Airports provide operational flight information through a number of different methods. The most obvious source is the traditional Flight Information Display System (FIDS), but legacy platforms like SMS and email, and now in the digital age, airport apps and social media, have also established themselves as key tools.
TIC is very much an advocate of multiple channels. After all, every passenger is different, and has his or her preferred method of communication. That said, airports with a variety of different platforms must take several things into consideration.
The problem with legacy systems like email is that they don’t suit the modern, well-connected traveller. International travellers in particular will turn on their devices and receive countless emails. The last thing they want is an additional 5 or 6 messages regarding their flight.
SMS undoubtedly suits the masses, especially as 97% of passengers travel with a mobile device. In fact, one in five passengers travel with three! However, each SMS cost money, so the airport must consider the number of messages they send – potentially limiting their reach. SMS also offers little to no personal information about their passengers. Meaning communication is generic and impersonal.
We know that mobile devices has similar penetration as SMS. App however hold a wealth of data, which can be ultilsed to create personal engagements. One drawback of the App is its barrier to entry, as firstly the passenger must download the app and passengers are unlikely to download apps for every airport they visit. Typically, passengers choose to download the app for their local airport, unless they regularly travel through many of the same hubs.
Several airports provide operational messages via Twitter. Twitter is a promising method of communication because smartphones have Twitter client software pre-loaded, which means that there is no need to download anything. As a rough guide, and depending on your location, approximately 20% of your passengers will be active on Twitter. Typically, airports have embraced two methods of communication on Twitter: First, the airport will broadcast all operational messages through a Twitter account and second, the airport will send operational messages via Direct Messages (DM) to the passenger.
Method 1: Simply put, broadcasting operational messages through a Twitter account is a waste of time. The Tweet is a broadcast that would only get lost in the user’s Twitter stream. Potentially, the volume of updates could make it extremely difficult to find your flight, particularly on a mobile device.
Method 2: Encourage passengers to follow the airport’s Twitter account to receive the message. This was introduced back in the days when corporations were chasing as many followers as possible. Thinking of their social following above all else, corporations decided that forcing passengers to follow their account by only sending messages via DM was the best solution. People will follow an account if they wish and if an airport’s primary focus in attracting 50,000 followers overnight, then so be it. However, if you want to offer passengers a valued service, remove the barrier to entry and stop making it a requirement that they follow the account. In other words, let that happen naturally! Upon doing so, you enhance the branding of the airport by letting people see that you are providing great customer service and an open communication channel.
When used correctly, Twitter can be an asset for both airports and passengers. It is great for real-time communication! After all, let’s face it—any breaking news story will appear on Twitter before any other platform. The content is short, at less than 140 characters, so it doesn’t eat up passengers’ roaming data. And if the airport has free WiFi, Twitter will be even more accessible! Furthermore, when you are sending open communications, the airport brands will benefit from the Twitter “impressions”. What is really powerful about, however, Twitter are the big data and the analytics… Using big data means that the content can be very personalised—and let’s face it, not everyone on the same flight speaks the same language. Why should an international airport only speak to passengers in a single language?
Unlike SMS, this method of communication doesn’t cost a certain amount for each message. This means that the airport can focus on enhancing the passenger experience, as an example providing all passengers with specific guides for their destination whilst sitting at the gate.
Most airports have turned to surveys and other means of gathering feedback. A popular method is having a “station” where passengers can press a button to give feedback. Complementing these stations with online channels help target passengers at specific locations and times, and on specific flights, for feedback.
More and more airports are looking for non-aeronautical revenue. However, to be effective, this revenue must be relevant to each individual passenger. Using data, the passenger can receive exclusive offers tailored specifically to them, and sent at the most convenient and effective times.
BizTweet, our proprietary software, allows you to control the content and timing of the tweet, so whether you which to send passengers destination guides or generate non-aeronautical revenue or much more then BizTweet is the answer.
The analytics from the Big Data are extremely insightful in terms of determining which languages your passengers speak and who your most frequent travellers are, not to mention identifying the most socially influential passenger who has passed through your airport on any given day. With these insights, would you consider communicating with your passengers in a different manner?