What's the most important differentiator between airports? | SITA

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What's the most important differentiator between airports?

Published on  26 May by Carlos Yoshihiro Kaduoka , Director of Strategy, Airport Solution Line, SITA
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According to the most recent Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards, what characteristic do the top 10 airports with more than 25 million passengers share? Incredibly every single one is in Asia. The ASQ Awards ranked the top five airports in every size category and Asia dominated throughout. China alone represented three of the top five highest-rated largest airports (40+ million passengers per year).

So how have the Asian airports done this well? The answer lies in their focus on delivering passenger satisfaction. The ASQ survey scores are based on actual passenger responses across 34 service areas including check-in, facilities and security. All airports use the same survey questions allowing them to benchmark themselves against other airport worldwide.

With this focus on passenger satisfaction, there is no surprise that the SITA 2014 Airport IT Trends Survey says that “Passenger processing projects remain the main focus of IT&T investment with 59% of airports rating it a high priority”. Much of this investment is being made self-service infrastructure that allows the passenger to take control of their own journey.

The ideal passenger experience

Airports must look to create an ideal passenger experience across all touch points, such as check-in and bag drop, security, border control, flight transfer and bag collection. Technology can help in all of these areas. For example mobile devices can offer way finding and tell passengers if queues are forming. Self-service applications can help reduce wait times and biometrics can help accelerate border queues. All of these work together in helping reduce passenger stress.

Anticipating and managing disruption

In addition to normal operations, airports also need to anticipate and manage disruption effectively in order to not damage the passenger experience. Nothing harms the airport experience more than passenger delays – particularly if there is no obvious cause and no clear solution. Look at the different responses to weather problems in different airports around London in the winter of 2013 to see the impact that has on passenger satisfaction.

Most passengers accept that some disruption is inevitable. The biggest complaint that they have about disruption is a lack of information about what has caused it and how long it will last. Airports have clear opportunity to differentiate themselves by delivering accurate real-time information to passengers on disruptions.

Improve operation through better collaboration

Delivering accurate information – and being able to take action on it – requires collaboration between different stakeholders, and real-time integration of systems and processes. For example, queuing times at security and border control can be reduced if airport stakeholders share information on passengers’ numbers and resourcing. And providing real-time information on queuing times to passengers can greatly reduce the stress of travel.

To help airports meet the challenge of delivering passenger satisfaction, the paper Passengers in focus looks at the challenges, opportunities and solutions in the area.

> Read the white paper

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