An airport is much more than a runway. It’s about connections – and not just geographic ones. It’s also about connecting people to the airport environment. Airports strive to provide valuable and seamless experiences for every passenger. Before they even arrive at the airport, today’s travellers utilize websites that offer a wide range of services that improve their trip-planning and travel experiences. It is logical to extend that digital experience to improve the passengers’ time inside the airport as well.
Now that travel is returning, the aviation and travel sectors are reviewing their business objectives and investments to provide better passenger experiences and ensure adherence to new safety protocols. A study of the many new demands in the travel industry concluded that the aviation network needs to expand its view of customer journeys and design the next generation of enhanced travel service experience – putting self-service at the center of all interventions. To achieve this, airports can augment guided signage and in-person customer service representatives by expanding available kiosk services to meet the challenges of a changing market.
Address Growing Service Needs by Expanding the Airport Kiosk
Self-service is not new. Travelers began bypassing travel agents in the 1990s by booking their own trips. Gradually, online travel portals extended their services to include car rentals, excursions, and more. Adding extended services to interactive airport kiosks is a natural extension to this self-service trend and can help airports meet a wide range of accessibility and regulatory requirements.
In many airports, the kiosk is not new. But kiosks can go beyond check-in by expanding operations to help the passengers through all airport journeys, making the kiosk an omnichannel experience. It can support contactless interactions across the airport, for instance, and easily lead passengers to available services.
This digital transformation allows airports to continue offering a high level of service while reducing potential health risks by relying on less face-to-face interactions. The expanded and automated service kiosks can also optimize the manual customer service load. Self-service kiosks benefit passengers and airports alike. Passengers are given a high degree of flexibility in their airport experience, while the airport benefits from reduced demand for face-to-face service and rising revenue from increased use of airport services and shops.
Here are five specific ways expanded kiosks can drive the airport experience forward.
Seamless wayfinding: Navigation across the airport is much more varied with the development of digital communications. While signage and digital boards still play a vital role, kiosks can provide assistance with infused route indication, gate identification, searching for nearest restrooms, food, and retail services, etc. Along with the navigation, walk times to each desired location can be provided. This establishes an airport-wide connection and independent mobility insights to help passengers successfully navigate to any desired location in a timely manner.
Revenue generation models: Eating, drinking, shopping, and services are an integral part of the customer journey in an airport. The goal is to allow travellers to discover the impressive number of retail, food, and service offerings available on-site and manage their purchase time and behavior. Kiosks can improve the ability to navigate to specific services and be expanded to include pre-ordering and delivery to the gate, promotion offers to nudge duty-free shopping, visibility of airline-specific services, and more.
Accessibility powered by inclusivity: Improvements in the airport experience should include providing a smooth and enjoyable airport experience for all. Kiosks can offer a variety of accessibility services and facilities designed to enable more choice and the ability to pre-plan a passenger’s airport journey. The next generation kiosk services integrate inclusive design solutions to address disability needs by providing a reduced height toggle for wheelchair users and screen reading capabilities for the visually impaired. Video-call options can also include language assistance for speech-impaired individuals to communicate their needs using sign language.
Security and privacy: The omnichannel experience offers fluidity across the web, smartphone, and kiosk. A key feature of this seamless experience is to protect a passenger’s private information. QR codes can allow passengers to perform data entry and payment privately on their mobile.
Information Hub: The future airport passenger experience will be centered around an information hub that is focused on making trip preparation easier. It includes a transparent journey status with accessibility services and facilities during check-in, baggage drop, post-security service locations, map guides for gates, departure and boarding timings, etc. The information hub will include a personalized notification feature for flight.
In the US alone, system-wide travel (both domestic and global) touched more than 900 million passengers in 2019. Globally, the number of travellers reached 1.4 billion. As travel volume returns and continues to grow, it will become increasingly difficult to provide service for everyone. The good news is that today’s travellers are technically savvy and prefer self-serve options. This makes expanding available services on kiosks a logical and smart choice.
Kiosks are already in use in many airports and can be extended to provide enhanced passenger experiences. These kiosks can even use AI to guide passengers to airport shops or services that match the passenger’s preference profile – driving more revenue for the airport and giving the passengers a highly personalized airport experience.