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South Korean passengers love tech – but not for their airline trip
Location: Seoul, South Korea
07 September 2016

Airline passengers in South Korea are less likely to use smartphones along their journey than passengers in other parts of the world - despite the fact that 98% carry a smartphone. These are the findings of the 2016 Passenger IT Trends Survey revealed today by travel technology provider SITA.

The survey, which was conducted across international airports in South Korea and representing 93% of South Korean travelers - shows that unlike the rest of the world, airline passengers here are not yet fully embracing self-service technology. On average less than half (48%) use self-service where it is available on the steps of their journey, compared to a global average of 55%.

But SITA indicates that change is coming. The desire and expectation to use self-service is expected to rise 22% over the coming year. When it comes to services on their mobile phone, passengers’ most popular demand is for bag update notifications with 73% saying they would definitely use them.

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “South Korea appears to be in the earlier stages of transformation for using technology for the airline and airport experience. More and more the industry can expect an increase in self-service usage. This will emerge as the younger generation looks to technology first; low cost carriers encourage the “do-it-yourself” travel experience; and increased availability of free Wi-Fi encourages mobile usage by the cost-conscious passenger. These are exciting times for the airline passenger experience in Korea.”

Each country is unique but SITA’s global research shows that passengers are happier when using technology along their journey. At the points of the journey that self-service is available, people exhibit positive emotions. Lower levels of self-service mirror a lower level of positive emotions. In Korea, 80% have positive emotions across the whole journey. Globally the average is 85% with some other Asian countries topping 90%.

Clearly all passengers are not the same and SITA has analyzed the behavior of four different types – Careful Planner, Pampered, Hyper-Connected and Open-Minded Adventurer. Each profile uses technology in different ways and SITA’s research shows that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach risks alienating some passengers.

In Korea, one fifth (21%) of those surveyed are “careful planners” who double check their travel documents and turn up at the airport early. These passengers are happy to use technology for planning and throughout the journey. Nevertheless, they like to carry printed documents and welcome interaction with airline agents to confirm everything is on track and going to plan.

 A further 18% of respondents here identified as Hyper-Connected compared to 14% worldwide. These passengers tend to use technology, such as mobile devices to book, check-in and manage their trip, more frequently than the other profiles. This indicates that airlines and airports in the Republic of Korea have the opportunity to encourage the use of technology to increase the level of customer satisfaction.

Gutlin added: “We see that passengers are connected and airlines and airports have the services. But what is needed now is a realization from everyone that self-service can be great service and technology can create happy passengers.”

To help illustrate the differences among travelers SITA has made it possible for people to find out their own passenger profile. Anyone can complete this short online form to find out what kind of traveler they are and compare their personal behavior to others from around the world.

This is the 11th edition of the SITA/ATW Passenger IT Trends Survey and the first time Korea was included. It was conducted with more than 9,000 passengers from 19 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa representing almost three-quarters of global passenger traffic.

* Visit travelerprofile.sita.aero to find out what kind of traveler you are.

* More details of the global results, including information on the emotional scale tool and the technology adoption model, are available here and a Korea fact sheet here.

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