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COVID-19: Restoring Customer Confidence in Air Travel

9 Nov 2021
Victoria Wallace

Over the last 18 months, the aviation industry experienced extreme turbulence. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, just 1.8 billion passengers took flights in 2020, compared with around 4.5 billion in 2019.

The fear of catching and spreading COVID-19 prevented frequent flyers and holidaymakers from visiting airports and boarding planes, even after the number of cases dropped. Figures also show that 83% of air passengers expect their travel habits to change in the long term as a result of the pandemic.

Thanks to the development and administering of COVID-19 vaccines, we’re seeing more people taking flights, and in 2021, there’s a huge appetite for international air travel. However, understandably, many people are still wary of being in confined spaces with other passengers.

So how can airports go about restoring customer confidence in air travel?

According to a PwC survey, brand trust, including confidence in safety and cleanliness, is now the top purchase driver from consumer respondents, over price, loyalty programs and airline schedules.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for recovery, it’s clear a customer-centric approach is the way forward.

Technological solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive wake up call for the aviation industry. It’s undoubtedly sped up the tech adoption rate and forced airports to identify ways to be more agile in the future.

Right now, safer air travel for passengers is the priority, and there are two main ways airports can achieve this. Firstly, with tech that empowers customers with valuable safety information and secondly, with tech that increases customers’ independence at the airport and makes them feel safer with a touchless experience.

Here are some of the ways you can restore passenger confidence with airport tech:

Make it easy for customers to book COVID-19 tests

Current travel restrictions require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight. Passengers are required to organise their tests before travel, which is both time-consuming and costly. So as an airport, how can you make it easier?

Airports can make it easier for customers to travel by offering pre-book COVID-19 tests via their websites. Providing COVID-19 test booking as an add-on to flight, hotel, or parking bookings is more convenient and increases passenger confidence in air travel by ensuring they book a test with a brand they trust (your airport.)

Communicate safer air travel for passengers

Consumers are hungry for information. In fact, almost 85% of people said their travel decisions hinge on communications they receive from hotels and airlines about safety (PwC). With this in mind, airports need to communicate a COVID-safe experience to passengers.

Your customers want to know what safety measures exist at the airport. They’ll have questions such as whether they need to wear a mask, what cleaning procedures are in place and what they need to provide in terms of testing or vaccine evidence.

This need for information provides a fantastic opportunity for airports to gather customer data to send them regular email and SMS updates. Use personalised communications to reassure customers and empower them with the knowledge of what to expect at the airport. Additionally, you can use the opportunity to upsell ancillaries for increased confidence and safety, such as queue busting tickets and fast-track services.

Reduce airport queues

Airports can be pretty busy, and let’s be honest; no one enjoys queuing. So why not make it a thing of the past? Create a safer journey through your airport by enabling customers to pre-book an arrival time anywhere a queue would typically exist—for example, airline check-in, airport lounge or security.

Customers select a time of arrival, get sent an e-ticket to their mobile, and when their time is up, they can use the e-ticket to pass through the airport without touching any buttons or surfaces. Plus, they won’t have to queue with lots of other people. It’s a great way to boost both the safety and speed of journeys through your airport, restoring passengers’ confidence in air travel.

Provide remote customer service

Airport tech can create a digital layer of security between your customers and your airport staff. While customers will likely need support during their time at the airport, thanks to technology, it doesn’t have to be face-to-face. Instead, invite customers to scan a QR code at your airport to access a digital customer support portal. Provide answers to FAQs with an automated system or enable customers to connect with your airport’s remote customer service team via live chat or phone.

Ask customers for their feedback

Customers want reassurance that their safety is your airport’s top priority. Want to make sure you’re doing a good job? Ask them directly. Gathering real-time feedback is a great way to restore passenger confidence, as it shows you care.

But you don’t need employees armed with clipboards dotted around your airport. Instead, display QR codes in the terminals, retail stores, car parks and even the toilets to encourage passengers to leave their feedback.

Collecting real-time feedback will ensure you can take corrective action immediately to keep your customers happy and ensure safer travel for customers.

Offer contactless fast track services

Value-added ancillary services, like airport fast track tickets, are becoming increasingly important. Customers are willing to pay for improved safety. So why not give them what they want?

Improve customers’ experience while unlocking revenue, with contactless fast track for airport security. With the use of QR codes, online checkout and e-ticketing via mobile, passengers needn’t touch a kiosk or interact face-to-face with your airport staff.

Once a passenger has booked a fast track ticket via your airport website, they can enter a separate fast track lane at security and pass through with their e-ticket. No touching surfaces and no meeting other passengers.

Be one of the first to revolutionise your airport experience and restore passenger confidence in air travel with Rezcomm’s Contactless Journeys.

Make it easier to book travel connections

For many people, it’s not just the worry of queuing with other passengers in the airport or sitting close to them on the plane that’s stopping them from travelling. It’s how they’ll get to and from the airport. Offering pre-book ticketing for bus and taxi connections is a great way to support customers requiring public transport. Not only does it ensure they get a seat on their journey to and from your airport, but it also means they won’t have to stand in large crowds of people or a lengthy queue outside your terminal.

Build for the future

Adopting airport technology can go a long way in restoring customer confidence in air travel, but it also pays to have a reliable tech partner on your side. Back in 2019, Rezcomm won the tender to become Nuremberg Airport’s tech partner. Little did we know a global pandemic was on the way, and our role would require us to perform system developments to ensure the airport maintained some of its income while most flights were grounded.

With flexible and scalable solutions, Rezcomm provided high-level customer service to Nuremberg Airport throughout the pandemic. The airport is now in a good position should anything happen again in the future.

Restore passenger confidence in air travel and future-proof your airport

The tech solutions we’ve discussed will undoubtedly go a long way in restoring customer confidence in air travel. But that’s not all.

If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s to expect the unexpected. We don’t know if, or when, something like COVID-19 will happen again, so it’s always best to be one step ahead. Embracing the correct technology now will limit the impact of any future crisis and ensure a smoother flight path forward.

Pave the way for post-pandemic recovery with Rezcomm. Get in touch to discuss our COVID recovery tech for airports and request a copy of our Travel brochure.