Using business intelligence to increase profitability and passenger satisfaction

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Simon Pont, CEO, ECR Retail Systems, a manufacturer of handheld devices, explains why airport operators and concessionaires should be using the latest mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) systems to track and analyze passenger behavior.

From booking airline tickets to retail, passengers are increasingly expecting a first-class, holistic customer experience. Being able to pay for goods, both quickly and easily, when dining or indulging in a little retail therapy is all part of this.

At the same time, airlines and airports are increasingly using customer data to enhance their business decision-making, and looking at new ways to maximize profits. The most progressive operators realize that adopting the latest technologies will improve the passenger experience, as well as grow new revenue streams. Modern, secure and convenient payment services are already becoming more commonplace and sophisticated business intelligence (BI) facilitates new opportunities for expanding retail sales.

For example, passengers now have a wide range of methods they can use to buy airline tickets and there are often opportunities, across the customer journey, to market and sell ancillary goods and services along with these sales.

When looking to research and purchase their tickets, travelers use several channels, ranging from comparison websites and mobile apps, to web trawling and travel agents. With these multiple touchpoints, companies are given numerous opportunities to reach their audiences and personalize the consumer purchase journey.

While several companies are capitalizing on tracking these moments and data points, many are not. Opportunities include selling ‘add-on items’ such as insurance, accommodation, food and beverage, seat upgrades, retail and even destination attraction ticketing.

Analyzing this purchasing journey can enable companies to form a more holistic view of their target customers across the entire consumer lifecycle, which in turn supports sales programs, delivers better customer service and drives growth.

Adoption of the best payment technologies by airports can help streamline customer service, enable a better understanding of passenger needs and deliver the best consumer experience while maximizing income per head across the world’s airport hubs.

The airline industry can also improve and even excel in their customer service, and at the same time positively impact business growth by incorporating BI now available via new, sophisticated mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) systems.

By using big data analytics to predict customer-specific purchase behavior, businesses can offer customers a more personalized set of options and increase customer spend before and during travel. Not only can MPOS systems provide greater speed and accuracy and lead to generation of huge data, they can open opportunities for analyzing each stream of data for greater insight in respect of stock, product price, consumer’s taste and buying tendency, all which impacts profitability of the retailer in the terminal or airline.

Capturing relevant information, such as passenger needs and preferences, across the entire customer lifecycle, is vital to support sales campaigns and deliver better customer service, which will ultimately drive business growth. Big data analytics can be used to predict customer-specific purchase behavior, allowing businesses to offer customers increased personalization and encourage customer spend both pre-flight and onboard.

The first step is to ensure that appropriate e-commerce, personalization, analytics and logistics technologies have been implemented. The next is to look at whether the technologies currently being used in the industry are suitable for the modern passenger and are helping operators drive revenue streams.

According to the UK Card Association, the UK is one of the most contactless-ready countries in the world. This increased uptake of contactless means that companies are now considering updated payment systems to replace their outdated chip and pin kiosks or ticket desks, to meet VISA and MasterCard’s contactless mandate.

Some older devices which include perhaps two or three-piece MPOS systems – MPOS, card reader and receipt printer – have poor connectivity and energy usage. The more modern, all-in-one, contactless, MPOS technologies which support personalization, sales and a better customer experience are now becoming essential.

With these new initiatives, and in a world where personalization and a good customer experience is now routinely expected, businesses associated with the aviation industry must consider whether their offerings will match demand and whether their payment options, including MPOS strategies, are really delivering value for both the modern airline passenger and the airports themselves.

November 30, 2017

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