How airports can use mobile apps to improve passenger loyalty

Posted: 22 September 2022 | | No comments yet

We share the key benefits of mobile apps for airports and their passengers and discuss how they can be used to improve passenger loyalty.

RezcommThere’s no denying the importance of mobile for airports and their passengers. Not only has it changed how we interact, but it’s also had a massive impact on how we travel. According to SITA, 68 per cent of passengers will be digital travellers by 2025, so now is the time for airports to step up their digital strategies and ensure they deliver the mobile-friendly passenger experience people expect.

Here we will discuss the benefits of creating an airport app and how you can use it to improve passenger loyalty.

Benefits of airport apps

During a discussion about personalisation at the airport at the International Airport Review Online Summit, Rashid AI Busaidy, Head of ICT Strategy & Technology Innovation at Oman Airport said: “I believe the simplest things when it comes to personalisation can really add to the passenger’s experience and ease their journey within the airport.” And he’s right – having simple technology in place, such as a dedicated airport app, can help ensure passengers enjoy a seamless experience and offers several benefits for the airport too.

1. Generate more non-aeronautical revenue through ecommerce sales

Mobile apps allow airports to sell more products and services to passengers at all stages of the customer lifecycle. For instance, airports can use an app to sell flights, hotels and holidays to passengers who may already be familiar with the airport and its offerings. But airports can also use apps to sell other products and services, such as pre-book retail and duty-free, food and beverage, parking, lounge and fast track to passengers, who may have downloaded the app to use at the airport after booking flights elsewhere.

2. Gather valuable customer data

“If you want to learn more about the passengers at an airport, how do you do that, and what ways can you find that out?” asked Dave Wood, Client Director of Airport Services at redcentric, at the International Airport Review Online Summit. Answering his own question, he suggested “the traditional app and a loyalty scheme approach.” And we agree. Mobile apps are a valuable source of data for airports, giving them a greater insight into who a passenger is, what travel products, services and destinations they’re interested in, how much they like to spend, and how they behave at the airport. Airports can turn all this information into valuable insights to build better experiences and generate that all-important passenger loyalty.

3. Provide relevant real-time passenger information

Airports can use mobile apps to disseminate information faster and significantly enhance customer service. For example, with an airport app, passengers can access real-time and accurate information about flights, parking, ground transportation and other airport services. Moreover, an airport might even want to use their apps to alert passengers of the nearest parking space, the shortest security queue or which restaurants have free tables.

Airports can also use apps to support more accessible wayfinding for a better passenger experience and tailored offers to encourage passenger spending at the airport.

4. Get important customer feedback

We all appreciate the importance of gathering customer feedback in improving the airport experience and using it to increase passenger loyalty. And, airport apps provide an easy way to engage passengers and ask them to share their experiences. For instance, if they’ve just passed through security, airports could send a push notification through the app, asking passengers if they were satisfied with the queue time. Or when a passenger returns to the airport after their trip, the airport could ask them to rate their experience and offer 10 per cent off the passenger’s next flight booking to make them feel valued and secure their loyalty.

5. Provide self-service options to enhance the passenger journey

Today’s digital travellers demand more automation and hands-on control over each step of their journey, and one of the easiest ways to meet this growing need is with an airport app. Providing self-service options for check-in, purchasing fast track tickets, virtual queuing and getting quick
answers to FAQs all contribute to a positive passenger experience. And the better the passenger’s experience with your airport, the more likely they will return.

6. Improve passenger loyalty with a rewards programme

You could argue that the benefits of airport apps we’ve already mentioned link back to improving passenger loyalty. But, a great way to solidify it is with a rewards programme. Creating a mobile-friendly loyalty programme makes it easy for passengers to collect, view and spend their reward points, encouraging them to make further purchases with an airport.

Why are customer loyalty programmes important?

Now that we’ve discussed the many benefits of smartphone apps for airports, it’s time to hone in on using them to improve loyalty.

In an increasingly competitive industry, having a unique customer loyalty programme at your airport could be what sets you apart from your competitors and even helps spread awareness of your flight and holiday bookings.

It can also help to generate more revenue. In fact, members of customer loyalty programmes are 75 per cent more likely to make another purchase after being rewarded by a brand. Plus, it strongly supports customer retention efforts, and with new customer acquisition costing five times more than retaining existing customers, prioritising passenger loyalty makes complete economic sense.

