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Great idea, but show me the money!

Published on  14 November by Kevin Peterson , Senior Product Manager, SITA
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Airports are continually trying to improve the quality of customer service and with unlimited financial resources it is quite easy to do. Of course, here in the real world there are commercial constraints limiting how much airports can spend on making passengers smile as they make their way to the aircraft. There typically has to be a balance or trade-off.

However, occasionally something comes along that allows you to not only boost customer service, but to do it for nothing. That is because the investment pays for itself quickly, either through cost saving or revenue generation. Check-in kiosks have been a good example of such a win-win investment.

Cutting queues can make you money

From SITA's work with sensor technology at airports, we are finding that deploying passenger flow monitoring technology throughout the terminals is also proving to be a 'win-win' investment.

The initial focus has been to reduce frustration and stress for passengers when faced with queues by using technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and video analytics, to provide accurate wait times.

Today, over 50% of travelers carry a Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi device that can be used anonymously to monitor passenger movements. This gives us enough data for reliable and consistent 'live' information on traffic flows and queues in and around airports.

There are around 30 airports using these sophisticated queue measurement systems. At one airport in North America, where SITA installed a predictive wait-time system to collect information on the flow of passengers, the wait times are posted on flight information screens landside, which reduces the anxiety levels for passengers.

What the industry has learned is that an extra 10 minutes in security lines reduces an average passenger's retail spend by 30%. This means that congestion in the departure hall and those long lines leading to the security checkpoint are hitting top line growth at airports.

... and even more money

Not only that. By not having a good picture of how passengers spend their time within your airport you can miss out on - or at least not maximize - commercial opportunities.

For instance, at one major airport in the Asia-Pacific region, where we installed our FlowAnalyzer product, it was found that there were more than enough passengers around in the early morning to justify moving the opening time of the coffee shop from 05:30 am to 03:30 am, adding two extra hours for revenue generation.

Some airports are already starting to use passenger flow analysis to offer location-based services, which will result in lucrative new revenue streams for airports.

For more info on passenger flow monitoring checkout our video.

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