Travel centers and truck stops are vital to the U.S. economy, a fact that has never been more true than over the past two-plus years. With professional drivers working double time to keep the nation's shelves stocked, travel centers and truck stops are practically their home away from home.
Along with making sure they offer clean restrooms, a safe place to park and a comfortable driver's lounge, operators in this space need to keep up with the changing technology needs of the customers they serve.
Take Pilot Co., for example. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based retailer's $1 billion New Horizons initiative to overhaul its network includes technology as a key component, including the addition of self-checkout to its remodeled locations. Westlake, Ohio-based TravelCenters of America LLC (TA) also debuted self-checkout as part of its new store design, along with new lighting fixtures and improved signage.
In addition to in-store improvements, the industry is evolving to meet the demand for new fueling technologies, such as electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
TA is on the forefront of mobility changes. Its specialized business unit, eTA, focuses on sustainable energy options for professional drivers and motorists, while leveraging alternative energy to support its own operations. TA also announced earlier this year an innovative test project with the California Energy Commission that will include designing, developing and deploying a distributed energy resource to power energy storage and EV charging solutions.
Pilot is likewise preparing to meet the needs of the EV driver. It's partnering with General Motors to build a national direct-current fast charging network that will be installed and managed by EVgo.
Innovation takes on many forms in the industry and for operators of travel centers and truck stops, their innovations help keep America moving.