New research conducted earlier this year by Collinson has again highlighted that fact that passengers’ perceptions of the ‘airport experience’ continues to change.
Having evolved from somewhere that was regarded as just the place we had to pay to go catch a flight, the airport is now increasingly a location where people enjoy spending their time.
“In this latest study, 50% of the passengers we spoke to stated that they see the airport as an enjoyable part of the journey,” says Jon White, marketing director for travel experiences at global loyalty and benefits company, Collinson.
“Travellers really do treat the airport as the start of their trip, and anything airports can do to make their time there a more enriching and rewarding experience, will clearly be well received.”
The start of the journey
Contextually relevant services and communications – meaning the right channel, the right message at the right time – is one way to ensure passengers have a great experience from the moment they book their journey, through to their arrival at a terminal and as they pass through the airport.
The information passengers seek in advance of travel is largely concerned with practicalities. Passengers want information from the moment they book their trip.
As the start of their journey approaches, the focus shifts towards the practicalities of controlling time, cost, and what facilities the passenger may want to use.
Passengers want to know, for example, how to get to and from the airport, how long it will take to get there, and the various options available which will meet their demands for comfort and quality.
En route to the airport, emphasis shifts, and the passenger then wants to know how long it will take to get through security, if there are delays, or the best route to their lounge, dining or retail destination.
Once at the airport, the priority becomes how the passenger will spend their time and whether they want to relax, shop, connect with friends or the office, or pamper themselves at a spa.
Making the most of dwell time
But a visit to the airport is about more than practicalities. Many airport operators now understand that today’s choice-rich, time-poor passengers are looking for an experience.
Basic comfort and efficient processes are expected as standard, but beyond this, passengers are looking for more – which could be anything from large-scale initiatives such as Dubai Parks and Resorts’ branded family zones at Dubai Airport or Singapore Changi’s interactive Social Tree installation.
Passengers also want their experience to be as stress-free as possible. Helping them to find their way around the airport is one way of reducing this stress.
“Airports, particularly the major global hubs, have long invested in signage and wayfinding solutions, being critical to the passenger experience,” says White.
“What we are now seeing emerge are technologies such as push notifications, rich mobile mapping, beacons and augmented reality; technologies that enabling location-based marketing. These aren’t necessarily new, but they are now available to passengers at scale through mobile devices.
“They unlock a number of interesting possibilities, such as much richer location-based recommendations of places to eat, nearby retail offers, or other experiences such as lounges to enjoy.”
And he has no doubt that in the future, new technology will make the airport experience even more exciting.
“There are some fascinating developments occurring with technologies such as biometrics, digital wallets, augmented reality and various personalisation technologies,” says White.
“These will continue to proliferate and unlock opportunities to more seamlessly guide passengers through the airport, driving engagement and satisfaction, and giving them far more enriching and meaningful experiences. This will help airports make their passengers truly satisfied, and it’s a happy, content passenger that will spend money.”
Nearly 3,000 passengers were interviewed for Collinson’s study which took place in seven countries and was conducted in five languages – English, Arabic, French, German and traditional Chinese – earlier this year.