BLOG: WHY PASSENGER JOURNEYS BEGIN LONG BEFORE TAKE-OFF
According to the UK’s Airport Operators Association (AOA), a 5% improvement in average journey times to and from UK airports could deliver a 2.7% increase in passenger numbers.
With delays increasing the risk of both reputational and commercial damage, carefully considering passengers’ route to and through the airport has become essential to ensuring that their experience is as seamless as possible.
Technology offers a huge opportunity to improve the passenger experience, and an airport’s website is often one of the largest, and sometimes the most overlooked, customer touchpoints.
The ability to collect extensive passenger data, in areas such as how people intend on travelling to the airport, offers airlines the opportunity to customise the experiences they offer.
Whether it be offering a discount on executive lounge access for passengers known to be arriving early or updating travellers who are arriving by car on parking space availability, such small gestures can make the difference between providing an average or excellent level of service.
Likewise, having an awareness of factors such as wider transport issues, local infrastructure works, seasonal changes and national holidays enables airports to mitigate against any potential impacts on travellers’ journeys by communicating with them ahead of time.
Not only does this ensure that expectations are managed, it also allows airports to share the available information with waiting passengers, giving them a level of control over the situation and helping to reduce frustrations.
Airports are increasingly being considered as destinations in themselves and passenger experience must reflect this new customer-centric approach.
Digital wayfinding offers a new way of guiding passengers through the airport, ensuring that they can enjoy and make the most out of their free time before flying. This approach presents clear commercial advantages for airports and airlines alike.
However, the proliferation of technology should not come at the expense of communication between airport staff and passengers.
It goes without saying that an airport’s workforce makes a huge contribution to its customer experience, yet a lack of internal communication remains a common gripe of airport staff and passengers alike.
With this in mind, a number of airports around the UK are implementing internal systems which communicate live airport news to all employees and contractors, allowing themto keep passengers informed with timely and in-depth information.
Ultimately, the delivery of exceptional passenger service comes down to successful collaboration with stakeholders and partners, transparent communication and the proper use of technology.
It is important to accept that this is notalways an easy balance to strike – just because a solution has been successful at one airport does not guarantee the same result elsewhere.
However, by ensuring that customer experience is kept at the heart of everything they do, airports can optimise their passenger journey at every touchpoint.
About the authors
Matthew Garrett is programme manager and Zoe Eccleson is senior project manager at business change consultancy, Entec Si.