According to the recent 2016 Concessions Benchmarking Survey from Airports Council International – North America, just over 60% of North American airports have a dedicated website—a number that seems surprisingly low in this day and age. What’s even lower, however, is the percentage of North American airports with a mobile app—less than 30%!
The reality is, most airports need both. A web presence is table stakes for any large organization today. Websites are a great way to get basic airport information out there to passengers and the local community. But keep in mind, the average American adult spent 2 hours and 25 minutes per day in mobile apps in 2016—versus less than half an hour browsing the mobile web (eMarketer).
By taking advantage of built-in smartphone technologies that a website simply can’t leverage, an airport mobile app can do a lot to improve the passenger experience at your airport. It can also help boost non-aeronautical revenue, which comprises roughly 46% of total operating revenue at U.S. airports, according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data from 2017. Let’s look at five ways a mobile app can help drive this revenue while improving the in-terminal experience for passengers.
What keeps passengers from spending money at your airport? Airports are challenging environments that can be frustrating and stressful. With an app, you can automatically send push notifications to passengers, informing them of gate changes or the shortest security line—reducing stress, saving time and keeping traffic flow smooth throughout the terminal. Passengers who aren’t stressed or rushed can then turn their attention to airport shops, restaurants and services.
Navigating by smartphone has become a mainstream experience. Why wouldn’t you provide an app that enables turn-by-turn navigation through your airport? Navigation offers another way to streamline the passenger experience, but it also helps passengers uncover compelling, satisfying interactions with your airport brand. Your app could help passengers find open parking, discover a great restaurant, locate an electronics store or identify the perfect place for a quick manicure.
We all window-shop airport stores as we walk through the terminal. What if you received a personalized coupon code on your phone, right when you approached the bookstore? What if you got a heads up about a meal deal at the closest café, just before you arrived at your gate? With technologies like beacons, your shops, stores, restaurants and other vendors can pay you to promote their businesses. More store sales + additional promotional fees = more revenue for your airport.
Thanks to the targeted audience segments that come through your airport (think business travelers, vacationing families, etc.), in-app advertising can also add to your non-aeronautical revenue. Many brands would salivate at the ability to reach such a clear, targeted audience—and would be happy to purchase some of your app’s real estate for advertising. You’d be paid for selling in-app ad space just as you’d be paid for selling space on billboards or digital signage.
As your app users travel through your airport—and everywhere they go in their daily lives—they carry their smartphones or tablets with them. This generates a daily digital trail that can tell you a lot about what they do, when, why and how.
You can use this information to continually test and refine your non-aeronautical revenue strategies, understand traffic flow in the airport better, streamline security lines and much more. This kind of contextual mobile data isn’t available to you without a mobile app and, in the long run, it can make your strategies smarter and help make operations run smoother. And that means more revenue throughout the terminal.
When passengers feel good about an airport they frequent—and when they feel that airport is cutting-edge, well-run, and invested in passengers’ well-being—that builds and sustains a strong brand. It helps attract conventions and other business travel. It increases loyalty among heavy travelers. And it makes your airport a place people want to spend their time and money, not just a place to pass through on their way to another destination.
At WBA, we have deep experience building and optimizing airport apps throughout the app lifecycle. Our flexible mobile platform offers a wide range of advanced features you can use to enhance the passenger experience and drive non-aeronautical revenue at the same time. Intrigued? Learn more about our aviation solutions or contact a mobile specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.