Paul Hinchy, head of transport at WiFi Spark, discusses the importance of wi-fi in airport terminals, which is cited as one of the most important amenities for passengers who expect a fully-connected experience while traveling.
The lines between business and pleasure are becoming increasingly blurred. With ever-changing passenger expectations, airports in the UK must look to enhance the passenger experience by delivering constant, reliable and secure wi-fi.
Public wi-fi has become a part of everyday life and people expect to be able to access the internet whenever they are out and about. There are very few places in the UK where public wi-fi is not available, with many businesses travelers preferring it to the 3G or 4G connections and associated high roaming costs.
Both business travelers and those on personal trips have increasingly become used to a continuously connected experience both at home and at work, and over the past five years this expectation has extended to their travel time.
In UK airports, business passengers consider wi-fi a time-saving necessity that enables them to maintain productivity, compensating for having to travel on long flights or at the weekend.
Similarly, a strong wi-fi connection means that parents can keep children entertained in the departure lounge or keep in touch with relatives ahead of a flight.
Increasing competition from other forms of transport that are already embracing better connectivity means that airports need to better cater for their passengers.
A study by CheapFlights.co.uk has cited London City Airport as the number one airport in the UK for wi-fi connectivity, according to passengers. Newcastle International Airport was named as the best airport to fly from overall.
Holidays were listed as one of the most expensive purchases a consumer can make after buying a house or a car. Airports need to look at ubiquitous connectivity that leverages the convergence of self-service, mobility and collaborative decision making, to help passengers make the most of the airport experience.
Regional airports are demonstrating their ability to stay ahead of the curve by utilizing wi-fi-powered business intelligence to provide an enhanced wi-fi solution for their passengers.
London City airport offers passengers wi-fi coverage throughout the arrival and departure gates and the terminal buildings, as well as offering private, corporate and public wi-fi access.
A robust wi-fi solution is a business necessity. Coupled with advanced analytics, this enables airports to unlock the value of their wi-fi to create a deep understanding of passenger behavior, with a granular view of their customer demographic.
Real-time data analytics that feed into the airport’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM), coupled with a fully branded and personalized user experience portal, allows for a level of engagement that drives customer satisfaction and loyalty and increases business revenue.
Analytics software enables airports to respond quickly and intelligently to requests or criticism from passengers. It also allows them to anticipate behavior and offer an individual, personalized experience through branded user experience portals, where rewards and loyalty schemes can be made available.
Location analytics dashboards allow airports to view customer movement in real time or within a time period of choice. Airports can see the journeys that their passengers make throughout the airport, allowing them to identify popular locations, movement patterns and categorize journeys within a venue by type.
This permits airports to manage terminals or specific areas more effectively and reduce infrastructure congestion during busy periods. Monitoring heavy traffic areas can also be used to help improve store and fire escape routes, or to better place advertorials to maximize revenue.
There is also a security aspect. Having the ability to monitor passenger movement throughout a terminal means that a sudden mass movement away from one particular spot can help to quickly identify an event, enabling a quick response sent straight to the key areas.
The use of custom analytics modules that can integrate many different data sources can be delivered in accordance with an airport’s bespoke needs. The service provides a better understanding of customer needs in order to improve their experience and increase revenue scope.
The intelligent platform can incorporate several data functions, including analyzing footfall data, social media feeds, survey data, event data, environment data, sales data and any other available data source.
The business and passenger benefits of a fully integrated wi-fi solution for engagement and profitability are apparent and it is plain to see why more and more airports are looking to adopt wi-fi as part of their communications and BI strategies.
By embracing the latest wi-fi technology, airports are able to further enhance the passenger experience. Combined with robust passenger data, airports can gain a real insight into their passengers, allowing them to effectively tailor engagement.
By meeting and exceeding expectations, airports can immediately have a huge impact on the way they are perceived by their most important asset – the passenger.
February 1, 2018