Self-Service Top Ten

Self-service is exploding, especially in North America. In an industry which is shifting from a transportation-centric to a traveler-centric model, airports and airlines have much to gain from implementing self-service tools which improve the passenger...


Self-service is exploding, especially in North America. In an industry which is shifting from a transportation-centric to a traveler-centric model, airports and airlines have much to gain from implementing self-service tools which improve the passenger experience at every step of the journey. Kevin Peterson, senior manager, product management, common-use platforms and self-service applications for SITA, presents here a list of the top considerations airports should keep in mind when looking at installing self-service terminal equipment.

Check-in is being revolutionized by self-service — at kiosks, online, or even via mobile phone. It’s good for passengers, cutting down time wasted standing in line, and it helps airlines and airports drive down costs. It’s also a potential source of new revenue, offering airlines to “upsell” upon check-in, either by offering more flexibility on the ticket, or a chance to upgrade the ticket class. Some airlines have an aggressive self-service target of 80 percent or more for kiosk and online check-in, freeing their counter agents for other tasks. For the airports, common-use self-service kiosks are a way to expand their business without requiring more space.

When it comes to kiosks, there are still a great deal of questions in the market regarding placement, style, buy-in, and management. These top ten tips can help determine the best practices for an airport.

1) Location, location ...

We’ve all heard this in the real estate world, and in the case of kiosks, it’s more of the same. They must be on the most natural path from the entrance to the security checkpoint. Within the first 15 seconds of entering an airport, passengers will determine what action and direction they will take (kiosk or live agent).

With that in mind, the kiosks must be easy to find, in front of the ticket counter, and very visible.

A successful self-service deployment requires that considerable time and effort be invested in the physical placement of kiosks. The fact is, where you place kiosks will determine how much people use them. Kiosks need to be in the “decision zone” of the airport entrance, visible as soon as passengers enter the building. Taking a look at entrance points inside and outside the airport, as well as baggage dropoff points, hotel and rental car shuttles, and traditional check-in counters, will help an airport select the best placement of the kiosks.

2) Saturation

A concentration of machines works much better than scattered or individual units. It may be difficult to imagine, but the more kiosks you deploy, the more people will use them. The more passengers use them, the less agents and ticket counters an airport needs.

Alaska Airlines in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is a great example of this. The airline has a significant number of kiosks at the airport, and consequently, they are easy to find. Its kiosks are placed throughout the terminal and in non-traditional locations like the rental car facility, hotels, and parking areas. Passengers can’t help but use them.

3) Work as a team with the airlines

Involving airlines early in the process is a key factor for success. Remember location, location, location? This one has got to be communicate, communicate, communicate. Even as an airport is just thinking about the idea, it’s going to benefit everyone if the airlines are on the same page as soon as possible.

Consider creating a steering committee. One airport invited the station managers to join the airport authority in a committee that met every two weeks to determine the best course of action — together. They continue to meet today, almost as a user group, giving new carriers an opportunity to join the group and keep the ideas fresh. This is a great example of a way to ensure that everyone at the airport buys into the process and feels a sense of ownership.

4) Consider baggage Options

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