September 11, 2014 01:01 PM
I heard this week at the ACI-NA 2014 Conference that customer service is “a cornerstone of the air-travel experience”. In fact, it is so important that it is going to be the focus at the next ACI-NA Seminar in 2015. So how can airports improve their customer service? The answer came to me while indulging in a free massage given at an airport spa exhibit. Airports need to provide directions and flight information, and make them available at my fingertips. Being a frequent traveler, I would love to take advantage of these airport spas for a quick escape from the everyday grind of flying from here to there. But with large, confusing airports and flight connections, the thought of squeezing in a mani-pedi would cause me concern for missing my flight. Ideally, an airport would help me to easily identify where the spa is located, how to get there, and the time it will take me to walk so I can plan accordingly. And, I could access that information however I choose - on my mobile phone, a digital display, a kiosk – whichever is most convenient. And, if the wayfinding coordinated with the airport’s flight information display, I would have flight updates that would allow me to make decisions like extending that massage or returning to the gate for boarding. According to Google Research, 78% of travelers looked up maps or directions on their mobile device while traveling. This same research also indicated that 52% of passengers downloaded a travel related app to their mobile device. It is clear that mobile wayfinding will be readily welcomed by passengers. Not only does interactive, omni-channel wayfinding cater to the passenger’s needs, but it also addresses other airport needs. Airports want to improve efficiency of passenger flow through the airport, and increasing passenger loads are increasing demand placed on airport staff. Wayfinding can help alleviate that increased flow and demand, while increasing airport non-aero revenue.