Creating effective airport app for improving passenger loyalty

When creating an airport app to improve passenger loyalty, the key is to make it simple yet exciting and focus on personalisation.

Real-time app promotions

Passengers won’t engage with a mobile app loyalty programme if it takes ages to build up and redeem their points. Therefore, we suggest offering real-time promotions, so passengers can quickly and easily exchange their loyalty points for a product or service at the airport.

For example, say a passenger walks by a restaurant in the airport. If they have enough loyalty points, the airport app sends a push notification to the passenger, informing them that they can exchange their points for a free starter or dessert. The passenger receives a code on the airport app, which the restaurant scans, or perhaps they order their meal directly from their table or even the airport lounge or gate. The passenger is satisfied knowing they’ve got something of value, free of charge. Likewise, the airport restaurant benefits from gaining a customer, with the opportunity to generate revenue from the additional food and beverage in their order.

Simple real-time promotions like this keep passengers in the loyalty loop of wanting to spend more money with the airport to reap more rewards.

Personalised rewards using passenger data

If passengers know they can use their loyalty points for purchases they want, they’re more likely to sign up and engage with your programme. We suggest drawing on passenger data in your airport CRM system and using it to match individual passengers’ rewards to their wants, needs and preferences. It will encourage passengers to spend more with your airport and make them feel valued and known, which will go a long way in securing their loyalty.

Consider rewarding non-purchase actions

While it’s beneficial to reward passengers for spending money with your airport, it’s also worth considering what other passenger actions are valuable to you and, therefore, worth rewarding.

For example, sharing your social media content, referring a friend to download your airport app or leaving feedback. These non-purchase actions increase brand awareness and can help win new customers, so ensure you reward your customers for being brand advocates.

Mobile apps: A single source solution

From what we gathered at a recent International Airport Review Webinar on ‘Creating a Personalised Passenger Journey,’ there are mixed feelings about mobile apps for airports, with some believing it’s better to communicate with passengers via partner applications.

“We have no desire to create an airport app,” said Stephen Saunders, Director of Innovation and Information Technology at Cincinnati Airport. He continued: “We know that passengers are going to the airline apps right now and see it as an opportunity to equip those platforms with the right
amount of data to ensure that we have a connected experience for the passenger.”

While we, too, believe in the importance of working closely with airlines to offer a unified and seamless experience, we think airports might be missing a trick. You see, airport apps can also be a single source solution for passengers, enabling them to:

  • Book flights, hotels and holidays
  • Make reservations through the airports parking reservation software
  • Book ground transportation services
  • Access information and manage bookings from a single place
  • Get real-time info on airport queues
  • Benefit from relevant in-terminal offers from retail stores & hospitality venues
  • Easily access customer service operatives
  • Leave feedback for the airport
  • Collect, view and spend loyalty points in real-time

We would go as far as saying that airport apps support passengers through the entire customer lifecycle. With more and more passengers using their smartphones to make travel bookings and support their travel plans, it makes sense for airports to engage with them through this channel.

Tips for creating an airport mobile app

1. Use it to improve customer support

The better your customer support, the happier your passengers will be and more loyal. So make it easy for passengers to access digital customer support using your airport app to get their questions answered quickly. You might even want to adopt a new system like AI chatbots for FAQs to ensure a smoother process.

2. Allow real-time feedback

Your airport can deliver real-time solutions by enabling passengers to leave feedback quickly via your mobile app. For example, suppose a passenger leaves feedback that the airport toilets aren’t clean. In that case, a manager can deploy a cleaner immediately to resolve the problem and thank the customer for reporting the issue with a voucher for a free coffee. The passenger enjoys the reward but also feels valued and listened to. As a result, they will be much more likely to use your airport again and may even share their positive experience with others.

3. Integrate your app with your airport CRM

Dave Wood said at the International Airport Review Online Summit that: “Mobile apps are great for engaging with loyal and regular passengers who are passing through every week to ensure they’re offered the best possible service and feel known.” By integrating your airport mobile app with Rezcomm’s powerful Customers modules, you can draw on all of the previous interactions with a passenger (such as emails, calls and customer service conversations) and use them to create more meaningful customer communications.

Improve passenger loyalty with Rezcomm

The recipe for success in improving passenger loyalty with a mobile app is good customer, a strong strategy, robust technology and proper execution. Rezcomm is here to help you every step of the way. Download our Customers brochure to discover next-level solutions for getting to know your passengers and if you’re interested in creating an airport app, book a meeting with our team to learn how we can help.

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