrics such as fingerprints, CLEAR’s service offerings have expanded to include airport screenings, streamlined entrance to stadiums, healthcare options such as patient check-in and digital records management, and more.
The company has onboarded the biometrics of 5.6 million people for access to 38 airport locations in addition to 26 sports and entertainment venues, reaching a total of 61 million total interactions of its platform.
Here’s how it works: by downloading the CLEAR Pass app for free, US and Canadian users can take a selfie and upload their passport information. When they are ready to travel, they simply upload their trip information and can submit any customs forms directly from their phone. They can then use the airport’s designated Mobile Passport Control line, where they’ll show a QR code and passport to enter the US.
For streamlined mobile vaccine validation, users can upload their vaccination information to the Health Pass section of their CLEAR Pass app. The Health Pass feature also validates COVID-19 lab test results and provides health screening survey questions.
The need for a solution like CLEAR was evident: Due to lockdown restrictions and discomfort with international travel, in 2020, the number of U.S. domestic airline passengers plunged 60% and total bookings dropped 11%. People clearly felt unsafe while traveling and were looking for a way to verify the health of themselves and others.
“People are accustomed to moving through an airport security check, and … many hospitality companies are saying that health screening would need to be the sort of thing that people get used to,” said Dorothy Creamer, senior research analyst for hospitality and travel digital transformation strategies at IDC
Last week, CLEAR filed to go public after a 20% growth in revenue, bringing in $230.8 million in 2020. CLEAR announced a $100 million funding round in February, with big-name backers including investment firms connected to fellow NYC-native and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer, the NFL, and the Partnership Fund for New York City.
CLEAR has also teamed up with some major brands as it expands Health Pass.
United Airlines and Delta Airlines have both brought CLEAR’s screening technology to all of its hubs, Walmart is using CLEAR’s Health Pass to provide digital health records to those who get vaccinated at Walmart locations, and even the NBA will use the CLEAR Health Pass to screen fans and employees as players return to the court this fall.
Demand for health screening technology is sure to boom in the coming months. Thermal scanners alone are anticipated to become a $5.9 billion industry, and in the US, over 70,000 of CLEAR’s Health Passes are being used for venue admission weekly.
And CLEAR’s use cases and service offerings continue to expand.
According to CLEAR, “As of May 31, 2021, our expansive network of partners and use cases provide our members with access to our nationwide network of 38 airports covering 106 checkpoints, 26 sports and entertainment partners, and 67 Health Pass-enabled partners and events covering 110 unique locations, as well as a growing number of offices, restaurants, theatres, casinos and theme parks.”
Since its launch in 2010, CLEAR has grown to about five million customers and raised about $387 million in venture capital.
The human connection
Last month, CLEAR partnered with United Airlines and Marriott Bonvoy to reunite grandparents with their grandchildren. The event brought together over 100 loved ones who had not seen each other since prior to the pandemic.
“To actually pick him up, and grab him, there [were] tears in my eyes,” said one grandfather on seeing his grandson. “It was just absolutely phenomenal.”
In February, 100 vaccinated healthcare workers were able to attend the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida, by verifying their status through Health Pass.
For CLEAR, that’s what it’s all about: connecting you to your loved ones and the activities you love in a fun and easy experience, without having to navigate complicated technology. “Those experiences where you have to prove something about you – if we can help empower the consumer to get through that more quickly – that is our core business,” said Catesby Perrin, CLEAR’s EVP of growth.