In today’s hyperconnected world, industries across the board are tapping into the transformative power of technology. The aviation industry is no exception, yet there remains a glaring anomaly. 

Despite the proliferation of mobile apps, only a scant 7% of travelers use an airport app. What lies behind this disconnect, and what might the future of airport digital engagement look like?

The Enigma of the 7%

To understand this startling figure, we must first delve deep into the factors responsible for the minimal adoption of airport apps:

  • The Engagement Timing Dilemma: By and large, passengers initiate their interaction with the airport at a point where the journey is about to commence. This late engagement diminishes the window for digital influence. Before this point, interactions largely revolve around airlines and travel platforms, leaving airports out of the equation.
  • The Local Traveler Bias: Local and frequent fliers are the primary beneficiaries of these apps. For them, downloading and engaging with the app is a valuable proposition. In contrast, a vast majority of travelers resort to ad hoc internet searches or navigate the airport website, opting against the perceived inconvenience of an additional app download.
  • The Personalization Gap: While airport apps present structured data, they often fall short in delivering a personalized user journey. The absence of bespoke itineraries, offers, or information tailored to an individual traveler’s needs severely impacts the user experience and overall app retention.

It’s intriguing to consider that in an age marked by a global surge in app adoption, airports have channeled significant capital into app development. Still, without robust promotional channels and tangible user value, the investment yield remains subdued.

Photo by Rob Wilson

Repercussions for the Airport Ecosystem

The implications of low app adoption are multifaceted and resonate deeply within the airport ecosystem:

  • Opportunity Cost: The failure to engage passengers prior to their airport arrival signifies lost revenue opportunities, especially for lucrative services like parking, lounges, and fast-track security.
  • Compromised Service Delivery: Once the traveler steps into the airport, the chance to offer real-time updates, guidance, or a hyper-personalized experience is greatly reduced, detracting from the overall service quality and passenger satisfaction.

Envisioning a New Era of Digital Engagement

If traditional mobile apps aren’t the panacea to the airport’s digital woes, what could be the way forward?

1. Expanding Reach Through Strategic Alliances:

To tap into the elusive 93% who remain disengaged, collaborations with airlines, retail providers, and travel platforms are paramount. These entities can actively promote the airport’s digital offerings, channelling their expansive user base towards increased airport engagement.

2. Prioritizing User Accessibility:

The era of app saturation has instilled a sense of app fatigue among users. To circumvent this, a digital platform accessible via the web, sans the need for downloads, can prove invaluable.

3. Pioneering Personalization:

The future of digital engagement hinges on personalization. Platforms must be designed to offer curated experiences, taking into account individual travel details, personal preferences, and specific travel circumstances.

4. Savvy Monetization Strategies:

Once users are onboarded and engaged, monetization avenues multiply. Dynamic, contextually relevant promotions, both from the airport and affiliated third parties, can be introduced to enhance revenue streams. The key lies in offering timely and tailored promotions at pivotal points in the traveler’s journey, ensuring relevance and maximizing engagement.

Airsiders’ Revolutionary Approach with the Airport Webapp

This vision isn’t confined to the realms of ideation. Airsiders’ groundbreaking Airport Webapp offers a tangible glimpse into the future of airport digital engagement.

Here’s how it’s revolutionizing the landscape:

  • A User-Centric Interface: Passengers can seamlessly input their itineraries and personalize their travel details.
  • Immersive Visual Experience: A visually arresting interactive map offers a step-by-step preview of the journey, making trip planning intuitive and enjoyable.
  • Dynamically Curated Promotions: With sophisticated algorithms at play, users are presented with promotions that align with their preferences and journey stages, optimizing conversion rates.
  • Real-time Wallet Pass Feature: This innovation ensures users stay updated in real time, cementing the platform’s utility quotient.

The plug-and-play nature of the WebApp allows seamless integration into diverse channels – from airport websites to interactive monitors. The cherry on the cake? As a web-based solution, it’s primed for easy integration with travel platforms and websites, amplifying its reach.

The Flight Path Ahead

In the grand tapestry of the aviation industry, digital transformation remains an ongoing journey. The onus lies on airports to keep pace, continuously innovate, and offer enhanced user experiences. The pivot from traditional app models to more expansive, web-based platforms signifies a step in the right direction.

