September 18 2018  |  Airline & Terminal News

Digitization and the passenger experience

By Anne De Hauw

Does it not feel as though there are too many products and services that add very little to the passenger journey? It is pretty obvious to me that the current model is not necessarily improving passenger happiness. Moreover, it is exhausting our planet.

Luckily, there is a growing awareness among airline passengers and industry leaders that the air travel industry needs to be smart, sustainable and deliver meaningful experiences. Laws and legislation are also changing, and authorities are taking responsibility. Large or small, each initiative counts, and care and respect for the planet becomes an expectation rather than a nice-to-have.

But the bigger question remains: how can airlines and airports become enablers of authentic travel experiences in order to earn passengers’ trust and build loyalty?

Of course, food and beverage is an important part of the customer experience, addressing both the functional and emotional needs of travelers. Hospitality also means caring about the customer and what you offer them to eat. Offering less but better, healthier options or sharing the nutritional values and the origin of ingredients can also demonstrate genuine care.

But technology is the true enabler of a seamless and stress-free journey, and brilliant start-ups that digitize the food and shopping experience use gamification to make the process enjoyable while providing blockchain-based solutions that optimize the travel experience. Onboard connectivity also transforms the air travel experience from a closed and proprietary environment to an open and connected world and creates endless opportunities to generate ancillary revenues. There aren't many ancillaries that make passengers smile when the pay for them, and paying more for something you don't need rarely inspires happiness and is generally perceived as negative (baggage, seat selection, priority boarding). One way to create a more positive experience is through hyper-personalization (the ability to make recommendations based on the individual’s lifestyle), ensuring passengers are only approached by relevant, interesting offers

The question is: how can airlines and airports foster an omnichannel, aggregated ecosystem to align interest, with a happy passenger as the end result? I think that in today's industry landscape, we are very close to discovering just that.

Anne De Hauw is the founder of IN Air Travel Experience.

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