Today the airport industry faces numerous challenges, from restoring passengers’ confidence to clawing back the billions lost in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How are they overcoming these challenges? With good data, of course!
Here we will look at harnessing the air transport industry’s data assets, focusing on generating new airport revenue streams.
Data science is all about creating business value from data. It’s about identifying common behaviours, expectations and interests and turning them into actionable insights to create valuable solutions for airports and passengers.
With good data and the digital technology to harness it, airports can get to know customers as segments and individuals on a much deeper level to create a truly personalised journey. This offers many benefits in the way of happy and loyal customers, who will spend more money at the airport, book flights with them next time and become valuable brand advocates. But it also offers the airport a return on investment through increased non-aeronautical revenue and a competitive edge.
As Dave Wood, Client Director of Airport Services at redcentric, said at the recent IAR Online Summit, “to personalise, you must know you are targeting,” and for that, you need access to passenger data. And as anyone in the airport industry knows, the customer data landscape is a tricky terrain to tackle. This is because, traditionally, passenger data has remained in the hands of the airline.
“One of the bigger philosophical questions is, who owns the passenger and should it continue to be a battle between the airline and airport to determine who is going to push the most relevant data to the passenger?” asked Stephen Saunders (Director of Innovation and IT at Cincinnati International Airport) at the IAR Summit. He added, “I think from our perspective, it’s really a collaboration between the two.”
And we couldn’t agree more. Airports and airlines are better together, and providing passenger permission is there; all stakeholders could benefit significantly from shared data.
However, it’s worth considering that while the airline is traditionally the gatekeeper of passenger data, thanks to airport ecommerce solutions, like the Rezcomm Marketplace, this no longer has to be the case. With Rezcomm’s Travel modules, airports can become passengers’ first touch point, enabling flight, holiday and hotel bookings through their website. Moreover, by gaining valuable passenger data this way, the airport can generate revenue from new channels, such as reservations for pre-book retail, duty-free and food and beverage.
But, if airports aren’t necessarily people’s first touch point in the passenger journey, there is still a way to collect valuable data at the airport. For example, through:
As Rasheed Al Busaidy, Head of ICT Strategy & Technology Innovation at Oman Airports, said at the IAR Online Summit, “the moment we have the passengers’ data, we can leverage it to improve passenger engagement with an airport and to personalise the promotion of services to those passengers.”
Once an airport has access to passenger data, the options for harnessing technology to generate revenue are almost limitless. And that’s because good data paves the way for personalisation, and in turn, personalisation leads to greater customer satisfaction, higher transactions, and ultimately more revenue for the airport.
With advanced tech solutions, like Rezcomm’s Customer Relationship Management module, airports can manage all data and communications from every touchpoint in a single place, improving efficiency and maximising every opportunity to engage and sell to passengers.
Using data to understand what matters to your passengers
Having the data to understand passengers on a deeper level, i.e. knowing which destinations they like to visit, whether they park or use public transport, whether they spend a lot or a little and even if they like to buy a coffee before they fly, can go a long, long way in tailoring their passenger experience, and unlocking revenue at every possible opportunity.
It can start when passengers book a flight on your airport website. Perhaps they need parking? So offer it as a cross-sell. If they’ve opted for more expensive parking near the terminal or with valet, maybe they’ll also be interested in an airport lounge – another luxury offering? So deliver it as an upsell. It’s all about using what you know about a particular passenger to inspire further purchases and develop new revenue streams.
Unlocking revenue using passenger data at the airport
The opportunities to sell to passengers, harnessing data to generate revenue, continue once they’re at the airport. Send push notifications with relevant offers to get passengers spending money in your retail stores, cafes and restaurants. Combined with geofencing technology, airports can see where the passenger is in the airport and what amenities they’re close to.
For example, a passenger has arrived at their gate early, and the airport knows (from its data) that the passenger hasn’t pre-ordered food or checked in at any of the restaurants, coffee shops or restaurants. This would be an excellent opportunity to send the passenger a push notification, perhaps with an offer attached, to use the airport website or app to order food and have it delivered to the airport gate to improve the passenger experience and increase revenue.
Perhaps a passenger’s flight has been delayed. As well as informing the passenger with an update straight to their mobile, as a goodwill gesture, the airport could also send a voucher for a free coffee and remind customers of any last-minute purchases they might have forgotten. It improves the passenger’s journey, increases their satisfaction, and goes a long way to ensure the passenger continues spending money with the airport.
Taking a passenger-centric approach
“For some people, a good passenger experience is that you’re out of the place really fast. For somebody else, maybe in a transfer situation, it’s about having a lot of fun for two hours,” said Mats Berglind, Digital Innovation Manager at Swedavia Airport, at the IAR Online Summit – reminding us of the importance of knowing your passenger and the scenario they’re in. By harnessing this data, you can tailor the journey around passengers, increasing the airport’s chances of generating more revenue.
Rasheed Al Busaidy echoed this sentiment, adding, “we need to be more passenger-centric. We need to keep them at the heart of what we do in order to serve them better and provide a unique experience. Engaging with passengers and managing their expectations is a very important point that we often overlook.”
And he’s absolutely right. Harnessing innovation to generate revenue will only work if the customer input, communications and data are there. So, airports need to make sure they have the tools for data harnessing, customer relationship management and automated sales and marketing in place.
Dave Wood rightly said at the IAR Online Summit that “quick wins for customer experience don’t have to be massive projects that take three years to deliver. Partners have a role to play to help clients to do things quickly.” And when it comes to the agile, speedy deployment of technology, backed up with next-level support, no one does it better than Rezcomm.
We’re all about harnessing technology to help travel and transportation companies go the extra mile, from improving passenger journeys and increasing customer satisfaction to unlocking that all-important revenue.
With our suite of Customer modules, we can help you put your passengers at the heart of your operations, equipping you with the data to know what they want and need, so you can innovate and invest in the right digital solutions to meet them.