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ECONOMICS Last modified on February 1, 2016

The pursuit of happiness

AeroParker’s CEO, Jon Keefe, explains why he believes that using an e-commerce platform to book car parking online can help drive airport revenues and enhance the passenger experience.

Continually striving to improve the passenger experience is now a key focus of most airports and, as we all know, a consequence of raising customer satisfaction levels is that happy passengers tend to spend more money whilst at the airport, driving non-aeronautical revenues upwards. 

Once through the doors of an airport the passenger is, of course, presented with a whole host of spending opportunities. But what about before they arrive at the airport? 

AeroParker’s research shows that unlike most airlines, airports really only know a small percentage of their customers (around 6%) and often don’t know that they are even in their terminals until they sign up for free Wi-Fi or start to spend money in their shops and F&B outlets.

Airlines also often know who will be at the airport well in advance of the day of travel as passengers frequently buy tickets months before a flight, and this represents a huge sales advantage for them and is a significant lost opportunity for airports.

I say this because I believe that airports have so much value to offer in terms of influencing how passengers feel and behave in their terminals if they knew more about them before they arrived.

Let me give you one example of how this situation could be improved. Our e-commerce platform enables airports to sell parking and any other ancillary products in the same single basket transaction to passengers before they arrive at the airport.

In this way, the airport can create the relationship with the passenger much earlier in the journey planning stage and certainly much earlier than the day of travel. 

A UK passenger research study showed that 14% of passengers were put at a heightened level of anxiety by not knowing how easy it would be find somewhere to park at the airport. 

If the airport can reduce that stress by guaranteeing the passenger a parking space upon arrival because the airport has employed a car park pre-booking system online, then the passenger experience is significantly enhanced and a happier customer is created, all thanks to the airport. 

An added advantage is that this process also means that the airport has gained a valuable relationship for future commercial services and offerings.

Once the airport has created this relationship prior to travel then there are opportunities to offer upgrades to the products that the passenger has bought or cross-sell other ancillary products. 

Our research shows that on average 5% of passengers upgrade or buy further products following an initial online purchase. 

With our online booking system it is also possible to enable the passenger to purchase goods and services at their destination airport. Examples of this can be lounges and fast track security (if available at the destination airport) for the return journey or car hire or a pre-booked taxi for onward travel. Arguably, such features allow the origin airport to further enhance the customer journey. 

Why would a destination airport allow its products to be sold in advance to a passenger arriving from another gateway? The simple answer is because they will be able to sell products to inbound customers who have traditionally been very difficult for airports to connect with. 

Furthermore, once they have made a sale they will also have direct access to their data for future marketing purposes. 

Simultaneously the origin airport is incentivised to undertake these tactics because of the incremental revenue they may receive based on any commercially negotiated reciprocal arrangement between the two airports for the advanced sales of the destination airport’s products.

So, if you thought being able to book car parking online was just about convenience think again, as combined with an ancillary e-commerce platform like AeroParker it really can allow airports to enhance the passenger experience whilst driving new and incremental revenues and gathering vital passenger data. 

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