ICLP Report Looks at What Determines Airport Choice

Aug. 22, 2016

New research from global loyalty agency ICLP has revealed the factors that determine how passengers choose which airports to fly to and from, pointing the way to a better understanding of how to foster airport loyalty. It also reveals the keys to winning the hearts and minds of the all-important Millennial traveller.

Many of the elements airports are unable to influence, such as cost of fares or convenient transport links were among the must-haves in the decision making process. However, many of the factors that could sway choice are within their control. These include a number of elements that improve the convenience of travel, such as efficient security (77 percent), or easily accessible parking (48 percent). Others are swayed by the concepts that make the airport experience more pleasant, such as the food and beverage offering (44 percent), shop or restaurant offers and discounts from the airport (37 percent), a good choice of retailers (34 percent) and access to a premium airport lounge (34 percent).

When it comes to attracting the much-courted Millennial passenger, the rules are changing and a new approach is required. For example a larger number of younger passengers enjoy the airport experience compared with their baby boomer ‘parents’ (58 percent of Millennials vs. 42 percent of baby boomers). This could indicate that they may be inclined to see their arrival at the airport as heralding the start of their holiday experience.

Millennials also have a different view when it comes to looking at which airport they will use and the influences that sway them vary considerably. When choosing an airport, Generation X and Millennials are much more influenced than baby boomers by food and drink outlets (33 percent of baby boomers vs. 46 percent of Generation X and 47 percent of Millennials), and airport loyalty programmes (31 percent of baby boomers vs. 44 percent Generation X and 41 percent Millennials). Other important factors that influence choice of airports are access to lounges (23 percent of baby boomers vs. 39 percent of Generation X and 37 percent of Millennials) and restaurant and shopping discounts (22 percent of baby boomers vs. 41 percent of Generation X and 43 percent of Millennials). Choice of retailers for shopping is also a factor (20 percent of baby boomers vs. 38 percent of Generation X and 39 percent of Millennials). This would suggest that for Millennials, passing through an airport is an experience to make the most of rather than a necessary but inconvenient part of a journey. 

Commenting on the findings, Mignon Buckingham, managing director of ICLP said, “This survey highlights the need for airports to identify those passengers who have a choice in the airport they travel from, and understand the factors that are particularly important to that group. This is key to communicating with passengers more effectively, motivating customers to return to an airport and ensuring that an airport is in the running at times when the customer has a choice.”

Buckingham continued, “Our study revealed that a significant 40% of passengers picked their airport based on the airport loyalty programme. This shows that there could be an untapped opportunity for airports to drive sales considering only a handful of airports globally currently have a loyalty strategy. ICLP has been working closely with a number of airports to help them better understand their data, use that data to provide genuine and informative insight, and so capitalise on the crucial traveller trends.”

The survey was conducted by independent research agency SSI. A sample of just over 2,900 travellers were questioned.