Airport customer experience on the road to Bali

David Whitely by David Whitely | Feb 11, 2019

As competition and innovation continues to drive the airport industry, it is becoming increasingly crucial for operators to recognize that customer experience is a key driver of success.

This is a global trend. According to research and advisory company Gartner, 81% of marketing professionals believe their companies will mostly or completely compete on the basis of customer experience by 2020, while a study by consulting firm Walker found that customer experience will overtake price and product as brand differentiators in the same timeframe.

In the aviation industry, airports are responding and are taking a leading role in improving passenger and customer experience.

Airports in the lead

Gone are the days when airports were considered infrastructure providers, they are now sophisticated, innovative, competitive businesses in their own right. They offer a diverse range of experiences for customers, from the moment they book their flight until the moment they reach their destination.

Indeed, as competition in the airline market has led to a focus on price and choice of destination, sometimes coming at the expense of service, airports have sought to fill this gap by offering a range of experiences to customers during their journey through the airport.

This goes beyond customer service or the range of food, beverage or retail opportunities an airport provides. The same focus on the customer is being applied to the more functional aspects of the airport journey – security and immigration control, for instance – to help smooth the overall experience.

Airports are grasping technology and innovation, outlined in programmes such as Smart Security to improve passenger and cabin baggage screening at airports worldwide.

Airport Service Quality

To assist airports to meet the higher levels of service and experience that passengers are demanding, ACI developed its Airport Service Quality (ASQ) programme which provides objective measurement and benchmarking.

These are critical in driving performance in any business especially in such a competitive and dynamic one and the ASQ programme is the only globally-established benchmarking programme measuring passengers’ satisfaction while they are travelling through an airport.

It provides a detailed view of the passenger experience through the complete airport journey and the ASQ Awards celebrate the top airport performers who serve as role models for the industry. Airport operators subscribe to the programme as an aid in their commitment to delivering the best experience for passengers travelling through their airports. Some 400 airports across 90 countries participate in the programme.

From this programme, ACI also developed its Customer Experience Global Summit to help airport operators understand and meet the ever-changing needs of their customers by exploring trends in passenger experience.

Last year’s inaugural summit was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and this year’s event is expected to attract more than 400 delegates from around the world to Bali, Indonesia in partnership with PT Angkasa Pura I (Persero) from 2 to 5 September.

The Summit will comprise three main elements: an international Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Forum, a Customer Excellence Global Summit, and the prestigious annual ASQ Awards ceremony.

This year the awards have a new look and a new format which reflect the increasingly dynamic airports industry.

The bottom line

As the industry embarks on the road to Bali, it is important to recognise that focusing on the needs and expectations of the customer makes good business sense.

Price Waterhouse Coopers has found that customers will pay more for a better experience and it has also been found that just a one per cent upswing in customer satisfaction at an airport can have a positive impact on the bottom line with increases in non-aeronautical revenue.

David Whitely

David Whitely

Senior Director, FTI Consulting
David Whitely is a ACI World Business Partner with more than 25 years’ experience in journalism, corporate, media, and public relations in the UK, Canada and Australia. He has held in roles with HSBC, and with the governments of the UK and Western Australia. In aviation, David has served in the senior leadership teams of London Gatwick Airport and ACI World. He is currently a Senior Director with FTI Consulting based in the Asia-Pacific region and supports clients on strategic communications matters including ESG, crisis and reputation management, and change communication.
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