Traveller at conveyor belt texting

Airport operators should be clear that the single most important marketing and operations channel going forward will be mobile apps that can reach a passenger when they are physically in the airport. And the best organisation to deliver the channel is the airport itself.

It’s worth understanding what a location-aware mobile app offers above regular channels such as email or the airport’s website (even if it is optimised for mobile users).

Low interaction rates aside, email is great for reaching customers prior to any visit and priming with key information such as parking offers. But knowing when to send an email that will be relevant to an individual flyer is difficult, as it is the airline that has this data, not the airport.

The airport’s own website can deliver key sales and promotion messages, but only when it is being used (and evidence suggests the primary use of an airport website is either for parking pricing or flight status).

Both channels have issues around being relevant at the right time, something the location-aware mobile app is able to deliver automatically, by waking itself up when it knows it is at the airport.

This means the airport can be relevant to the customer at the most important time – during the visit itself.

So now the airport operator and its marketing department can enhance the customer experience and directly increase airport revenues through driving sales for retail tenants:

  • Handheld digital signage, such as baggage drop-off information can be delivered when a passenger is dwelling in the entrance areas
  • Time-through-security information can encourage a quicker journey through to airside
  • Timely messages, including retail offers, can be delivered; segregated by journey and passenger type
  • Operational efficiency messaging, such as walking time-to-gate info, which like the security waiting time messaging can expand the amount of time passengers are encouraged to spend with retail partners

Multiple passenger journeys can be developed using very simple data that, in real time, is only available through the mobile device: Time, place, dwelling time in the location. This data, when added to other key information such as flight data, can deliver an enhanced door-to-door journey through the airport:

Let’s look at an example – a family taking a leisure flight. They could, simply by indicating their flight destination that day, receive the check-in desk number, including directions from their current location as soon as they enter the airport. While queueing to drop their baggage, they can receive an automated notification telling them it’s currently a 13-minute journey through security. This may encourage the family to forego comfort breaks landside and instead proceed more quickly through to airside, where there’s more for the family members who don’t need to use the washroom facilities.

Once airside, behavioural insights gathered by general passenger movements can determine the best locations and time to deliver relevant contextual retail messages to the family. This could be a family meal offer delivered at least one hour before take-off and within sight of a food court. Or it could be a book voucher delivered in proximity to a bookstore.

The same relevancy could also be delivered during the arrival journey, with baggage collection information and even reminders to pick up consumables from the airport’s convenience store before setting off for home.

Whatever and whenever, each communication should be carefully designed to add value to the traveller’s journey through the airport.

This enhanced journey could also be offered by the airport via airline partners who can deliver the experience through their own branded apps, using the airport’s proximity marketing network.

Under this scenario, Airspace’s algorithms ensure that passengers with both the airline and airport app only receive communications through one app. The value exchange between airport and airline ensure that the airline is seen to be offering customer discounts and rewards and the airport is seen to be driving incremental sales opportunities for its retail partners. And ultimately the passenger also wins, by receiving an enhanced experience during their visit.