Airports of the Future.

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In the past few years there has been a massive thirst for travel, whether for business or leisure. It’s as if the entire world is taking to the skies.

Aviation, although only somewhat acknowledged, has always been a catalyst for economic growth, enabling people and businesses to reach a global marketplace for goods and services and to travel for work, leisure or education.

Air freight is essential to modern life, but it is in the movement of people (precious cargo) that airports have the greatest effect on economic development.

Which is why, across the globe, airports are under intense pressure to expand and renew their facilities, with modern IT enabled services.

Airports are expensive. Maintaining them requires huge amounts of cash inflow. In an economic climate where governments are increasingly cutting expenditure to reduce debt, government financing and full ownership of airports is not always a sustainable or a sufficient source of revenue, hence privatization of airports is a must with the fundamental motive of arranging finances to upgrade or expand airports. Large amounts of  capital investments is needed by airports not only to keep operations smooth, since most of the work must be completed without interrupting current airport operations, but also to enable airports to make money from their investments.

Two-fifths of airport revenues in evolved airports around the world, come from retail and food outlets, car parking, advertising and other such ancillary revenues.

To stay in business, airports need to keep passengers streaming through their departure gates and through their shops, restaurants and bars. Plane tickets may be getting cheaper , but one way or the other, we all end up paying more for bigger, better airports by way of taxes and surcharges.

Airports of the future: areas set for radical change.

Airports are changing fast, as the rise of new technologies and growing environmental constraints play a crucial role in shaping the future of aviation. Airports are anything but static environments. Internal and external pressures are forcing hubs around the world to evolve into advanced, sustainable complexes offering a service that goes beyond mere transportation. Every competing global hub today vies to offer an experience like no other; newer attractions are being marketed as ‘destination airports’ rather than a ‘transiting’ one.

Baggage reclaim areas repurposed to increase capacity.

Barring the fully automated airport terminals around the world, there are still a lot many airports that need to address the issue of baggage handling, especially in smaller airports which provide the last mile connectivity. The issues of missing/ stolen baggage often leads to angst and stress amongst passengers and airport staff, not to mention the financial damages.

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Changi Airport

Shorter security checks.

Checkpoint screening systems will eliminate longer queues and recurring causes of disruption and delays at border controls. Airports are considering using technologies that can scan liquids and other materials from inside bags. Using advanced software and detection algorithms and 3D volumetric imaging, it would mean that passengers would no longer have to take liquids or electronic devices out of their bags.

Improving public transport links.

Many airports are working alongside partners and stakeholders to reduce their carbon footprint, from departure halls to the airport apron by improving surface access and train links and promoting public transport over cars.

This much-needed collaborative effort from both the railways and aviation could lead to higher volumes of rail travellers, cheaper trips and, in the long term, fewer cars reaching the airport every day.

If this concept proves effective, it would mean that airports can resize and re-use car parks to meet the growing capacity demands.

Biometric Scanners.

As part of the check-in process passengers will be scanned for biometric identifiers like facial features, iris patterns and fingerprints to verify their identities. This information is shared with immigration and security officials to streamline the arrival and departure process.

This technology, already undergoing trial at Heathrow, Schiphol, and Changi airports, could be used to track passengers from arrival to departure. It’s faster – and more reliable – than checking passports manually.

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Customer service: the rise of robots.

In the coming decades, robots are likely to take over several customer-facing jobs currently held by airport staff, especially as airports grow overcrowded.

Technology is already replacing admin jobs at check-in desks, with most airlines encouraging customers to use their apps for check-in and many implementing self-service bag drops.

But as years go by, we will likely say goodbye to staff working at bars and restaurants and many other areas of the departure hall, leaving space for robots.

As airplanes are changing to becoming more fuel and environment efficient so must airports too. From check in to disembarking, airport innovation should focus on offering efficiency.

Travellers world over are always on the lookout for a memorable travelling experience before they have even boarded the planes.

-M

 

 

OS:APH.com;AirportTechnology.com
PC:Telegraph.CO.UK;INdesignLiveSingapore;The National

Show them you care.

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After spending years training newbie entrants in Automated Ticketing, Tourism and Soft skills in the field of Aviation, Travel and Tourism, I can’t help but notice the customer service delivered to me everywhere I go, whether I am shopping, dining, or even travelling. I guess the trainer in me still has that ‘Hawk Eye’ when it comes to service.

