Developing an airport app to deliver passenger peace of mind
Kate Hall, Marketing and Communications Manager at Newcastle International Airport, discusses how to develop a successful airport app and use it to create the perfect passenger experience.
In 2018, almost 5.5 million customers passed through Newcastle International Airport’s doors – the highest number in over a decade. With the intention of providing seamless journeys for these passengers, in July 2018, the airport developed their first official mobile application.
With the desire to be the UK’s best airport, Newcastle International constantly invests in the latest technology to further improve customer service – and the NCL Airport app is one of the most recent initiatives to launch. #
The app, which is the highest rated UK airport app in both the iOS and Android app stores, was designed to support the passenger journey from booking the flight, to boarding the aircraft.
With over 80 direct destinations on offer from Newcastle, travellers can find inspiration on where to visit next by browsing through the ‘Discover the World’ page. Passengers will scroll down the page and learn about the airport’s newest destinations, including Bergen, with Loganair, and Munich – which provides over 130 onwards connections through Lufthansa.
Then, once a destination is determined, passengers can book flights seamlessly through the app using the smart Skyscanner integration system.
Ahead of their trip, the app allows passengers to book lounge access and Security Fast Track, and stores all items together in the wallet-style ‘My Bookings’ section on the app’s dashboard.
Passengers can also use the app to book into any of the airport’s car parks, including the brand-new Premium Meet & Greet facility which is located just 30m from the terminal.
Pre-travel guidance, including security advice, check-in information and baggage policies can also be viewed in advance of the passenger’s trip.
On the day of travel, the NCL Airport app can be used to receive real-time flight updates and alerts, providing passengers with the peace of mind that all the information they need is easily accessible on their phone. As check in opens, the user will receive a push notification telling them which check-in desk they should head to.
Using GPS technology, the app knows when the user is at the airport and changes the dashboard to show Wi-Fi connection instructions. App-users can obtain exclusive offers and discounts for the many shops and catering outlets within the airport.
Using a World Weather Online integration, the app provides the passenger with weather updates for their destination. Developing the app The expertly-devised application was a bespoke build by Newcastle-based agency Shout Digital, and took just six months to progress from the development stage to the launch of the final product.
Tailored to meet the requirements of the North East travelling public, the airport’s marketing and IT teams worked tirelessly to deliver the device in time for the busy summer season of 2018. As the product was brought to market, a multi-media marketing campaign supported the launch.
Social media also played an important role in the marketing of the app – and by using tailored audiences, the airport’s marketing team were able to target adverts to those travelling soon, those already at the airport and those who have recently expressed an interest in travelling.
Using these specialist targeting techniques provided a high level of engagement and download rates.
Assessing the app
Thanks to the expertise of the marketing team, the app is on track to exceed expectations of its download target for 2019.
Every month in 2019, the app has achieved increasing numbers of bookings and revenue. Over 10 per cent of those who have downloaded the application have made a car park, Security Fast Track, or lounge booking, with the app providing a higher conversion rate compared to the airport’s existing website.
Following the successful launch, the Newcastle International Airport app was highly rated on both the Android and iOS App Stores – scoring 4.3 out of five on both platforms.
Glowing reviews soon followed, with passengers branding the app “handy” and “well-designed”, saying it had “great functionality”.
One review read: “Well thought-out app with great functionality. I used to have to go to various websites to do this but now I have everything at my fingertips and in one place. Particularly handy for me to book lounge access and check arrivals/departures and book parking.”
The airport team is currently working on a second phase of the app, which will see more functionality, improved tailored content and even more integrations for 2020.