OPTIMIZING COMMUNICATIONS

FlightStats connects airports with passengers; enhances customer service


McLaughlin says the company didn’t start out chasing the airport market. “We had assumed airports were all set in this regard,” she relates.

“Airports found us. We have developed products, pricing, and approaches specific to the kinds of communication needs airports want solutions for.”

According to FlightStats, in publishing information through the platform’s Airport Portal web-based tool, millions of passengers are reached via airport FIDS monitors, leading smart mobile applications, leading Internet search engines including Bing and Google, automotive GPS, hotel digital signage, dozens of websites such as USA Today and those of the local media, and FlightStats.com. The FlightStats consumer website receives more than three million unique visitors per month representing more than seven million visits.

“We get 30 to 40 million visitors per month on our free consumer site,” says McLaughlin. “We also power Google — Googling any active flight number will give you a weblink to my data, the FlightStats website. Anywhere you see flight status data, if you scratch the surface just a little bit, you will find FlightStats.”

So, where’s the traveler going to go to get the information they need, asks McLaughlin? That’s where the airport has to make sure its information is distributed, she says.

“The data is correct … often more accurate than what airports are spending money on trying to create themselves by whittling pieces of information systems together,” explains McLaughlin.

In addition, it has the ability to generate revenue because it adds site ‘stickiness’, she says. Revenue can be generated with partner ads or affiliate programs an airport might have. Airports can imbed vendor advertising or their own advertising into the FlightStats Web applications.

The Sales Model

“If an airport wants my flight information on their website,” says McLaughlin, “I have a free widget for that. Any airport in the world can put this information on their website for free.”

For example, the FlightStats Airport Tracker application, which displays all of the inbound and outbound aircraft at a particular airport, is free because it includes FlightStats advertising, and the airport brands the application.

“As a user, once in an application such as Flight Tracker, everything after the first look (more detailed information) will take the user back to the FlightStats website,” says McLaughlin. “We give airports a great set of features, but then at a point we are going to try and monetize it.

“Essentially, if the user drills into the flight data on an airport’s website a third time, they will be directed to the FlightStats webpage.”

Another option is the paid model, relates McLaughlin. Airports can pay $5 for 1,000 queries — for most airports the price will be $50 for 50,000 queries and the user is not redirected away from the airport website.

“Boston and Dallas are already using us to push flight alerts,” says McLaughlin. “You can push branded flight alerts to individual travelers. That service comes with a cost, but if you know you are capturing that customer and keeping their attention, that’s key.”

Newest Tool: Airport Portal

Portland International Airport (PDX) is the launch airport for the Airport Portal service, comments McLaughlin. The application will debut at the 2010 Airport Council International-North America (ACI-NA) annual conference held in Pittsburgh in late September.

Comments McLaughlin, “Portland has been a phenomenal partner and it continues to recognize innovative partnerships. They had been struggling with this same issue … how do you get information out effectively?

The Airport Portal is a free web-based tool that gives minute-to-minute situational flight information data to the airport.

The service provides detailed information about the status of a particular flight, and also gives an entire timeline of everything FlightStats knows, and from what source, about any active flight, explains McLaughlin. A ‘dashboard’ shows summary information on the current status of the airport, including on-time performance statistics for an airport’s top carriers, as well as an overall delay index for the airport and a map of delay indices for other airports around the country.

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