As airports globally seek to redefine passenger experiences, the collaborative synergy between airports and entities like Airsiders presents a promising horizon. With tailored solutions like the Airport Webapp leading the charge, the future of airport digital engagement seems not only bright but boundless.

For those at the crossroads, pondering their next digital strategy move, the answer might just lie in broadening horizons and embracing this new era of engagement.

If this paradigm shift resonates with your vision, it’s time to join the journey. Engage with us to explore the possibilities.

The Power of E-Commerce Personalisation for Airports

In today’s rapidly changing aviation landscape, non-aero revenue has emerged as a linchpin for airport growth and sustainable business operations. As more passengers tread the airport concourses, the race to engage, entice, and convert them into customers has intensified. Interestingly, the heart of this evolution lies not just in introducing new services but in personalising the digital experience.

The Rise of Non-Aero Revenue Streams

It’s no longer just about operational performance and airline partnerships. 

Non-Aero revenue streams have grown in importance for airports, as airlines heavily try to bargain on aero fees to be paid to the airport

Airports are now looking beyond the horizon, venturing into direct e-commerce offerings to enhance passenger experience and simultaneously boost revenue. Some notable additions to their arsenal include:

  • Duty-Free Shopping: Transforming wait times into shopping adventures.
  • Order Ahead Food Services: No more waiting in line for your favourite meal.
  • Parking Reservations: Ensuring a seamless start to the journey.
  • Fast-Track Options: Bypassing the crowds, offering passengers the luxury of time.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg. As technology evolves, so does the array of services that airports can offer.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room

However, introducing services is just half the battle won. The bigger challenge? Ensuring passengers know about, and more importantly, avail these offerings. Two core issues plague airports:

  • Limited User Engagement: According to a study by TNMT / LIH research, only 7% of passengers regularly engage with airport apps or websites. This low number directly translates to missed opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All: A passenger arriving from a long haul flight might be looking for a quick bite. In contrast, a business traveller may find value in a fast-track service. A parking reservation for a transit passenger is irrelevant.

The Age of Personalisation

The key to effective e-commerce lies in personalisation. For airports, this means:

  • Addressing Pain Points: By identifying the needs of different passenger types, airports can attract them with tailored, relevant information.
  • Broad-based Platform Accessibility: A web-based platform ensures broader accessibility, especially when it can be linked from airlines and other travel platforms. This not only promotes the airport’s services but also enhances the overall travel experience.
  • Journey-based Personalisation: Offers should be dynamic, changing based on the passenger’s journey timeline and type.

Airports have seen substantial growth in non-aeronautical revenues in recent years, rising from 33% in 2010 to over 40% today according to ACI statistics. As airports look to further diversify revenue streams, many have turned to offering new digital products and services directly to passengers. However, the challenge remains in effectively marketing these e-commerce offerings amidst low digital engagement rates.

Personalizing the passenger experience through an integrated travel planning platform provides a solution for airports to maximize the success of their online businesses.

Current digital touchpoints like mobile apps struggle to reach more than 7% of passengers on average according to surveys by Amadeus and SITA. Even for those interacted with, offers are often irrelevant as they lack personalization. For example, an arriving traveler has no interest in fast-track security while a connection passenger wouldn’t benefit from parking deals. 

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa

Personalization presents a key opportunity for useful wayfinding, trip planning features that reinforce the airport brand across all phases of travel.

Some airports have already had some wins with personalisation.

In Canada, Vancouver International Airport has implemented such an approach through their “YVR Experience” travel assistant. Passengers enter trip details upfront and receive a customized journey overview mapping terminal walking routes, popular amenities, and promotions matched to their itinerary. This level of digital concierge service helps relieve stress and encourage spending.

Taking the concept further, a shared travel planning platform could power e-commerce at any airport globally. The proposed “Airport Web App” would allow passengers to input flight reservations from any carrier. It then previews their end-to-end airport experience, integrating real-time flight updates and highlighting recommended offers inserted directly into the itinerary page. Notifications are also pushed through the app’s digital wallet for those who download it.

Airports maintain full control over which passenger segments receive each promotion. For example, short connection travelers may see food/retail but skipped over parking ads. Demographic and purchase history data could also refine targeting over time. Most importantly, the app supports airport branding while any airline or OTAs can seamlessly integrate the tool into their own channels as a value-added service.

