April 27, 2015

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The Digital Revolution and Smart Airports

The business model for Airports is significantly changing with the increase in customer expectations driven by the Digital experience, growing air traffic that is impacting the current infrastructure, the environmental impact, and the competition among Airports.

While the growth in traffic has been a boon from a revenue standpoint, increased traffic has the ability to impact flight delays, baggage handling, and congestion at security checkpoints and immigration/custom lanes.

Yet, the biggest change of them all is the digital revolution, which provides opportunities to connect directly with customers, and provides increased ancillary revenue that is driven by mobility. This also creates challenges in terms of transparency and information delivery.  Over 80% of passengers today carry a smartphone – a dramatic growth when compared to five years ago when only 25% of travellers carried a device. 

“Digital Airports” will become the norm that will utilize digital technologies to not only engage the consumer but to also drive efficiencies, cut costs, and drive a better experience with employees and partners.  According to a SITA survey, 72% of passengers are willing to share their personal information, thus making all these constituents ready for the digital revolution. 

By 2017 around 78% of the airports around the world are expected to increase the digital experience for passengers by offering customer-centric relationships, updates on wait times in security, and local traffic updates.   On the consumer front, location-based information will be the key driver of a truly Digital Airport - whether through Beacons or Wifi triangulation.  A key component of driving such ancillary revenues will be mobile payment enablement that can help customers make payments for these offers with the minimal amount of clicks.  Airports can use such information in the following ways:

  • Retail: Using location-based information to provide the nearest retail locations while using that information to drive location-based offers.  For e.g. providing a coupon for a restaurant if the customer is close to that specific restaurant
  • Parking: Providing live information and guiding customers to the parking option of their choice.  Again, upsell offers can be made to customers to move them from remote lots to terminal or valet lots
  • Ground transportation: Providing live wait times for buses, trains, car rentals, shuttles, etc.
  • Digital access: Allowing customers to use their phones that are enabled to access security and verify access to priority queues, etc.
  • Way finding: Providing directions to their gate, baggage claim areas, retail outlets, or immigration and customs areas or even providing ground transportation options from a customer’s home to the airport while providing live departure time information, etc.

Digital can also be used in internal operations, to provide employees access to customer information, flight information, schedules, and more. 

HCL is engaged in developing innovative new solutions for “Digital Airports” and uses its Business KPI-driven approach to help them drive a business case to go Digital.

Our experts help Airports on this journey, by:

  • Identifying the right solutions for the Airport’s business strategy
  • Developing the solutions
  • Integrating these solutions with other back-end systems and partner systems
  • Creating and comparing current KPIs to Airport industry metrics
  • Helping develop a business case for implementing the program