Seamless Digital Experience at the Airport Now an Essential Not a Luxury Says New Research from Airport Dimensions

April 7, 2022

Research published by Airport Dimensions highlights the ways in which airports need to evolve to meet changing passenger expectations. In a new whitepaper called “Understanding Tomorrow’s Traveler,” the company says a dramatically reshaped passenger demographic means the old rules no longer apply when it comes to keeping airport passengers happy.

Airport Dimensions’ research shows that millennial and Gen Z passengers now account for three-quarters of the market compared with two-thirds before the pandemic. As this demographic increasingly dominates the market, airports need to consider how effectively they understand and are engaging with these new customer segments, who think and behave very differently to their parents.

Satisfaction with the airport experience has nudged up by nearly 2% to 62% over the past two years. To keep this on the right trajectory, Airport Dimensions says airports need to make sure they are getting the basics right when it comes to providing amenities such as seating. It’s also imperative to use the best current technology to provide a single digital interface for all services, providing better and more flexible options for ordering and collection. Finally, they should work with concessions to drive better targeted promotions which demonstrate real value for the traveler.

While engagement with the airport has dropped, the use of mobile apps, membership programs and desire for regular communication all remain steady or have increased slightly, suggesting passengers do still want a relationship with their airports. However, Airport Dimensions concludes that too many airports are not taking advantage of the opportunity to connect and build dialogue. Airports need to use data more effectively in order to send the right message to the right customer at the right time, offering improved and more appropriate incentives. They also need to understand that growing availability of information about off-airport retail means they need to work harder to win business.

Nearly three-quarters of passengers say they feel there is too much retail at the airport, and while travelers are keen to shop, they do not want to do so at the expense of comfort and other facilities. This means that airports need to look at more imaginative ways of generating non-aeronautical revenue, such as making retail more engaging and immersive, alongside more experiential services. The construction of a hybrid space that combines retail with other amenities such as seating could also provide a lucrative alternative to standard shopping.

Mignon Buckingham, CEO of Airport Dimensions, said, “Our 'Understanding Tomorrow’s Traveler Whitepaper' is essential reading when it comes to making decisions within the changed landscape of the airport. Today’s tech-savvy traveler has developed new attitudes and habits over the past two years. As travel continues its return, it is vital for airports to understand exactly what these changes mean, and how they provide an experience that blends the best of physical and digital in the way their passengers want. Whilst most airport commercial teams recognize the need for change, many are uncertain about how to take the first steps on that journey, and how to ensure they get buy-in from the rest of their organization. This Whitepaper will help to put airports on the right path to create a blueprint for a successful future.”

The Airport Dimensions Airport Experience survey was conducted in partnership with leading market research agency Dynata. The research draws from the experiences of 6,024 air travelers covering a wide and representative cross-section of demographics.