Since launches, Incheon Airport and Singapore Changi Airport have credited passenger-centric technologies including personalization with over 10% year-over-year increases in non-ticket sales.

Enter the Airport WebApp, a revolutionary solution designed to bridge these very gaps.

Airport WebApp: Revolutionising the Travel Experience

So, how does the WebApp transform the e-commerce experience for passengers?

Intuitive Itinerary Selection: Passengers start by choosing their flight itinerary. Simple, right?

Journey Preview: No more ambiguity. Passengers can visualise their entire airport journey, ensuring they’re always a step ahead.

Personalised E-commerce Recommendations: Here’s where the magic happens. The WebApp curates and promotes offers that resonate with the passenger’s profile and journey type. Whether it’s on the itinerary page, integrated within the map, or via real-time wallet notifications (for those who opt for downloads), passengers receive timely, relevant promotions.

Flexibility for Airports: 

Airports aren’t bound by rigidity. They can decide which offers to push for different passenger segments. Tailoring offers not only boosts sales but significantly enhances the passenger experience.

Collaborative Approach: 

Recognising that the tool is beneficial for all travellers, the WebApp is designed to be promoted by airlines and other travel platforms post-booking, further enriching the digital experience for passengers.

In essence, the Airport WebApp is not just another digital tool; it’s a strategic asset, enhancing the journey for passengers while simultaneously creating lucrative revenue opportunities for airports.

Photo by Kevin Schmid

Which other airports have successfully made the jump into e-commerce personalization?

These airport examples have successfully leveraged e-commerce personalization strategies:

  • Incheon Airport (ICN): Their “My Airport” platform allows travellers to save flight/passenger details to receive tailored shopping/dining recommendations at each terminal based on departure times. Profiles are also used to promote nearby Seoul attractions. This boosted concessions 3-5% yearly.
  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS): By linking frequent flyer data from KLM and EasyJet, Schiphol can remarket to loyal flyers visiting their home airport. Past purchases influence targeted digital ads for related products. First-party data sharing has increased retail repeat sales 10%.
  • Dubai International (DXB): Emirates worked with Dubai Airport to build rich profiles from passenger bookings. These power personalized push notifications on flight delays and shopping deals within connected store maps. Families get family-friendly offers, increasing non-flight bookings 15%.
  • Munich Airport (MUC): Their “plan-your-trip” site uses cookie data to present relevant parking, dining and lounge access deals to frequent corporate travelers from major carriers like Lufthansa. Upselling airport experiences increased associated revenues 7% annually.
  • Hong Kong International (HKG): By linking their frequent flyer app to on-site beacons, HKG delivers geo-targeted offers to users as they move between terminals. Partnering airlines provide better targeted communications and crossover loyalty programs.

The bottom line

As the lines between aviation and e-commerce blur, airports stand at a pivotal juncture. The choice is clear: to evolve, personalise, and grow or remain static and watch opportunities fly by.

The Airport WebApp, with its intuitive design and focus on personalisation, is a beacon for the future—a testament to how technology can transform challenges into opportunities.

Interested in learning more? At Airsiders, we deliver a positive impact on the travel experience for airport passengers. Reach out and discover the world of possibilities with Airport WebApps.

Learn how Airsiders‘ innovative airport wallet pass technology revolutionizes the passenger journey on airport websites. Discover how this plugin enables real-time flight tracking and updates without the need for app downloads, providing a seamless and convenient experience.

The challenge with airport websites

Passengers rely heavily on airport websites and apps to access flight information, making the online FIDS page the most visited section. However, many airports face the issue of low app adoption among non-local passengers.

Since it is currently not possible to send users push notifications from the browser, this leads to repetitive website refreshing and inconvenience for passengers in accessing the latest updates about their flights.

The solution: Airport Wallet Passes

Airsiders airport wallet pass

With Airsiders’ airport wallet pass, passengers can effortlessly track their flight status directly in their browser and receive real-time updates without the need for app downloads. Here’s how it works:

1. Flight selection: Passengers visit the flights page on the airport website and locate their flight.

2. Add pass: By clicking the “Add to Wallet” button next to their flight, passengers instantly receive an airport-branded mobile wallet pass tailored to their mobile device (iOS or Android).

