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OTHER ARTICLES Last modified on July 19, 2018

Combined effort

Song Hoi-see, founder and CEO of the Plaza Premium Group, provides his thoughts on how collaboration holds the key to creating a seamless passenger experience at the world’s airports.

As an ever-evolving business, the aviation industry is used to change and, in many ways, this ability to adapt and embrace new technologies and shifting consumer behaviours has been the key to its success.

With passenger numbers set to double over the next 20 years, arguably the industry needs to be more flexible than ever to deal with change and ensure a seamless passenger experience.

And the most effective way of doing this is for airports to work even more closely with the airlines and other service providers to add value to the passenger experience.

Time for new period of co-operation

For too long the passenger experience has been viewed from the eyes of individual service providers (i.e. the airport, the airline, retail/F&B operators) and not the bigger picture and, as result, many gateways have a disjointed service offering.

It is therefore important for us within the airport environment to act as one, removing the silo approach that has bedevilled the airport experience.

And, in my opinion, airports and airlines that engage more players in an effort to improve customer service through working with specialised stakeholders, will find it easier to achieve commercial success.

Third party service providers such as lounge operators, for example, can help airlines and airports improve their service offering.

ACI data shows that a better experience at the airport can improve customer loyalty and increase non-aeronautical revenues.

It is also common to find service providers, such as lounge operators with global presence, enhancing experiences between destinations.

A chief executive of a leading airport in Europe has been quoted as saying that the airport process is comparable to a watch in that it is crucial that all the cogs fit and work perfectly. If one comes to a halt or is slower to work than the others, then this has an immediate impact on the overall results.

Collaborating for the sake of the customer

Today, a number of airlines and airports have signed Memorandum of Understandings and are working together for mutual benefits.

The LCCs/hybrid LCCs are forming new tie-ups with lounge operators, while there is huge potential for a growth in partnerships between airports and hospitality services providers such as hotels and retailers/F&B providers.

It is important to note that airports have long ceased being just the place people go to catch a flight and are now widely considered to be a destination in their own right. An airport hotel, for example, provides not only a place for travellers to spend the night but a venue for visitors to rest and relax, dine and do business.

The end-to-end service offering by airports and related organisations cannot be taken for granted anymore.

Indeed, travel industry stakeholders are prioritising customer service and investing millions of dollars on improving the service they offer and adding value to passengers’ journeys.

In addition to the challenges faced by the industry, competition for customers continues to be as fierce as ever. As such, it is vital for current players to envisage their role in the travel industry because change is constant.

Specialised service providers are perfect examples of stakeholders who will add value to both a passenger’s travel experience while increasing the revenue line for airports and airlines.

It is paramount to all in the travel industry to remove self-imposed customer facing boundaries, adding value to the customer should be a gain to all the players within the airport. An all-inclusive approach is the only way to ensure a consistent value adding service delivery.

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