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Blog: Are airports missing a trick by failing to embrace intelligent data?

Budgets within the aviation industry are seemingly getting smaller and 70% of the world’s airports fail to make profit, writes Kristian Budolfsen. But given than flying has never been so popular, surely something isn’t adding up?

Within 20 years the number of air passengers is set to reach more than seven billion globally per annum. That means there are huge opportunities for airports to profit today and tomorrow.

But in a world where both passengers and clients are tightening their budgets, airports cannot be complacent and must use intelligent data to compete or risk being left behind.

Many airports fail to optimise their profits simply because they use weak or incorrect data to ascertain the value of their assets and as a consequence underestimate how much their retail, landing and advertising space is actually worth. 

This leaves the corresponding development team unable to create and present strong enough business cases to clients and as a consequence see low volume and low value bids to tender.

Take, for example, route development. 

Many airports will look at MIDT data when they want to open a new route. From this they can ascertain the popularity of routes, how many people are travelling to and from the airport, their age and gender, and their initial and final destination.

But intelligent data will tell you where these passengers travelled from to get to the departure airport, and where they are travelling after they land.

Perhaps most of your passengers on a flight to London are actually travelling to Manchester?

It will tell you the purpose of their journey, their emotional and functional requirements to be satisfied with your service and anything else you want to find out.

With all this extra information your route development team will be able to pitch clients with a comprehensive research report which covers everything from the best plane to fly this route to the most profitable seating plan to in-flight meal suggestions.

It’s a similar story when it comes to raising advertising revenue. The predicted huge increase of passenger flow through airports should leave advertising agencies or teams leaping for joy, but again airports are not presenting compelling enough business cases for bids.

Intelligent data can help you understand not only who your passengers are and their budget, but how they’re feeling and what they are likely to be interested in, allowing a brand to narrowly target their campaigns.

The more information you can provide to advertisers about the footfall of your airport, the more they can target their adverts and the greater the non-aeronautical revenue you can generate.

Commercial development is also a key area where airports can  fail profit.

When it comes to building up the profiles of their customers, many airports think about what is important to their passengers, rather than what is important to their consumers.

Airports need to address this by using intelligent data to create consumer profiles, based on the passenger profiles of the people that pass through their airport. 

This multi-striated approach will allow your retail development team to create far more convincing business case, and drive much stronger interest and bidding.

Essentially airports need to embrace intelligent data today, to be able to compete tomorrow.


• Kristian Budolfsen is part of the market research and consultancy team at Epinion. The team has helped airports around the world increase their profitability and efficiency including Heathrow, Copenhagen and Vienna.  

The New Action Standard in aviation offers more of their insights into using intelligent data in the aviation industry.

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