Over the past few years, airlines and third-parties have been the primary source of day-of-travel information. But today's travelers now expect airports to keep them informed through mobile technology – before, during and after their trip.
This is an analysis by Mike Benjamin, CEO of FlightView.
Airports, which have historically focused on keeping travelers informed only while in the confines of the airport’s four walls, need to start thinking differently.
There have been improvements in terminal and gate technologies. Airports have invested in self-service technologies which improve the customer experience such as kiosks and digital displays.
But, travelers want more.
In fact, of the more than 2,000 travelers FlightView surveyed, 93% said they now want airports to push alerts to them on important day-of-travel information.
While travelers still value and look to flight boards at the airport for arrival and departure times and gate information, what they value most is consistent and proactive information pushed to their mobile devices throughout the day of travel (like while sitting in the cab on the way to the airport or while shopping in the airport terminals).
Catering to Today’s Data-Craving Traveler Too
Travelers have long identified a lack of information as major stressor on the day of travel.
Airports have access to mountains of information that travelers have identified as valuable, yet many travelers often still feel left in the dark.
So, what exactly do travelers want airports to alert them on?
Easy! It's everything and anything that helps provide a smoother day of travel.
Specifically, of the travelers FlightView surveyed:
- 84% expect airports to keep them updated on their flight’s status
- 79% want updates on security wait times
- 48% would value updates on traffic delays
- 38% want to be kept updated on the weather at their destination city
- 24% want updates on parking capacity
- 16% would value being sent information on available airport amenities, like lounges, shopping, travel services and more.
This change in expectations is forcing airports worldwide to re-evaluate their mobile communication capabilities, and put plans in place to more proactively keep travelers informed.
According to a recent SITA report, over the next three years, more than 80% of airports plan a major investment or evaluation project in either their self-service and/or mobile offerings. Today, 50% of airports offer flight status notifications via mobile (also according to SITA) and another 40% are expected to add the capability by 2017.
Information is Power for Airports
For the people running airports, improving day-of-travel information transparency is more than just a play to improve customer service and the travel experience – it can also have a lasting and significant positive impact on airport operations and revenue.
Today, for example, many airports are leveraging mobile tracking and communication as a means of driving increased gate-side revenue by keeping travelers better informed about queue lengths, walking times through the airport, flight status, and more – all with the intention of making travelers more comfortable visiting shops and restaurants.
For example, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport tracks passenger flow to improve customer service and internal operations. Using location-based contextual information, the airport is able to reroute foot traffic and reduce waits at security lines, or provide more staffing at high-volume locations.
This gives travelers more time to relax at the gate, grab a drink and patronize the airport’s retailers.
The bottom line: for airports, it’s all about giving travelers the information and services they need to relax, enjoy and be productive during their day-of-travel travels. And, as mentioned above, the benefits to the airport are substantial.
In fact, according to JD Power’s North American Airport Satisfaction Survey, passengers that report high levels of satisfaction at an airport tend to spend up to 45% more in retail shops, on average.
The key is being creative in what you offer, over what channel, and when.
While flight status is crucial, airports can also offer travelers unique insights into parking capacity, security wait times, traffic, gate-side amenities and more.
This actionable information, when tied in with airports efforts to improve efficiency through mobile tracking, provides a high-touch experience that will keep travelers satisfied and primed to spend more money.
The Future: From front door to gate
Take a look one, five or 10 years down the road and instantaneous travel information for every step of the journey will be at consumers’ fingertips.
Travelers will know exactly how many minutes it will take from leaving their front door to arriving at the gate. Updates on traffic, security and customs wait times, gate-side seating and more will be just some of the many pre-trip alerts that travelers will be able to opt into.
An early example of this is Google Now, which collects your flight information and then pushes an alert to your phone recommending the best time you should leave for the airport – taking into account traffic, distance, flight status and more.
Airports that can make this move faster will have a leg up on competitors – building loyalty and creating mobile interactions that create a better airport experience, drive repeat traffic and increase revenue.
This is an analysis by Mike Benjamin CEO, FlightView.
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NB Plane and phone image by Shutterstock.