Survey reveals passengers prefer technology over human interaction

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The majority of passengers around the world prefer using self-service technologies and mobile devices to facilitate their journey rather than dealing with people, according to the 2016 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey.

More than 9,000 passengers were surveyed from 19 different countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Overall the report found that 85% of passengers had a positive travel experience, up from 80% the year before.

Noticeably, passengers were happier at the stages of the journey where they were able to use technology to manage their trip. At the booking stage, for example, which can be done online, via a mobile device or with an agent, 93% of passengers had a positive experience.

The survey found that the majority of negative experiences occurred during the security screening, passport control and baggage collection steps of the journey, peaking at nearly one third of passengers at security. These are the steps with the fewest self-service options.

Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA, said, “Knowing that passengers prefer using their own devices and self-service technology throughout the journey should encourage airlines, airports and government to examine how they can transform the experience at security, border control and baggage collection. The technology is available today and the industry can be confident that it will be welcomed by passengers.”

The IT Trends Survey recognized that not all passengers had the same preferences when it comes to using technology and identified four different types of traveler – careful planner, pampered, hyper-connected and open-minded adventurer. Each type uses technology in different ways and SITA’s research showed that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach risked alienating certain passengers. To help illustrate the differences, SITA created a short online form that enables passengers to find out what kind of traveler they are.

Regardless of their type, the survey found that once passengers converted from person-to-person interaction to using self-service technology, few wanted to go back. Even if they were not satisfied with one type of self-service technology, 54% tended to try another rather than revert to human contact. For check in, 91% of travelers using self-service technology will continue to do so.

“It is clear that passengers love technology. Once they start to use kiosks, websites, mobile devices, automated gates and other tech they will continue to do so rather than return to human interaction,” added Violante. “As airlines and airports look to introduce new technology they should also note that ‘ease-of-use’ is vital for passengers. At check-in, ease of use can increase kiosk adoption by as much as 86% and mobile by 59%.”

Other key findings from the survey found that the majority of passengers (55%) use some form of self-service technology on their journey and that the top priority for 75% of tech-savvy travelers is to receive some form of baggage notifications, such as wait times at baggage reclaim. The survey also found that 92% of passengers are happy during dwell time at the airport, but providing poor quality food, entertainment and shopping are worse than not providing any at all.

Ilya Gutlin, president, Asia Pacific, SITA, said, “Passenger and airports are realizing that self-service doesn’t mean less service. It means better service. A Chinese passenger traveling from Australia, for example, may struggle to find someone in the terminal who speaks Mandarin, but the language options available on many self-service systems eliminates this complication.”

To take the SITA traveler profile survey click here.

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About Author

, editor-in-chief

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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