Airports are the last places we see before leaving home, the first places of arrival to someplace new. They are mini cities that never sleep. The airport experience has changed drastically over the past decade to reflect the needs of a modern traveler and the evolution of technology, as well as safety factors after terrorist attacks and threats. No longer is the airport only an access point for transportation – it is also a cultural, retail, and business meeting place for the whole world.
Old infrastructures are changing, and new airports are popping up at a dramatic rate: over 350 new airports are planned across Asia-Pacific area as tourism booms more than ever before. China alone plans to build over 100 in the next 10 years as a growing middle class emerges there (ref: South China Morning Post, 9/28/2014).
Air travel, though different than pre-2001, is still on rise. Gone are the days of calling a travel agent, here is the time of technology-based travel. Tourists rely on internet companies like travelocity.com or orbitz.com to book flights and hotels, and business people can shop for the best prices online too. Smart-phones make available in the palm of our hands every schedule, map, destination, flight alert or delay, text, email, and tweet.
What are the common characteristics that must be reflected in the Modern Airport itself in order to smoothly operate in this booming era of technology influenced travel?
1) Airports must have architecture that is not only beautiful, but intuitively functional.
Airports are increasingly reliant on non-aeronautical revenue streams to ensure profitability such as restaurants, retail shops, digital advertising, and concessions. The industry needs to rely on these alternate revenue sources, taking into consideration rising fuel prices, and uncertain economy, and constrained airport budgets. Airports are establishing themselves as diversified commercial enterprises. And now, there are affordable ways to improve airport design and passenger experiences that get a big ROI.
If an airport passenger is enjoying their surroundings, feeling comfortable and relaxed, statistics prove that they will spend more. Garish signage (in multiple languages that some travelers still will not understand) are an eyesore that airports cannot afford. Interactive multi-language kiosks are the answer. Digital Signage should be also utilized by retailers and restaurants instead – to attract customers and increase revenue streams. Modern terminals are built around a central “hub” where passengers can occupy their time, and spend money.
Intuitive way-finding can lead the passenger not just to gates and boarding areas, but also these hubs. This is achieved with lighting, tiling, and Welcome Centers. It makes for a pleasant atmosphere, which leads to decreases in stress and a better passenger experience. If people are comfortable (i.e. less stress, easy orientation), they will spend more, might also will reflect their experiences on the world of social media, which equals free endorsements and positive PR – or, negative reviews that cannot be unwritten!
2) Airports need to evolve their offerings as technology evolves
Technology and innovation offer immediate potential to address passenger frustration and processing speed. Technology like mobile device charging stations, self-service kiosks, Animated Virtual Assistants, and interactive digital signage are the mark of an airport that understands its customers need for instant information and the connection to family and home that modern technological communication affords, while streamlining the passenger check-in process as well. Self-service technologies enhance the passenger process experience and allow human resources to be allocated for more important tasks.
Waiting and relaxing in an airport has to be fun and engaging, as well. While waiting, most people let their eyes wander a room, looking for something stimulating, interesting and engaging, If a passenger feels this, they feel valued and will come back.
3) Airports Must Be Branded
Airports compete just like any other business model. The most successful businesses evolve over time, especially with the exponential changes in technology taking place. Even regional airports that are smaller in scope need to keep up with the big hubs – their passengers expect it. Airline service and passenger loyalty depend on it. What better way to get noticed in this information-driven world than with visual displays? Displays and digital signage have become an indispensable part of life. Thanks to the IPhone and Tablets, there is now an increasing demand for touch-screens.
This technology is not just engaging for the user, but allows for monitoring and tracking of use. Parabit offers software-as-service that can help airports allocate resources and get a clear vision of what technologies and advertisements are performing, and which are not.
Benefits of Self-Service and Branding Technology at Airports:
1) Centralized Security
2) Reduced Wait Time
3) Integrative and Engaging
4) ROI with Advertising
5) Increased Revenue Streams
For more information on Parabit’s Airport Solutions, reach us directly here.