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INDUSTRY OPINION >>

Is it time for airports and airlines to get personal?

Simon Pont, CEO of mobile points of sales creator ECR Retail Systems, looks at the relationship between airports, airlines and passengers.

Airlines and airports are facing increased pressure to drive revenue from passengers as they strive to grow. Airports and passenger terminals recognize that improvements require a physical transformation and change in the perception of what an airport provides – they are no longer concrete slabs, but are evolving into attractive destinations, offering excellent access to retail and entertainment. Beyond selling ‘bums on seats’, airlines accept that they need to focus on revenue opportunities through ancillary sales. What’s more, customer experience – across the board – has become a key differentiator.

At the heart of the challenge for both airlines and airports lies the customer journey – not simply their travel, but their entire purchasing journey from start to finish, from web research, ticket or hotel purchases, retail goods at the airport, food, and taxis or travel at the end of the journey, as well as the return trip. Tracking what customers want across this journey, ideally at a personal level, presents numerous opportunities.

All of this is made possible through access to data. More needs to be done to appropriately and securely integrate and share data between airlines and airports, so that personalized marketing and sales takes place. Do airlines, airports, retailers and restaurants have personal relationships? Are they co-marketing? Sharing data allows organizations to form a single, holistic view of customers across the entire customer lifecycle, which supports relevant marketing and sales.

As part of this wider customer journey, airlines need to consider whether their current payment experience and technologies are up to the task. Do they support loyalty programs, multiple currencies, vouchers, airline points, and more? Can inflight mobile point of sale (MPoS) systems support contactless payments? Do they reduce queue times? Does the airline’s overall payment strategy meet with customer expectations, and support back office requirements such as stock management?

Surprisingly, many airports and airlines have not yet introduced contactless payments, which will soon need to change due to VISA and MasterCard’s contactless mandate. This comes into effect at the end of 2019. Merchants accepting payments from these payment networks must establish contactless payments as a standard. PCI compliance remains essential, but streamlining this is critical.

Today, personalization and passenger experience is so important. Airports and airlines need to reconsider the value they are providing to customers and passengers and whether their broader customer marketing and payment propositions meet customers’ personalization expectations.

July 20, 2017

 

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