3. Push notifications: Whenever there’s a new announcement from the AODB (Airport Operational Database), passengers receive push notifications directly on their home screen, even without an app download.

One pass, multiple use cases

Apart from real-time flight updates, the airport wallet pass plugin offers additional features and benefits:

  • Seamless redirection: Clicking on a notification takes passengers back to the airport website or the webapp provided by Airsiders, ensuring a seamless browsing experience.

  • Traffic status information: Airports can provide relevant information on traffic conditions to passengers before they depart from home, enhancing their journey planning.

  • Personalized marketing notifications: With passengers opting in by saving the pass, airports can send targeted marketing notifications, including personalized retail and parking offers, promoting a tailored and engaging experience.

Jam-packed with benefits loved by airport marketing teams

The airport wallet pass plugin brings several advantages for airports and passengers alike:

  • App-free updates: Passengers can receive timely flight updates without the need to download an app, improving accessibility and convenience.

  • Enhanced passenger engagement: By delivering push notifications directly to users’ home screens, airports can engage passengers effectively and ensure they remain informed throughout their journey.

  • Accessible airport information: The plugin makes airport information readily available, enabling passengers to stay up-to-date without constantly refreshing the website.

  • Browser-based reach: The wallet pass plugin empowers airports to reach passengers directly in their browsers, eliminating the barrier of app adoption.

  • Targeted promotions: Airports can deliver personalized retail and parking offers to passengers who have opted in, enhancing customer satisfaction and generating revenue opportunities.

Get started with Airsiders

Discover the power of the airport wallet pass plugin by Airsiders, empowering airports to provide seamless flight tracking, real-time updates, and personalized engagement for passengers. Experience the benefits of easy integration, improved accessibility, and enhanced passenger satisfaction. Contact us today to explore additional use cases and unlock the full potential of your airport’s digital transformation.

Implementing the airport wallet pass plugin is a breeze for airport marketing and digital teams. Airsiders, a Berlin-based travel technology company backed by Beumer Group, a global leader in airport systems, provides scalable and end-to-end solutions for airports to innovate and digitize the entire airport journey.

For the past few years, the air transport industry has been left reeling from the economic, societal and structural effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, airport managers are thinking beyond the pandemic to a brighter future – one where innovative technologies will take the industry to a new level.

A fully-fledged, future-proof recovery is on the horizon. But how exactly will airports go from doom to boom, maximising their potential to deliver a sustainable, efficient airport of the future? In this article, we look at six main trends that will mark the future of airport management.

Future of airport management: 6 main trends

Health and wellness will restore confidence

Restoring passenger confidence post-Covid will be pivotal. In order for the aviation industry to recover and move forward, travellers will need to feel safe. And, while the easing of the effects of the pandemic will be the main driver of this renewed confidence, there are a whole host of innovative technologies airports can implement.

It all starts with a breath of fresh air. IoT systems can have a profound effect on indoor air quality, with smart sensors that can measure and adapt ventilation and filtration based on occupancy levels. This will be key for airports in the long run, as will state-of-the-art analytics software. This kind of technology could also be used for more efficient cleaning and reporting within the airports, with integrated janitorial software enabling staff to report sanitation of common areas and facilities in real time.   

In the future, touchless technology will be the standard for every airport in the world. While the likes of paperless boarding passes are already well-established, soon every step of the airport journey will be touchless – from the kind of biometric facial recognition technology that’s already used at the likes of Gatwick Airport to touchless payments at every concession stand. An entirely touchless airport experience, from check-in to boarding gate, would have a huge impact on airport hygiene and, ultimately, traveller health.

Speaking of health, an often underlooked area is fatigue and quality of rest. Instead of sleeping on the issue, many airports are thinking ahead and, with the help of innovative Finnish napsters GoSleep, sleep/nap pods in airports are now a reality, with Helsinki, Heathrow, Dubai and Munich already helping their passengers catch some much-needed rest. By 2030, sleep pods will be a common sight in airports all over the world. 

Innovative new platforms will rise to the fore

The key behind the digitalisation of airports will be customer experience, as airports implement cutting-edge ‘as-a-service’ platforms to better understand and meet the needs and expectations of their passengers. With more access to real-time data, airports can have greater control over their services, products and revenue streams, providing customers with a personalised, seamless travel experience, while building a flexible infrastructure that connects everyone in the travel chain. 

