No doubt that these days, I can't draft a story that doesn't have some element of technology underpinning various airport operations processes and communication strategies. That's fine by me, as I am one of those techy nerds that eats this stuff up -- and I like to think that I get it, with regard to how business is inherently reliant on technological development.
At this year's ACI-NA/World annual event, technology seemed to show up more than I have seen in past years. Everything from surface management solutions that incorporate collaborative decision making (CDM), to interactive wayfinding solutions that give airline passengers -- scratch that, airport customers -- the most critical day-of-travel information in real-time.
Yes, believe it or not, airlines are working together to reduce congestion at JFK, explains the SAAB Sensis folks. And yes, passengers ARE looking to the airport to provide a more positive travel experience.
Explains SITA's John Powell, 70 percent of airports plan to offer mobile services in 2013 -- after all, 66 percent of U.S. business passengers now carry smart phones.
Airport customers want a personalized experience ... why can't I show up at my home airport and be greeted by an official who knows who I am and asks if they can take my bag from me? Why can't I be given a coupon once I have used the self-service check-in kiosk to encourage me to spend $ in the retail and concessions area?
Digital communication strategies can be more robust than ever before, and that will only increase as technology becomes cheaper to implement and easier to use. Interactive technologies related to increased self-service initiatives are becoming passenger-centric, opening the doors to opportunities that will enable the airport to enhance the personalized journey for the traveler. And along the way, it will also allow the airport to make a few extra bucks -- a critical component in these days of increasing non-aeronautical revenue and keeping costs down for airline partners -- something that seems to be more important than ever before.
All of this has another end ... customer service and satisfaction. Passengers are airport guests, and it's up to the airport to encourage them to be loyal customers. While once it was accepted fact that the commercial air traveling experience was 'owned' by the carriers ... this is becoming less and less the case as airports strive to both transform the airport experience into one that is not just tolerated, but actually desired -- as well as the most critical factor in branding the airport as a true reflection of the community it is a part of.
Technology aside, another issue played an important part in this year's ACI event: the call for a National Aviation Policy.
The ACI-NA Board of Directors has unanimously approved a resolution which calls upon the U.S. Government to create a national aviation policy that will provide the kind of long-term stability aviation needs to remain the nation’s gateway for economic growth and development.
We have heard it before from ACI-NA president Greg Principato ... aviation infrastructure in the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world, and our lead as innovators in the travel industry is waning. As he put it in Calgary this week, we do not want to be JUST a North American feeder system for a global aviation network -- we want to be leaders in aviation development and global transport.
Thanks for your interest,