Don’t Forget the Passenger When Improving Efficiency

April 23, 2014 05:08 PM

When does self-service become too much work for the passenger?  At some point, the line is crossed from convenience and speed to poor customer service.


With each travel conference that I attend, the buzzwords that are often on everyone’s lips are “passenger experience”.  Perhaps the most popular and widely accepted passenger experience goal is that of IATA’s Fast Travel initiative.  With an emphasis on self-service throughout the passenger journey, the objective is to give time back to the passenger and speed up the process from check-in to arrival. IATA’s goal is for the average travel time to be 10 minutes from check-in to Duty Free and 30 minutes from arrival to a taxi.


At Passenger Terminal Expo (PTE) in Barcelona last month, several airlines and airports indicated that they are allocating a sizable amount of their budget to improving the passenger experience.   On the surface, that sounds reasonable, given one PTE session cited 90% of passengers think technology improves travel.  But there may be a disconnect between what they say and what they want.


While some airports overlook passenger preference as they drive for decreased processing time, others are keeping the passenger in mind by investing in areas like entertainment.  For example, Heathrow is pushing to have an exceptional passenger experience by providing a virtual concierge, a social lounge, and an entertaining photo wall. Charles de Gaulle has installed music listening pods and a video gaming area.  Airports are on target for entertainment, but they must not take their eyes off of the “passenger experience ball” when they attempt to improve efficiencies.


While passengers want more control and personalization, they also want to keep a human touch. IATA reported that 85% of passengers want to receive personalized flight information, and 68% of passengers are interested in receiving deals and offers. Travelers are highly connected via mobile and tablets, and they expect to have information at their fingertips.


With mobile wayfinding, mobile targeted offers, and mobile flight information notifications, airports and airlines are enhancing the passenger experience while reducing travel time and increasing the bottom line. Balancing passenger experience and airport efficiencies is a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach – it is often difficult to do both, but with focused listening to the passengers, they can find the right balance.


 Click here to learn more about how to improve the passenger experience.