Revolutionising the Passenger Journey with Data
Author(s): Niels Kroese, Posted on July 26th, 2017
Transforming the Passenger Experience with Next Gen Analytics
Airline passengers hope for a seamless, connected journey. We dream of moving smoothly from arrival at the airport, to baggage check and security, to shopping in Duty Free, to checking emails over WiFi, to perhaps visiting the airline lounge and boarding the plane. But often this is far from a seamless experience. Each point along this journey presents numerous opportunities for the airport to understand passengers better through data and improve their journey. Yet, even in today’s hyper-connected world, the majority of airport hubs are still failing – or are completely unable – to join the dots.
Already the widespread use of beacons and other proximity sensors are helping airports track where passengers are. But that doesn’t reveal who the passenger is, who they’re travelling with, or, in fact, much else at all – in isolation, and without analytics, the value of the data is limited. Similarly, heat map technology might help airports identify and alleviate queue congestion and bottlenecks, but if a particular passenger is frequently affected and decides to use an alternative hub as a result, the airport might never know. There’s only so far we can go with anonymous data.
Put simply, the airports need to understand better who is in their terminal. The irony? That data exists: the airlines know who is travelling, retailers know who is buying, the border authorities know who is leaving. But without all stakeholders onboard to share insights – not to mention the technological, regulatory and economic challenges around it – initiatives are sometimes difficult to get off the ground, however there are still pockets of data to exploit.
For many hubs, it’s best to start small and build from there. Nice Côte d’Azur airport, in southern France, has developed a simple but effective opt-in scheme for passengers to have each departure and retail purchase tracked via their boarding pass. After 10 departures, the passenger is eligible for fast-track services, VIP lounges and more, driving further insight. Membership points accrue and accelerate status for the following year, prompting continued engagement. From this, back-end analytics develop a profile of each passenger that evolves over time, predicting future behaviours and delivering actionable insight. As long as the benefits are right, passengers will share data.
By combining this with other data sources and analytics, airports can go even deeper. WiFi sensors show when the same device is in a terminal, as well as a mass of other actionable analytics through usage, language preference, demographic and interests. Cameras with facial recognition will know who exactly is passing through. Over time, an accurate profile emerges: how often the passenger uses the terminal, how long they spend in specific areas, what they eat and drink, how much they spend and what they spend it on. Pain points are also revealed: how long they are queuing at check-in and security, which can impact retail, food and beverage spend airside. Around just ten extra minutes at security is estimated to reduce retail spend by as much as 30%.
With a robust analytics engine that learns as data is fed in from multiple sources, any airport vision for transformation can finally take-off. Not only will patterns identified reduce and even eliminate existing inefficiencies, they’ll also accurately predict future passenger behaviours, on an individual level, which the airport can support and exploit. With global air passenger numbers expected to double to 14.6 billion by 2029, that opportunity is only increasing. Airports must face the reality: if a data-driven journey to new customer personalisation horizons isn’t part of the strategy now, expect turbulence ahead.
Learn more about how Unisys can provide the technology platform to help aviation hubs to realise their growth ambitions: http://www.unisys.com/industries/commercial/transportation