Long gone are the days of airports offering the basics: ticket counters; a place to sit; coffee and a newspaper while you wait for your plane. Travelers today expect an elevated experience across all the touch points in their journey, from the curb to the gate. That means offering better shopping and dining options, clean and efficient facilities, and communicating with passengers in new ways.
Airport guests now expect – and deserve – to be provided with the information, products and services that will help them to have a more pleasant and efficient airport experience. And, with travelers now choosing to use digital channels as their preferred medium to access this information, airports must find a way to meet them where they already are in the digital space. This means, Airports need to establish themselves as digital marketplaces in which guests can find what they need at the tip of their finger.
Rethinking the airport as a digital marketplace involves providing airport guests and stakeholders with the information, products and services they want through the integration and presentation of airport and third-party content and offerings. Here are the five critical steps required to make this transformation a reality:
1. Allow guests to interact with the airport through digital channels that they already use and prefer. Many airports are developing their own app and forcing users to download and use it in order to obtain information and services. An app may be one channel to offer, but airport users are choosing to use many other channels that don’t require the extra – and sometimes annoying – step of downloading yet another app. This is especially true of occasional visitors who don’t want or need a standalone app for one particular airport. Other channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Amazon Alexa, Go Google and more all are being used by passengers already. Airports need to be able to provide their information and services through these channels to reach the greatest audience – where people are already paying attention.
2. Seamlessly integrate and offer airport and third-party content and offerings digitally. An API hub or middleware solution is required to integrate internal and third-party information and services, as well as to publish airport information, products and services that can be consumed, offered and distributed through third-party channels. Such third-parties potentially include concessioners, ground transportation providers, hotels, rental car providers and more. Airport products and services also need to be distributed through third-party channels in order to reach the full range of guests using the airport and to optimize revenue. Airports cannot expect that travelers will always and only go to airport channels when they use the airport. Indeed, many people are going to airline, ground transportation or other apps first. Airports need to collaborate with airlines and other third-parties to get them to help distribute the information, products and services and make sure it reaches the end user, as well as to help increase revenue made selling products and services.