Airport Services’ Secret Weapon

Airports can leverage the power of their wireless networks through powerful analytics to connect with passengers, improve operations and drive revenue


The majority of today’s airports see tens of thousands of passengers pass through their facilities daily without making any airport-to-customer connections.

For resource-constrained airports bridging that gap may seem daunting, but the majority of those airports have already invested in one of the “killer apps” necessary to better establish passenger relationships and improve satisfaction: their wireless network.

Most consumers like to connect their devices to WiFi giving airports a largely untapped opportunity to harness wireless network intelligence to own the traveler experience, foster customer loyalty, improve operational efficiencies, and grow non-airline revenue. Future-focused airports will stop looking at their WiFi networks as a passenger amenity and start embracing the power of its analytics to deliver game-changing customer experiences.

Build Customer Ties

Airlines have been leaders in using mobile to get to know their customers and their spending habits —through loyalty program apps and close-knit integration with tools like Apple’s Passbook. Meanwhile airports, which are the literal hub of the travel experience, lack any meaningful data about the passengers who fill their terminals.

Airport wireless networks present a ready tool for passenger relationship development that can easily leverage existing investments. An airport marketing team can field surveys via WiFi to gather anonymized customer service preferences and feedback; or they can pop a Web interstitial at network log in that encourages passengers to opt in to an airport’s rewards program or follow the airport on social media.

Once a traveler has opted to engage with an airport, the sky’s the limit on opportunities to foster direct, ongoing relationships with individual customers. Airports can push instant coupons for concessions, updates on gate/flight changes, or news alerts on airport construction or new amenities.

Connected travelers are welcoming these kinds of real-time push notifications from the airports they frequent. According to FlightView’s recent Travelers Survey, more than 90 percent of travelers say they would welcome flight status information and nearly 40 percent wanted coupons for concessions from the airport.

Go With the Data Flow

Key areas where service optimization opportunities are often missed are the airport security and concession lines. Not only can traveler frustration mount while enduring long lines, but valuable shopping and productivity minutes are also lost, leading to decreased overall spending. Participants in a recent IATA passenger survey reported extended queuing time as the most frustrating part of security screening so much so that nearly three-quarters of the travelers surveyed said they were willing to share personal information with governments to speed up this process.

When paired with Bluetooth sensors to enable even more specific time and spatial accuracy, existing wireless infrastructure can offer a solution for queuing nightmares, and can help budget-conscious airports maximize staffing to ensure greatest efficiency at the lowest cost. When WiFi is turned on, WiFi-enabled devices passively beacon area access points. Devices that have WiFi turned off or aren’t WiFi-enabled can usually be sensed via Bluetooth signaling. When this collective data is analyzed in aggregate, airports can gain a real-time understanding about congested areas and wait times, and can take immediate action to reallocate staff to reduce queuing times and traveler frustration.

These queuing management solutions can also map right back to that direct customer relationship. Airports can elect to push wait time notifications to customers so they can better plan their travel day, and more quickly get to the fun and lucrative part of the land-side journey: concessions.

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