By Liying Gu
“Mobile is the key to greater future commercial success in the air transportation industry,” said Henry Harteveldt, co-founder/airline & travel industry analyst, Atmosphere Research Group, in front of over 400 attendees at the ACI-NA Airport Concessions Conference held in downtown Denver on Nov.13.
Harteveldt believes that three factors drive passenger behavior: individualist, immediacy and inspiration. Therefore it is important to understand what makes passengers “tick” to enjoy better sales. A recent on-line benchmark survey conducted by Atmosphere on U.S. leisure airline passengers shows that for many, travel is a time for self-indulgence. The survey estimates that over 86 percent of the air passengers have an account on at least one major social network. More and more air passengers own and use portable tech devices such as smartphones and tablets, and half use their mobile devices to pay for items they have purchased. A critical mass of passengers now uses location-based social networks, increasing two-way dialogue.
Airports can utilize Bluetooth and other mobile tracking technology to track traveler locations and flow patterns, thereby enhancing customer experience. Harteveldt anticipates that mobile will become travel’s most important digital gateway.
A similar theme was echoed in a presentation made by ICF SH&E. On average, a domestic passenger only has 35 discretionary minutes – so getting a passenger engaged at the airport should start before the person gets to the airport utilizing the right technology. The right technology would help engage a customer when they have a decision to make or time on their hands. Airports will need to create multiple technology channels that help the concessionaires and partners to market themselves effectively thereby supporting the creation of incremental non-aeronautical revenue.
ACI-NA is trying to go mobile. With this conference in Denver, ACI-NA debuted a smartphone app that puts all the details concerning the ACI-NA Airport Concessions Conference at the fingertips of the attendees. ACI-NA will use this event-specific app at future conferences.