Research reveals factors that determine travelers’ choice of airport

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Left: Mignon Buckingham, managing director, ICLP

New research commissioned by global loyalty agency ICLP has revealed the factors behind how passengers choose which airports they use.

The research showed that many of the elements, such as the cost of fares or convenient transport links, were key factors in the decision making process, but outside of the airports’ control.

However, there were many factors within the airports’ control that could sway the choice of passengers. These include a number of elements that improve the convenience of travel, such as efficient security (77%), or easily accessible parking (48%). Other travelers are swayed by the concepts that make the airport experience more pleasant, such as the food and beverage offering (44%); shop or restaurant offers and discounts from the airport (37%); a good choice of retailers (34%); and access to a premium airport lounge (34%). 

When it comes to attracting millennial passengers, the survey found that a larger number of younger passengers (58%) actually enjoy the airport experience when compared with their baby boomer parents (42%).

Millennials also have a different view when it comes to looking at which airport they will use and the influences that sway them. When choosing an airport, Generation X and millennials are much more influenced than baby boomers by food and drink outlets (33% of baby boomers vs. 46% of Generation X and 47% of millennials) and airport loyalty programmes (31% of baby boomers vs. 44% Generation X and 41% millennials).

Other important factors that influence choice of airports are access to lounges (23% of baby boomers vs. 39% of Generation X and 37% of millennials) and restaurant and shopping discounts (22% of baby boomers vs. 41% of Generation X and 43% of millennials). Choice of retailers for shopping is also a factor (20% of baby boomers vs. 38% of Generation X and 39% 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.

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.

“Our study revealed that a significant 40% of passengers picked their airport based on the airport loyalty program. 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 capitalize on the crucial traveler trends.”

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

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About Author

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Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for nearly a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and e-commerce to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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