|What will airline passengers expect in the future?|
“Over the next three years, the industry will see a major transformation in the way passengers buy travel services and use self-service along their journey,” stated the report. “In addition, these journeys will take place in a fully mobile and social environment with airlines and airports intelligently using vast quantities of data to deliver real service and operational improvements.”
Okay, that’s probably not a massive surprise to many people in the aviation industry – or passengers for that matter – but I wanted to share the four major trends that are set to shape air travel over the next two or three years, according to SITA (a company that should have expert insight into the topic, as its marketed as ‘the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and IT solutions’).
The report is quite timely for me. You may have read in the media that Etihad Airways will make its ‘Big Switch’ to new, state-of-the-art, passenger sales, website, and check-in systems next week, the most significant milestone in its US$1 billion, ten-year, deal with Sabre Airline Solutions.
The Passenger Service System (PSS) transformation project is the most challenging IT and business-critical initiative that the Abu Dhabi-based airline has implemented in its history and will offer significant enhancements to the customer experience, especially in areas such as mobile and guest communications.
You can read more about that on the Etihad Airways website, but back to SITA! Based on the company’s most recent surveys of airlines, airports and passengers worldwide, the four major trends which will shape the future of global air travel are listed below (there’s a cool infographic at the end, so keep reading)!
- The way passengers buy travel will change. By 2015, both airlines and airports expect the web and the mobile phone to be the top two sales channels. Passengers are asking for a more personalised buying experience, and the industry is responding. For example, Alaska Airlines is one of several airlines with a travel app that alerts fliers to airfare deals from their hometowns and to cities where their friends live.
- Passengers will take more control. By 2015, 90% of airlines will offer mobile check-in—up from 50% today. Passengers will use 2D boarding passes or contactless technology such as Near Field Communications (NFC) on their phones, at different stages of their journey, such as at boarding gates, fast-track security zones and to access premium passenger lounges. Japan Airline’s Touch & Go Android is one example of an app, which will allow passengers to pass through boarding gates using their NFC-enabled phones. France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is piloting a similar service.
- Customer services will become more mobile and social. By 2015, nine out of ten airlines and airports will provide flight updates using smart phone apps. The industry is also exploring apps to improve the customer experience. At Japan’s Narita Airport, roaming service employees personalise the customer experience by using iPads to provide airport, flight and hotel information to passengers. In addition, Edinburgh Airport is one of several airports with apps that help passengers plan their journeys to and from the airport, track their flights, access terminal maps and reserve parking spots before they arrive.
- The passenger experience will improve thanks to better business intelligence. By 2015, more than 80% of airports and airlines will invest in business intelligence (BI) solutions. Most will focus on improving customer service and satisfaction, often through personalized services. For example, one European airline, Vueling, researches customers via social media in an effort to understand them better. It then integrates this information into their BI programmes to improve loyalty.
Here's what Nigel Pickford, Director Market Insight at SITA, had to say: “Information technology has already had a major influence on air travel. And with the number of global travelers expected to double by 2030, it will continue to lead the way for the industry."
He added: “Passenger needs and preferences are changing. Today’s passengers want more control throughout their journey. They expect transformation in both the kinds of services airlines and airports offer, and the way they communicate with them. At the same time, the industry is investing in business intelligence solutions and collaborating more to increase operational efficiency and improve customer service and loyalty.”
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