Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the operator of Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, has launched its own technology and e-commerce business to respond to changes in the way passengers travel in the digital era.
MAG-O, located on site at Manchester Airport, has recruited a team of 65 experts attracted by the challenge of modernizing the passenger experience. Key hires have included software developers, designers, system architects and user experience specialists.
MAG-O sits ‘arms-length’ from the rest of the group to encourage the development of innovative and fresh thinking. The team will aim to improve the passengers’ end-to-end experience at MAG’s three airports through the introduction of better technology and innovative online products. The team is seeking much of its inspiration from outside the airport industry and has already begun trialling, testing and introducing dozens of initiatives across MAG’s digital footprint.
Nolan Hough, managing director of MAG-O, said, “For many of our passengers, the super-slick experiences they get from dedicated tech companies and popular venues like Disney and the Etihad Stadium are now the norm. MAG-O is about bringing that sort of thinking to the way we serve our passengers so that they can enjoy their time at the airport. Our mission is to connect up the journey so that passengers get a much smoother and stress-free experience.
“We are essentially a start-up and already MAG-O has introduced a number of changes to the wider MAG operation that have made a noticeable difference to passengers, including how they are able to find and book flights, receive live flight notifications, and purchase car parking and fast-track services.
“In the future, we are targeting a truly personalized airport experience where as a passenger you will be guided direct to your parking space via mobile web services, have your food ready and waiting for you at the restaurant of your choice, be able to take advantage of personalized discounts in our shops, and then finally be guided to the plane at exactly the right time for boarding.”
One of the first tasks for MAG-O has been to redesign and relaunch the airport websites, with each one now delivering faster load speeds and a more intuitive user experience. These sites are designed to be used on mobile devices, reflecting the fact that 60% of traffic is from passengers either at the airport or on their way.
The business has also embarked on testing new products that will improve the efficiency of MAG’s terminals and car parks, and offer passengers new online experiences. MAG-O is also redesigning the back-office systems, including online retail platforms and car park yield management systems. MAG-O plans to grow its workforce by a further 50% by April 2018.