Passengers say 'yes' to technology but mobile usage still low

Date: 2 October 2013
Location: Geneva, Switzerland


More than 90% of airline passengers say technology helps them when travelling but using a smartphone for travel services has yet to go main stream. This is despite the finding that three quarters of passengers carry a smartphone according to results of the 2013 SITA/Air Transport World Passenger IT Trends Survey released today.

The survey conducted at six leading airports around the world paints a picture of tech-savvy passengers who are equipped to use the latest mobile travel services but are cautious about doing so. At 76%, the proportion of passengers carrying smartphones outstrips the global average of 40% in the general population.

Even though passengers are carrying smartphones and say that they would use mobile services the majority has yet to make the transition. Despite the increase in recent years, actual rates of usage of these services, such as check-in and booking, remain below 5%. The majority of passengers - 78% - cite usability concerns and limitations of the device as a possible reason for not using mobile for travel.

Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA, said: "Technology has become an indispensible travel tool for the vast majority of today's passengers. Our survey this year has seen 90% of them say that technology has helped them when traveling. The opportunity for further improvements is here now - with smartphones in their hands passengers are equipped to use sophisticated mobile services.

"Passengers are ready but remain at the edge of really "going mobile". This year's survey has shown that the industry should indeed offer mobile services that make it easier to book travel and manage the entire journey. Improving usability and utilizing the unique capabilities of smartphones is the key to increase usage. Airlines and airports that recognize this, and provide passengers with easy-to-use mobile services that improve the travel experience, will enjoy higher adoption rates and passenger satisfaction."

In this year's survey, 69% of respondents booked their travel through a website and 20% used a kiosk for check-in on the day of travel. These figures are in line with the levels seen in last year's survey, suggesting the first wave of self-service technology is a firmly established part of the travel experience.

The next wave will be the widespread adoption of mobile services. To persuade people to change their travel habits these will need to deliver additional value over existing technology choices. Passengers have said that information services are what they want most on their mobiles - with 63% saying they would definitely use their mobile for flight search and 58% for flight status. This compares with 29% who would definitely want to receive promotions on their mobile and 37% who would buy tickets.

The unique capabilities of smartphone technology, such as localization and personalization, provide the ability to offer a seamless travel experience to passengers. Both airlines and airports have the opportunity to provide much more personalized and intuitive services - at the right time and stage of the journey.

These key findings are from the eighth annual SITA/ATW Passenger IT Trends Survey, carried out with a sample of the 299 million passengers who pass through six of the world's leading airport hubs: Abu Dhabi International; Beijing Capital International; Chhatrapati Shivaji International, Mumbai; Frankfurt International; GRU Sao Paulo International and Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta.

The survey included 2,489 passengers from more than 70 countries. Those surveyed comprised a mix of business and leisure travelers, and occasional and frequent flyers at all locations.

Find out more details of the results at the 2013 Passenger IT Trends Survey Webinar which will take place Thursday, 17 October. Register here.

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