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NEWS Last modified on October 14, 2014

Blog: Enhancing the customer experience with location-based services

For passengers jetting off on holiday or for business there is nothing more infuriating than getting to the airport and being faced with delayed flights, queues at the security area and the inability for the airline or airport to communicate updated information - as a result there is a constant drive for achieving a seamless and engaged passenger journey and experience, writes Donald Stuart.

This is where technology has been easing the burden for airport operations. In particular mobile technology has been cited in the 2014 SITA Airport IT Trends study as an area that has seen increasing focus as airports, airlines and retailers look to how they can improve the customer experience, the quality of the interaction, whilst increasing efficiency and driving revenue. So how can they capitalise on new mobile technologies to drive these changes further?

Multi-channel communication

When engaging with passengers via mobile devices you need to think about deploying a relevant contact strategy. To boost mobile engagement it is important not only to take a multi-channel approach but also to utilise the appropriate channel depending on the communication being sent.

For example, it may be more fitting for the airline to send ticket confirmations via email, flight updates through the immediate channel of SMS and in-app push notifications to inform passengers that boarding has commenced and the departure gate details.

Both elements can only be achieved successfully when forming part of an end-to-end contact strategy with a single supplier that can execute messages across multi-channel options.


Personalisation and context is key

It is all about personalisation and addressing passengers as individuals. You need to know your customer and understand their likes, dislikes, preferences and why they are there. Some of this can be done using information from their travel booking. For example for a single passenger travelling to Europe in one day with no luggage it may be a safe bet they are on business and may want to know where to find free Wi-Fi. To get additional personal insight there needs to be integration with CRM systems to offer tailored incentives based on previous purchasing habits.

The extent to which you can create and use this big data is endless but the key is to ensure you are working with a provider that can seamlessly integrate into the systems crunching the data so the resulting message is simple, relevant and effective.

The way to bringing this to life is through contextualisation. Context can mean different things to different people with varying options available on which to make a choice e.g. using weather or foreign currency rates as triggers. Or can you provide an offer based on their location, right there, right now in the airport terminal, even down to the restaurant they are stood outside. This is where beacon technology is opening these doors.

Creating location context with Beacons

Beacon technology is a relatively new, hyper-local way of delivering location based services based on contextualisation. It’s not just sharing the right message to the right person, at the right time, but it needs to be in the right place. A beacon is a low energy Bluetooth chipset known as Bluetooth Smart which has its own integrated power source and emits a 2.4GHz signal that communicates with a smartphone to pinpoint your position to within 200 feet.


It requires a smartphone app installed on the user’s mobile device, which means it is particularly powerful in communicating with audiences with whom there is an existing relationship, to build loyalty over the customer lifetime.

The big opportunity for businesses and airlines is to combine the location information with other customer information to generate personalised offers and communications, enhancing the customer experience and maximising ROI.

Everyone’s a winner – improve the customer experience and airport efficiency

Utilising this type of location-based technology brings real benefits. For airport operations it can help track airport throughput and assist in making the airport and processes more efficient.

As it is possible to track passengers as they move through the airport you are able to see, for example, 20 minutes before boarding whether the majority of passengers are through security. As a result, this will improve the boarding process as you can notify passengers of the gate, that boarding has commenced and manage the flow of people efficiently.

What’s on the horizon?

The face of the airport of the future is changing and mobile technology is a significant enabler in this process. By adding context to the personalised services offered through multi-channels it not only increases the users experience but also, potentially, the loyalty they have to the brand they are communicating with. It is possible to act on this now.

Beacons themselves are just the enabling technology, their true power will be unlocked by developers and marketers coming up with truly innovative new ways to improve the customer experience and drive customer engagement.

This blog has been written by Donald Stuart, CEO at Brainstorm Mobile Solutions


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