A survey of more than 50 US airports finds that 60% of travelers have negative views of airport customer care services. In response, 68% of airport development officers see experiential technology as key to improving traveler satisfaction.
These findings are summarized in a report – The Revolution in Post-Pandemic Airport Amenities – which was commissioned by audiovisual and technology services company Electrosonic. The survey comes as operators attempt to deal with the customer care crisis. The survey was created to provide decision-makers with information about current levels of investment and future plans to improve passenger experience. It also provides real-world insights into the attitudes and intentions of airport executives.
The challenge for operators
Alexander Hann, Electrosonic’s senior marketing manager, explains, “We wanted to get a realistic picture of investment in passenger experience. So, we commissioned an independent research company to conduct telephone interviews with more than 50 key decision makers in major airports around the USA, including Orlando International Airport, LAX, Houston International Airport and Washington Reagan International Airport. They asked executives about airport facilities planning, passenger attitudes, airport technology trends and timescales for investment and budgeting.”
The report’s data can help other airport operators benchmark their progress in customer satisfaction. It provides information on the types of technology that airports are deploying, particularly experiential technologies. These are technologies such as interactive self-service facilities or experience-based attractions that can transform stressful airport environments and improve passenger satisfaction.
Electrosonic has been working in partnership with multimedia studio Moment Factory to develop large-scale, signature multimedia projects that combine creative technologies with storytelling to shape a new kind of visitor experience in transportation hubs. According to Electrosonic, these technologies reflect the survey’s reported views of airport development officers who see experiential technology easing the traveler journey, enhancing guest satisfaction and helping build a positive attitude towards the operator.
According to Brandon Harp, senior business development manager at Electrosonic, most negative views are due to changing passenger expectations: “Tech-savvy passengers expect efficient service and a welcoming, memorable experience, particularly when they may be spending several hours in a terminal. This report highlights the importance of leveraging technology at every stage in the passenger journey through the terminal to create a seamless, stress-free, positive experience.”
To meet those expectations and drive essential change, the report finds that executives are expecting to use significant public funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill 2023 to invest in next-generation digital facilities, services and experiences to improve both operational efficiency and passenger satisfaction.
To help executives understand the technology trends that are reimagining the passenger experience, the report provides insights into both existing deployments and current investment plans. For example, the report finds that a key area of focus is passenger self-service options, with 94% of responding airports planning or implementing facilities such as e-gates, automated boarding pass and passport verification and interactive digital signage.
The report also found that leading airports are investing in technology-enabled attractions to create memorable experiences that can relieve the boredom of lengthy waits and build a more positive attitude towards the airport. Most respondents also recognized the importance of providing an enhanced retail experience, with most implementing or considering interactive retail partnerships. Additionally, they are investing in digital advertising to reach a large captive audience and grow non-passenger revenue. Illustrated examples in the report showcase some of the immersive, interactive installations that are creating a lively, fun atmosphere and transforming functional airport spaces.
The examples illustrate Moment Factory’s and Electrosonic’s visionary understanding of the airport industry. Among their past collaborations are the Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, The Orchard at Doha’s Hamad International Airport and most recently, the new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport where the Digital Journey of Surprises offers a New Jersey-centric passenger experience that includes fun facts, interactive trivia, star-studded vignettes and impactful sculptural elements.
This report provides information for decision makers as they plan to overcome challenges and differentiate their brand through investment in passenger experience. Sean McChesney, Electrosonic’s vice president of sales, concludes, “This report provides a vital benchmark for the industry and provides practical examples of technology initiatives that airport operators can put into action.”