No longer passenger experience; It’s now seamless travel | Reflections from PTE
Let’s get things straight. The conversation is shifting. It is no longer a question of passenger experience. Air travel is now defined by ensuring seamless travel.
Passenger Terminal Expo, much like International Airport Review, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and once again impressively exceeded the 5000 visitor mark with more than 6,800 attendees passing through the RAI Amsterdam.
First things first, let’s get things straight. The conversation is shifting. It is no longer a question of passenger experience. Air travel is now defined by ensuring seamless travel, tailored and personalised for each and every passenger.
Having spent three days at Passenger Terminal Expo and Conference, it has become clear that the passenger now desires – no expects – a seamless experience from door to door. Now habituated to instant gratification and efficiency in day to day life thanks to the phenomenal ascent of technology, the air passenger now demands a similar level of personalisation from his experience when travelling by air.
How do we achieve this?
Sitting down with various leaders throughout the three days, it was something the CEO of Hamburg Airport Michael Eggenschwiler, that really stood out.
We need to start seeing the airport through the passenger’s eyes.
It seems obvious does it not?
Yet too often the overarching experience of an airport or airline is not designed with in order to optimise passenger experience. With a proven correlation between revenue generation and passenger satisfaction, it’s time to prioritise the latter in order to achieve the former.
So what is a seamless experience?
Seamless travel is ultimately defined by an absence. Seamless travel is the absence of disruption, the noticeable facility of moving from A to B without issue. Seamless travel is an expectation for the modern passenger. The seamless traveller doesn’t necessary need retail options, restauration or help with security checks. Crucially however, they might desire these options. Seamless travel is therefore personal to each passenger.
This is why tailoring of experience is essential. There is no one-size-fits all approach possible. Seamless travel is definitely the use of technology to ensure security checks are as quick and efficient as possible. But this use of technology to ensure seamless travel is just one part of the overarching experience. Going back to the phrase from Mr Eggenschwiler. “We need to start seeing the airport through the passenger’s eyes,” and this is ultimately based upon the idea that each passenger or group of passengers must be treated as they wish to be treated. Seamless experience is personalisation for the individual.
So how do we achieve this?
Personalisation of experience is fundamentally reliant on the correct capturing and understanding of passenger data.
The great data question
Europe has an issue with data. Europeans are scared of their data being shared. The fear of cyber hacking is largely irrational and fuelled by misreportings in media outlets. The aviation and airport industry now needs to convince passengers in Europe and around the world that the responsible and transparent collection of their data is in their own interests. In order to create this seamless experience when travelling by air, data collection is essential.
There is no one-size-fits all approach possible…
If a particular demographic tends to travel on holiday at a certain time of day at the weekend in large groups, an airport can effectively collect this data and use this information to ensure correct planning and management strategies are implemented to ensure that both these passengers are dealt with at the airport, crucially in the manner in which they wish to be treated.
Equally, if those who purely want efficiency from an airport and only use it at certain times during the week, then necessary measures might be taken to ensure the screening process is as fast as possible during these periods. These are just hypothetical examples. The theory and the main point is that each traveller wants a different experience from their airport or airline. In order to achieve this data collection is of fundamental importance.
We need to start seeing the airport through the passenger’s eyes…
Data collection for a personalised treatment of the passenger as they wish to be treated is the new way of looking at passenger experience. Data collection and understanding is seamless travel.
With the way in which we treat passengers with restricted mobility increasingly coming under scrutiny, this data collection for personalised management strategies is of fundamental importance for finding means of ensure all passengers enjoy travelling by air and have the same quantity of services and assistance where and when necessary.
Creating a relationship with the passenger
The way airlines and airports can move forward and make progress is by creating a renewed relationship with the passenger. This will be facilitated by new technologies and mobile solutions but not exclusively. As many industry leaders mentioned throughout Passenger Terminal Expo, passengers still desire the human touch.
Single token travel and biometrics continue to create a real buzz in Amsterdam and there is no doubting the revolutionary nature of this technology for ensuring this seamless experience when physically in the airport.
The way airlines and airports can move forward and make progress is by creating a renewed relationship with the passenger.
Further to this, the actually journey prior to the airport was discussed at length and how airlines or airports can begin to interact with passengers before they’ve even reached the terminal. Once again putting an emphasis on creating this renewed relationship with the passenger. Technological advancement is everywhere and many exhibitors demonstrated extremely exciting new products and developments.
What International Airport Review learned
That said, new technologies are extremely exciting, but if wrongly implemented within an airport their potential is dampened. The way in which aviation and airport is truly going to ensure a seamless experience for each and every passenger is by implementing new technologies within a pre-existing and coherent philosophy, which I believe and many of the experts in Amsterdam agree, to be rooted in the collection and intelligent use of passenger data to personalise experience fundamentally how the passenger wants to experience his or her airport or airline.
Following the annual Skytrax Awards, congratulations must go once again to Singapore Changi that has now won the annual World Airport of the Year five times in a row. Find International Airport Review’s Top 20 World Airports here…