New Research Reveals How Airports Can Increase Customer Spending

Sept. 29, 2016

New insight from ICLP has highlighted how a limited understanding of the passengers who pass through their terminals means that airports are failing to make the most of the commercial opportunities their passengers present.

While it’s widely accepted that elements such as fears of longer security or passengers’ familiarity with the airport (or lack of it) will be key determinants of how long passengers spend at the airport, new research from global loyalty experts ICLP has revealed that airports do have the power to persuade customers to spend longer at the terminal. A significant percentage of passengers said they would arrive at the airport earlier if they were offered shopping vouchers (56 percent) or food and drink vouchers (46 percent). In addition, while nearly one in five (19 percent) of those surveyed say that going to the airport is something they do simply because they have to, over half (a substantial 53 percent) say they actively enjoy visiting the airport. This suggests that there is clearly potential for airports to encourage passengers to spend more time at the terminal before their flight.

Passengers are also open to being tempted to spend more while in the terminal. More than half of passengers in the survey cited receiving offers in advance of travel as the number one factor that would persuade them to up their spending.

However, in order to encourage behavioural change amongst their customers, airports need to ensure that the communications they deliver to passengers prior to travel are relevant and personalised as well as timely. Only one third of airport customers feel that the communications they currently receive are relevant to them personally, or based on their preferences and past purchases at the airport. Nearly a quarter of passengers say communications are sent too late (22 percent) and over a third say they have to spend too much to take advantage of discounts. Only a quarter of passengers perceive them to be of any value (28 percent).

Mignon Buckingham, managing director of ICLP said that airports are becoming increasingly aware that the key to success is understanding the passenger. This is particularly clear as ACI World announced its new way to profile passengers in order to deliver greater non-aeronautical value at Trinity. “However many airports still have a considerable way to go when it comes to knowing the people who pass through their terminals.”

Buckingham continues that truly meaningful customer relationships are based on identifying and understanding the airport passenger as an individual, and then finding ways to engage that customer.

“Intelligent analysis and use of data together with the right CRM and customer loyalty programmes means we can gain a real understanding of personal customer preferences. That insight allows airports to increase the influence they have on customer behaviour. In turn, this means they can encourage passengers to turn their time at the airport into an experience, rather than just a process of passing through. They have then paved the way for genuine customer engagement, which in turn will drive a rise in revenue.”

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