In an increasingly competitive market, airports must focus on improving the passenger experience. Why? Because, with similar flight prices and destinations available across multiple airports, not to mention competing offers from OTAs and airlines, it’s often down to personalised passenger experiences to gain that all-important competitive edge. But in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic and consequential cost cutting, how do airports continue to create memorable passenger experiences on a limited budget?
Here we will look at the importance of improving the passenger experience and how it’s achievable in the current times.
Whereas in the past, consumers would book their flights, hotels and holidays with a high street travel agent, advancements in technology have meant they can now book through an online travel agency, airline or even directly with an airport. As a result, purchasing power is placed directly in the hands of consumers. With more choice than ever, there’s a great need for the air travel market’s players to raise their game and give passengers a reason to book with them over a competitor.
Studies have shown that customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator in recent years. Plus with the knowledge that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience, making it a key focus for your airport is a no-brainer.
“Passenger experience is all about emotion and the perception a customer has each time they have any kind of interaction with an airport, whether that’s in person (face to face) at the airport or through a website or mobile application,” said Dimitri Coll (Vice President of Airport Customer Experience Airports at the ACI) at the International Airport Review Summit. He added, “usually from the customer’s point of view, expectations are based on past experiences with an airport but also other companies like Amazon, Google, a bank or even an insurance company, because these are companies customers are using every day and they want a similar experience.”
To successfully create a positive passenger experience, airports need to get to know individuals and their preferences. With this information, airports can deliver personalised passenger experiences across the entire customer journey to attain loyalty while unlocking additional revenue.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your airport is – improving the experience for your passengers is critical to increasing retention, satisfaction, revenue and reducing customer acquisition costs.
Creating a positive passenger experience and responding to changing customer expectations requires an ability to leverage data and use it to make more informed decisions. Pulling data from a wide range of sources such as ecommerce, marketing and in-airport engagement platforms like customer feedback helps airports to build a clearer picture of:
“If you can understand what it is the customer really wants, it’s easier to deliver good customer service and a good customer experience,” said Dimitri Coll at the IAR Online Summit.
And we’d add that it’s not even enough to understand the needs of passengers. Airports need to anticipate passengers’ needs and provide a customer experience that exceeds them if they want to remain competitive. To support this, we offer CRM solutions for airports that enable our partners to unify customer data and insights from all sales channels and touchpoints and use them to create and deliver fully joined-up, personalised passenger experiences.
With good passenger data and intuitive travel marketing tools, airports can tailor the passenger experience from end-to-end, ensuring a seamless communication flow that keeps passengers engaged, spending money and building trust in the airport brand.
“Coming out of the pandemic, there’s a need to de-stress people more than ever,” said Johan Berhin (Designer & Founder of Green Furniture Concept) at the IAR Online Summit. And we believe the best way to achieve this is by supporting passengers with personalised communications, product recommendations and offers throughout the customer lifecycle. For instance:
Active Evaluation Stage: At the beginning of the customer lifecycle, when passengers decide to book flights, social media marketing can help airports deliver helpful information and enticing offers to prospective customers.
Countdown to Flight Stage: When passengers are counting down to their trip, airports can use the Rezcomm Email Sending Service to deliver data-driven offers and product recommendations to improve the passenger experience.
At the Airport: With Rezcomm’s SMS sending service, airports can send push notifications to passengers to alert them to the shortest queues at the airport or any money-saving retail deals customers are likely to be interested in.
Return Home: Airports can continue to engage with passengers by creating a ‘Welcome Home’ email and using it to collect valuable feedback.
Loyalty loop: Creating a loyalty and rewards programme contributes to a positive passenger experience by making existing customers feel valued and important. Personalised rewards encourage passengers to book their next flight with the airport, along with parking, lounge and other products.
Rezcomm’s powerful pay-as-you-go Marketing modules enable airports to deliver these hyper-personalised marketing communications without significant investment.
While personalised marketing, including data-driven content generation, detailed product targeting and recommendations, go a long way in creating a positive passenger experience, contactless technology at the airport also has a significant role to play.
“Today’s travellers have less and less time. We just don’t have time for a bad customer experience,” said Johan Berhin at the IAR Online Summit. And he’s right. Who wants to go to the airport to stand in lengthy queues when we could be shopping, dining or relaxing in the lounge?
Implementing efficient technologies can go a long way in improving the passenger experience at the airport. Forinstance, offering passengers the opportunity to buy Fast Track tickets by scanning a QR code with their smartphones and using their eticket to skip the queues at security and pass through the airport quicker. Or offering Queueless Journeys, so passengers can queue virtually, increase their dwell time and enjoy more of the exciting parts of the airport like the retail stores and dity-free.
Additionally, offering ecommerce services like pre-book retail and food and beverage can provide a better passenger experience. Instead of queueing up, passengers can simply pre-order the products or food and drink they want before they even reach the airport and collect it or have it delivered to their gate or the airport lounge for added convenience.
“By offering good customer service, you increase retail revenues, and by having a good retail area, you’re increasing customer satisfaction as well,” explained Dimitri Coll at the IAR Online Summit, reminding us of the direct link between providing good customer service and increasing airport’s non-aeronautical revenues. Johan Berhin added, “a one per cent increase in customer satisfaction leads to a one and a half per cent more retail in the airport, and that’s huge numbers that will pay for itself.”
And it’s not just an increase in revenue airports can benefit from by investing in efficient technologies to improve the passenger experience, but also reduced costs. After all, memorable passenger experiences lead to loyal customers who, with nurturing, become brand advocates who tell others about the airport, resulting in reduced customer acquisition and retention costs.
While we’ve discussed the need for airports to conduct personalised marketing and use efficient technologies at the airport to improve the passenger experience, it doesn’t have to come at a high cost. The Rezcomm Marketplace has a host of budget friendly technologies with zero set-up fees to support airports in reducing their operating costs and risk.
What’s more, we’re all for optimising the digital solutions and sales channels your airport already has. For example:
Read our article, ‘Untapped Revenue Streams Your Airport Already Has,’ to learn more.
If you are pursuing solutions for efficiency and automation to help you deliver a better passenger experience, look no further than Rezcomm. We offer our partners the flexibility to pick and choose the modules they need right now, with the option to scale up in the future to help meet the budget constraints many airports currently face.
If personalised passenger experiences are your focus, download our Marketing Brochure to explore our plug-and-play solutions. Then, book a Meeting with the Rezcomm team to discover how we can help you raise your game with memorable passenger experiences.