The Airports Council International concluded last week their customer experience summit in Krakow, Poland. ‘Rehumanising the Airport Experience’ was the theme of the global conference. The ACI Customer Experience Global Summit is the premier global event on airport experience with more than 400 senior airport executives, civil aviation authority representatives, airport specialists, and related business executives in attendance.
Luis Felipe de Oliveira, the director general, ACI World, spoke on the interconnectedness of customer experience, how the pandemic has affected consumer behaviour, as well as the importance of effective management tools.
He said: “While the pandemic has had the effect of accelerating the digitalisation and implementation of touchless processes within airports, great customer and employee experience depends on the human factor.
“Evolving customer experience excellence is the outcome of the work of many different stakeholders and technologies deployed within the airport complex.” (https://airport-world.com/
aci-customer-experience- global-summit-begins-in-krakow ).
Memories of the summit in Bali, Indonesia in 2019 call up a wealth of knowledge acquired from both the conference and the interactions that took place. No doubt the attendees from Africa would have had an enriching experience at the summit.
As customer experience week approaches in October, “Rehumanising the airport experience” is a timely topic for the global summit. Also, in Nigeria, the Lagos Airport will be hosting the Airport Business Summit this week with a special workshop on customer experience management. The travel industry summit and awards of Business A.M. will focus on the future of travel.
With Covid-19, there has been an exponential increase in the use of technology. People have had to rely more on technology beyond the millennials and Gen Z that may be considered digital natives. So, customer behaviours are no longer the same, post-Covid-19. There is a recent research which has classified passenger personas into ‘Covid Era Travellers’ and ‘Post Covid Era Travellers’ and pointing to the fact that not only are customers no longer the same, their behaviours are also no longer the same.
As airport terminals return to their busy schedules along with concessionaires and other airport services, there is an opportunity for African airports to rethink how they do business to generate additional revenues. The way concessions work may require a rethink.
There may be a need to rethink processes to accommodate deployments of technology as well as address accessibility issues. “Up to 15% of the world’s population has a disability. Airports need to be ready for the increase of elderly passengers with reduced mobility and travellers with visible and non-visible disabilities,” noted de Oliveira. He also said: “As such, ACI and our industry partners are making accessibility a priority in different ways from advocacy to guidance.”
Consistency and predictability usually go down well with customers. This provides an opportunity for analytics to personalise the experience of customers. Pent-up demand from passengers will need to be discovered as travel resumes with the “revenge travel” also taking place. So, airports need to research more deeply the data they already have to discover new services.
An ACI 2016 publication, “Does passenger satisfaction increase airport non-aeronautical revenue? A comprehensive assessment”, in analysing the influence of customer service quality on non-aeronautical revenue at airports stated: “The analysis found that an increase of 1% in the global passenger satisfaction mean generates an average growth of 1.5% in non-aeronautical revenue, significantly out-performing the impact of commensurate increases in both retail space and passenger traffic.”
So, happy people generate more revenue for airports and all her business partners. As the airports come to life, everyone in the airport must be on the same page on what the airport has in mind to meet customer expectations now and in the future.
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