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How airport innovation teams secure stakeholder buy-in and funding for digital projects

6 Apr 2022
Victoria Wallace

There’s no denying that the last two years have been extremely difficult for the airport industry, particularly innovation teams. But as we get to grips with the world’s new reality during this recovery period, it’s promising to hear that innovation is back on the cards for most airports.

According to the results from a recent poll by the International Airport Review, 100% of people think innovation is more important during this recovery period than pre-pandemic. However, 100% of people also said the pandemic had impacted their budget and resources for innovation, suggesting that it is perhaps more challenging than ever to secure stakeholder buy-ins and funding for airport digital technologies.

Here we’ll look at what your airport innovation team can do to get stakeholder buy-ins and secure funding for digital airport projects.

Communicate with and involve airport stakeholders early on

Involving airport stakeholders in your digital project early on is critical to its success. Doing so will make stakeholders feel foremost in your planning and allow you to address their needs quickly. It’s also essential to set main goals and objectives and give stakeholders a crystal-clear understanding of the intention of your digital project. Use industry research and data to communicate background info and provide context.

The more you involve stakeholders, the easier it is to persuade them toward your common goal and secure funding for digital airport projects.

Suresh Khadakbhavi, Assistant Vice President of the Innovation Lab at Bangalore International Airport, shares this notion. He recently spoke at the International Airport Summit 2022 about adopting a design-thinking culture. He explained his airport innovation strategy as a collaborative process whereby “multiple stakeholders come into a room, the problem is discussed threadbare, and we try to get rid of the orthodoxies while ensuring we come up with a solution which is acceptable to everyone.”

Karin Gylin, Head of Strategic Development and Innovation at Swedavia AB, also believes in building an innovation culture and engaging the entire company. She said, “We never do anything alone. We always do something based on the needs of the business, based on the engagement and the involvement of people knowing their specific processes in the airport and specific areas. Then, we really try to build on that innovation culture, where we support them and have resources and budget to perform proof of concepts or tests to boost the innovation performance.”

Demonstrate the importance of a digital project

As Karin rightly spoke of at the International Airport Summit, airport innovation teams must carry out the proof of concept to demonstrate to stakeholders that digital technologies will function as envisioned and are feasible.

After all, whether stakeholders are investing their time and skills, finances, they need solid proof that a digital project has the means to achieve the 3 E’s of airport innovation – improve efficiency, increase earnings and improve the passenger experience.

Involving stakeholders in building prototypes and communicating with technology providers to work on a solution collaboratively can go a long way in gaining their buy-in. For example, at Bangalore International Airport, Suresh explains they improve stakeholder buy-ins by “having multiple workshops and conducting experience sessions on new technology, helping people innovate by acting as the catalyst.”

Here at Rezcomm, we support airport innovation teams by building a business case for our airport marketplace, helping them communicate all of the data, facts and projections required. We also offer our airport partners the opportunity to demo our marketplace to see how it can improve their airport operations and passenger experience.

Prove the sustainability of digital technologies

As great as innovating is, airports should never innovate for the sake of it, especially under the current financial strain. There has to be a need for innovation – a business problem that needs solving, and if stakeholders are going to buy in or provide funding, it has to work in the long-term.

Therefore, proving the sustainability and scalability of your airport innovation team’s digital project is crucial. Keep in mind your airport’s flight path forward, where it is heading, and any future requirements. There is little point in building something that needs to be redone in two years.

Show stakeholders how digital technologies support your overall business goals, both now and as your airport grows.

Highlight mutual benefits for stakeholders

When it comes to securing stakeholder buy-ins, you need to recognise and communicate their contribution and value to your airport’s digital project. How can they contribute? What benefits can they bring to the project? And, how will its success reward them in return? Be sure to communicate their key roles, related deliverables and how their buy-in will result in a shared win.

At the same time, it’s paramount that innovations have a positive economic impact. For example, ecommerce provides new digital revenue opportunities for airports, resulting in higher earnings. Or investing in our queueless journeys module will help speed up passengers’ journey through the airport, improve efficiency, and ultimately lead to lower airport costs.

When sharing your digital project with airport stakeholders, there is a real need to maintain a commercial lens. Communicating the potential for economic growth will largely influence investment decisions and make it easier to get your initiative approved.

Rezcomm is happy to assist you with this by providing accurate ROI calculations for your chosen marketplace modules.

The future is bright for airport innovation

Airports have endured turbulent times and financial constraints due to the pandemic, but we’d argue there are some positives to be found too. If nothing else, it highlighted that we all have a role to play in the airport industry’s recovery, and as a result, stakeholders are likely more willing to try new things and be less resistant to change. This eye-opening experience has cultivated a fresh open-mind approach, and is just what is needed to drive innovation at airports and secure funding for digital airport projects post-pandemic.

Partner with Rezcomm

Get your digital project ready for take-off with Rezcomm. From building a business case to demonstrating our marketplace and projecting ROI and economic growth, we are here to support you in securing stakeholder buy-ins and funding. Download our ecommerce brochure and book a meeting with our specialists to find the right solution tailored just for you.