Great customer service is the holy grail of any business. Competition in the marketplace has made it crucial for businesses to spruce up on not only their hardware but more importantly their software – aka employees.

Having said that, customer service training is and should always be the top priority in organizations having multiple customer touch-points.

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In fact service approach needs to be in the DNA of the organisation. Only if product, policies and strategies are designed keeping customer’s wellbeing in mind that a good service experience can truly be delivered by customer interfacing teams.

Today travellers are more demanding than ever. They have more power than they used to. They are smarter and have higher expectations than ever before. They are more up-to-date and better informed today, as technology has made it easier for them to do their homework.

Smart travellers – empowered travellers – know what options they want hence airlines, travel companies and hotels must be equipped to meet customers on their terms, when, where and how they want.

In the Aviation industry good customer experiences are of great significance. Customer demand is about meeting and exceeding expectations and making the customer feel special with a more personalized experience.

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For example; Emirates, provides the so called ‘Knowledge-driven Inflight Service’, which enables cabin crew to operate with greater efficiency and provide a more heightened level of service to the airline’s customers. This technology enables the crew to know the customer’s preferences and issues that might have occurred during their previous travels thereby enabling the carrier to offer personalized service, unrivalled within the industry and for which the airline prides itself upon.

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Closer home, SpiceJet provides a host of offers like ‘Hot Meals’ on board which is a paradigm shift for Low Cost Airlines. It is a great delight to customers, and a differentiator for the airline. ‘SpiceBiz’ the new Business Class offering at affordable fares, and a premium product called SpiceMax which has spacious seats with extra leg space, complimentary meal, Priority Check In, Bags out first, etc. – all at a nominal charge.

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Eventually the best way to retain your customer is knowing what they need. Courteous staff, ease at checkin /boarding, inflight service, are just few of the ways you can keep your customers happy. Airline Loyalty programs and club memberships offer exclusive benefits such as a complimentary pick up service to the airport and also at the final destination, or a Lounge access card at departing airports to its First or Business class passengers.

Unfortunately, complaining passengers are on the rise. They have complaints, sometimes frivolous, about their journey. A delayed flight for instance has the twitterati in a twist. Passengers start abusing and condemning the airline not realising the reason could be genuine for such delays.

Aircrafts are not supposed to be standing on the tarmac forever. They are supposed to ferry passengers in the air. Most airlines have a tight turnaround time and if the aircraft is delayed from the originating airport for some reason such as inclement weather or offloading the baggage of a gate-no-show passenger, this cartwheels into delays at further sectors.

But people have no clue about the intricacies such as time slots, availability of runways, crew rest coming into effect, and many other factors involved. Passenger safety is of utmost importance to any carrier. And delays are as much a part of air travel as on time performance.

In the past, when customers had a complaint, they’d speak to a gate agent or call the airline. Today, they’re more likely to post about their problem on social media, including Twitter and Facebook — which means the world is watching to see how the airlines react.

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Furthermore today the impact of social media trolls influences the passenger’s choice a great deal. It has therefore become crucially important to have a knowledgeable team at the helm of all Social media platforms, to capture the Voice of the Customer and provide quick, helpful, understanding and encouraging response and support, in a timely manner.

Airlines always keep trying their best to keep their customers happy. For instance, incase of a delayed flight of more than 12 hours, most airlines would offer a hotel stay until the next flight becomes available or rebook/transfer passengers to another airline, space permitting.

Air travel can be a confusing experience for a first time traveler. The customer service team must be able to convey timely and useful information to the passengers through their Apps, emails, WhatsApp, SMS, and other social media channels.

Keeping all customers happy at all times is as elusive as finding a unicorn. Providing flawless service, however, is not always easy.No matter how many customer service surveys are conducted, much of the customer psyche will forever remain of ‘yeh dil mange more’ !.

All said and done, in today’s world of competitiveness, service industry must invoke technology to couple training and fine-tuned SoP’s to deliver top notch, proactive and personalised customer service to keep their customers loyal.

 

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Twitter;Bloomberg;SmartCitiesWorld;Emirates;Spicejet;Future Travel Experience;AfroMum