UK based air travel intelligence company, OAG, has unveiled their most recent tech market assessment, The Airport Delight Report: Humans vs. Machines. The survey was conducted on more than 2,000 U.S travelers. With this data, OAG can deliver up-to-date information to airport leaders and tech providers that hope to delight their travelers, improve functionality, and increase earnings.
Travelers aren’t ready for complete airport automation
The key finding was although airports benefit greatly from automation, majority of people prefer human customer service in nearly every sector other than ticketing and check-in. Human interaction is preferred with concierge (83 percent), in-flight services (80 percent), boarding (64 percent), security (55 percent), and baggage (54 percent).
“We’re seeing that the market isn’t quite ready for a full-fledged automated airport experience although we expect that [will] evolve over time, with tech eventually becoming the clear preference,” said Chief Product Officer at OAG, Vipul Nakum. “While investing in emerging technology is smart, travel leaders need to remember the easy and simple wins, like consistent flight status updates, text message alerts before boarding, more baggage loading zones, and in-airport directions and GPS. These simple improvements reduce friction and delight passengers.”
OAG also analyzed attitudes towards two underestimated profitable airport opportunities: spontaneously requested gate-side delivery, and ordering in advance from a mobile device. Results show that although pre-ordering meals and beverages to be picked up at a gate-side restaurant was only embraced by 6 percent of travelers, roughly 66 percent said they might take advantage of this option in the future. While 9 percent utilized the ordering of gate-side delivered consumables, 62 percent are willing to give it a shot.
“The easiest way to delight travelers and get them to spend more gate-side, is through convenience and information,” Nakum commented. “Travelers that feel truly informed, with consistent updates across all channels, are more comfortable and confident venturing away from the gate to patronize restaurants, retail stores, and bars. For travel leaders looking to capitalize, the more proactive and prescriptive they can be with their updates – ‘Group A is boarding in 15 minutes, Group B in 30 minutes, last call in 40 minutes,’ the more valuable.”