Insights

Happy Customer, Happy Airport

Sr. VP, Client Delivery
Valtech US

June 06, 2016

Without a doubt, airports are in the lucky position of having a ‘captive audience.’ But just because passengers are trapped in an airport doesn’t mean they will necessarily shop there – especially not the connected travellers. They need to be placed in a shopping mood first.

How to create the right shopping mood for these connected travellers and make sure they get the most out of their short dwell time in the airport? I have one word for you, happiness. Because happy passengers spend more money. The good old saying “happy wife, happy life” becomes “happy customer, happy airport” in this context.

So, how can airports make their connected travellers happier? What is it that gets them to pull out their wallet instead of keeping it securely fastened? Using digital to connect them with practical information. With their friends. With useful tips. With a not-to-be-missed deal. With personalized travel advice. With a stress free journey. An omni-channel experience.

I can sense another how question, so let’s just jump right into talking about the digital engagement the airport can initiate to make their connected travellers happy.

Before travel

The airport can already initiate digital engagement from the very moment a new passenger is identified, by web traffic or parking booking, with direct marketing inspiring them with products within their range of interests, to place them in a shopping mood long before setting their feet in the terminal. And even have them shop before their journey through pre-order, realeasing even more time when in the airport.

The key in this stage is thus knowing the travellers, the more the better. How? By analysing and collecting actionable data across the digital touchpoints, the airport can get an overview of each of their travellers (through customer profiles) and thereby deliver tailored communication based on their needs and preferences.

The main idea with this process is to get a little closer to the traveller. Close enough to see them as individuals with different needs and preferences, not just members of a segment.

Now do you see how all these digital footprints can be useful for personalizing communication to the individual passenger? How it offers precisely what they need? How it makes them happy?

At the airport

In this stage, the connected travellers have arrived at the airport. They have their boarding pass available on their phone, walking through the terminal. How are they going to spend their average of 85 minutes in the airport?

Psssst… Take a look at their palms - the phone is glued to it and it will be used. Focus should then probably be on engaging with them through their digital limb, to offer them a convenient shopping journey that connects them with relevant personalized offers and content. This can happen in a variety of ways.

These travellers walk around the airport with eyes glued to their four-inch screen and it can be hard to catch their attention. But what if you could poke them on the shoulder, when they pass a store or product, with a personalized message/offer they can’t resist? Maybe it would make them happy to get served with both context and relevancy.

The connected travellers need the offline world as much as the online. In fact, they can’t distinguish between the two. Hence blurring the line between the two worlds offers the best experience. How? By collecting the digital footprints that are left through the various touchpoints and using that data to make to create a personal experience, changing the traditional perception of the cash register and combining personal service with a smoother transaction process.

After travel

Here the passengers have departed and on their way. A traditional linear customer journey would now be over, as the customer is off and can’t be reached. But as we’re talking a circular user journey, the process of reaching the customer is ongoing and potentially eternal.

How so? By harvesting the data from stage one and two, there might be products for pick up on arrival, or passengers are made aware of the possibility to do additional shopping when returning to the airport. If this isn’t the case, here is the opportunity to make them aware of that option.

The key is keeping the travellers engaged throughout their travelling cycle, because that is what essentially makes them happy.

For more inspiration, see how Copenhagen Airports have worked with their customer journey.

This blog post is based on the whitepaper, The Digital Airport in the Age of the Connected Traveller, which takes you through 55 pages of very detailed customer journey mapping and ideas for digital engagement. Download some of it here or contact me directly for the entire digital or printed copy.