27th November 2018

The connected customer experience in airports is really taking off

 

Airports used to serve as a thoroughfare and nothing more. Today they have become valuable retail destinations in and of themselves.  Using the latest digital tools, airports have lots of opportunities to create exciting and relevant partnerships.

 

There may be no place more demanding than an airport when it comes to serving and soothing customers. With a growing number of people taking to the skies – global air passenger traffic grew by 70 percent1 in the last decade – the airlines and airports that work to give travellers a seamless, personalized experience are sure to soar. That’s why industry leaders are investing time and resources in tech that helps them give customers a more human, not to mention efficient, experience.

 

It may seem counter-intuitive to use technology to solve a personalization problem, but airports have proven that, done properly, the right digitalization tools can create custom experiences, improve the passenger journey and build brand loyalty. Customer Relationship Management tools (CRM), beacons and IoT solutions are all allowing companies to collect and customize data and create connected experiences for passengers. Meanwhile, airlines are also finding ways to incorporate the new kid on the block, Blockchain in its passenger offerings. With new efficiencies and services, Blockchain uses sophisticated cryptographic capabilities to create consistent and protected environments.

 

Here are some examples that showcase this:

 

Humanizing traveller experiences through CRM

 

 

 

Imagine you’re running late for a flight. You text the airline en route to let them know you may not make it. Last week, you had tweeted them about the upcoming trip (“has it really been five years since the last high school reunion?”) so they already know it’s important to you. They promptly get back to you with an email, confirming alternate booking options. Now, imagine you did all of that without needing to start each exchange by repeating and explaining your situation?

 

Jet Blue, the airline currently offering this magical service, teamed up with tech developer Gladly in 2017 to create a CRM platform robust enough to capture multiple communications in order to offer customers a continuous, single conversation. Long gone are the minutes spent repeating your last conversation with the helpline before getting the assistance you need. Their aim was to “humanize the customer service experience2 by treating customers like people, not case numbers, and quickly get to the heart of the customer’s needs so they can be resolved efficiently.”

 

This fancy new tool allows Jet Blue to collect data, from booking to boarding, that can be used to engage and delight customers in a host of different ways. This type of robust, qualitative knowledge could serve as a prime resource for sustaining meaningful brand partnerships.

 

The world’s first blockchain-based airline loyalty program is secure for take off

 

 

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is already considered one the world’s finest when it comes to customer satisfaction. Not one to turn on autopilot when improving passenger-facing initiatives, they recently launched the world’s first blockchain-based digital wallet for their KrisFlyer loyalty members.

 

According to SIA’s CEO Goh Choon Phong, this retail brand partnership is “a demonstration of the investment we are making to significantly enhance the digital side of our business for the benefit of our customers.”

 

The lifestyle digital wallet app will allow its frequent flyers to use their miles for point-of-sale transactions at participating retail merchants. For the traveller seeking secure digital interactions with brands, this new addition provides a safe and protected experience. Building that trust with passengers pays off, too. When felt they are given a secure environment, 65% of passengers are willing to share additional personal information (e.g. address of destination, travel purpose, picture) to speed up processing at the airport. That data can then be integrated into other customer campaigns to enhance the end-to-end flight experience.

 

Beacons: the gateway to better personalized partnerships at airports

 

 

In the past, time spent waiting at airports was something to be patiently tolerated at best. That this is no longer a reality is a testament to monumental (and much needed) strides made in improving customer experiences. “Airports have evolved into airport cities3″, Says Julie Hoffman, head of industry strategy for travel and hospitality at Adobe. “If you think about it, they have entertainment, culture, dining, recreation, attractions, hotels, and then luxury retail is a big part of that. Gone are the days of limited duty-free shopping and offerings.”

 

Yet finding specific shops or services can be a totally different (and frustrating) story. Enter the rise of connected technologies, like beacons.

 

At the Côte d’Azur Airport in Nice, France, for example, passengers will find several beacons installed throughout the terminal. This allows the airport to send personalized, branded information and promotions to passengers based on their location in the terminal. It also automatically adds points to Premium club fliers, assists passengers in navigating through the airport and helps them access the ‘Fast Track’ security features.

 

With 83% of passengers carrying smartphones, there is a real opportunity for brands and partnerships to personalize and enhance the customer experience. By adopting proximity marketing tactics – the smartphone technology that allows companies to reach customers in real time with the info they need, when they need it – airports can make major improvements at key touchpoints of the passenger journey, from gate finding to baggage collection, sharing in-airport store promos and more. Even better: beacons can serve as an effective tool in maximizing airport revenues from streams outside of airline operations. The more sales they can boost in food and shopping, the better off their bottom lines will be.

 

Data digitalization is no plane Jane

 

GlobalData reports that spending at airports reached? $38 billion in 20164 and will hit $49 billion by 2021. Where airports used to serve as a thoroughfare and nothing more, they today serve as valuable retail destinations in and of themselves.  With the advent of these new digital data tools, airlines and airports have ample opportunities to enhance customer experiences and find partnerships that support their vision. The sky’s the limit.

 

 

tenthavenue’s traveller experts have developed a fundamental and intimate relationship with both the world’s travellers and travel providers through crafting bespoke, omnichannel solutions. Get in touch with us to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

1. pwc, 2016

2. JetBlue.com, August 8, 2017

3. IATA, Global Passenger Survey (GPS), 2018

4. Adobe Blog: From Beacons to Biometrics: Get Ready for the Connected Airport Experience, February 2018

 

Photo Credits:

Airport connectivity:  Erik Odiin on Unsplash

JetBlue: jetblue.com

Singapore blockchain:  singaporeair.com

Nice Airport: www.bouncepad.com/

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