Airports must focus on digital services (and not airline customers) to make money
The best chance for airport owners to make money is on the “non-aeronautical side of the ledger”, according to a leading thinktank in the US.
The Boston Consulting Group argues that landing fees and other aviation-led revenues are often regulated, so airports must now find new ways of increasing income.
The organisation says:
“By smoothing passengers’ travels through the airport and improving their overall experience, airports can transform travel from a burden into a more pleasant and even surprisingly delightful experience.
“This is not simply a touchy-feely, nice-to-have option but increasingly a business necessity.”
Airports, of course, have been told for years that they should up their game when it comes to “improving the passenger experience”, but it is only in the past few years that many facilities have decided to act upon such guidance, driven in part by their ability now to tap into emerging technologies and the connected nature of modern passengers.
BCG says that every airport should be considering some kind of “digital transformation” exercise as a result of the changes in the consumer marketplace and availability of technology, especially that contained in mobile devices.
But the question for many airport operations is where should they start?
Airports, after all, are often mini-cities in their own right, with huge layers of complexity around security, logistics and the fact that thousands flow through the location every day.
Some work BCG did last year looked to identify some of the pain points that passengers experience when using an airport.
The following chart outlines the importance and satisfaction rates of airport users, based on a survey of 1,500 passengers from 56 countries:
Breaking it down further, in terms of establishing what types of tools and technology can be used to help at specific pain points, BCG came up with the following table:
BCG rightly raises the spectre of how does an airport get any of this strategy off the ground.
Management consultancy jargon, but it suggests five golden rules for any operator to consider:
- See the big picture
- Build and follow a business case
- Over-invest in buy-in
- Be open to innovation that is not invented here
- Invest in people, not just technology
NB: Airport image via Shutterstock.
Kevin is senior editor and a co-founder at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and publishes his first book - a biography about Depeche Mode - in early-2017.