Virtual interlining platforms, such as the one developed by Airsiders, also make it possible to generate new revenue streams. An increase in connections and flight routes brings extra landing revenue, along with a rise in passenger traffic. This, with the fact that fewer connections will be disrupted, means more downtime for passengers – which, in turn, means more retail revenue.  

Meanwhile, for the passenger, the ‘made-to-measure’ aspect of the travel experience will be like nothing they’ve ever experienced. Airports could see a blend of the nostalgic simplicity of the 50s and 60s, with the state of the art precision and innovation of the 21st century. With the help of the technology offered by emerging ‘as-a-service’ platforms, profitability, efficiency and customer loyalty will flourish.  

“There is no substitute for innovation. Original, revolutionary ideas will always rise to the top.”

– Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group 

The future of airport management will be green

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a 7% drop in global CO2 emissions. This is an unprecedented drop in pollution for modern times. An unforeseen consequence of lockdown measures, this dramatic decrease has given the aviation industry a wake-up call. 

The future of aviation must be green. Airport management, and the wider aviation industry in general, must address the environmental impact of air travel. This can be achieved by developing deep learning models to identify and predict the pollution of certain flight routes.

Norwegian’s fuel management software SkyBreathe, for example, uses big data algorithms to analyse flight operations and reduce fuel consumption. And, while some have concerns about the carbon emissions of deep learning itself, AI will become more energy-efficient while having a major influence on the push for a more sustainable future.

It’s not just in the air where sustainability matters to the aviation industry – back on the ground, carbon neutrality remains the goal for airports too. In 2020, Sweden’s main airport operator became the first in the world to achieve carbon neutrality – across 10 different airports. Over the next decade, airports across the globe will compete to reach this standard. 

Because, while health and hygiene have understandably come to the fore of public consciousness in recent years, sustainability in aviation will once again become a major talking point. For airports catching up with Sweden, switching to renewable heating and going fossil-free is the first step. Denmark is already on board, pledging to make all domestic flights fossil-free by 2030.

The age of automation will bring unparalleled efficiency

Automation will play a big role in shaping the future airport experience. The end goal for airport managers is to create a seamless journey for their customers while implementing systems and technologies that allow for optimal efficiency.

This means automated systems such as facial recognition or iris capture, both of which are replacing fingerprinting at Singapore Airport. Paper boarding passes will, of course, be a thing of the past. But its recent replacement – the smartphone QR code boarding pass – will also soon become redundant, as airports make the shift towards biometric technology, giving passengers a hands-free, walkthrough experience. And, potentially, an end to stressing about forgetting your passport!

All of this points towards a far more fluid system, with shorter queues, less waiting around and far more passenger downtime. There are, of course, privacy concerns – understandably so. Airports will have to work with tech providers and governments to find the best solution while always keeping the passenger at the centre of the story. 

As passenger levels return to pre-pandemic rates, airport managers will need to integrate technology and automation to support a workforce that has seen a 60% reduction. Seoul’s Incheon, via its Smart Airport Team, is thinking ahead by using robotic temperature checkers and kiosks, while also prioritising operational efficiency. They’re also developing a big data platform to help optimise airport operations and plan to establish an AI-driven air traffic control (ATC) platform that will “bring a brand new way of working to ATC officers.” 

Meanwhile, in the UK, British Airways is trialling robot guides at Heathrow Terminal 5. The polyglot bots – they can interact with passengers in five different languages – are designed to answer thousands of questions, including real-time flight queries. They even can move around the airport.  

Breakthroughs in baggage handling will take the weight off 

The future of baggage handling could be very different to the current model. Already, companies like AirPortr are breaking the mould, with methods that take a lot of weight off the shoulders of travellers – quite literally.

A London-based luggage technology company, AirPortr, provides passengers with a secure baggage collection and check-in service. The company’s CEO and founder, Randel Darby, predicts that in the same way that most aspects of passenger processing will be done ‘off-airport’, via biometrics etc., so too will luggage check-ins. He envisages passenger-only terminals, where baggage is self-handled as and when, then “collected from home and processed at an Amazon-style fulfilment centre”, before being loaded onto your flight.  

AI X-rays are also being developed by SoftonNet, LG CNS and IIACC. By embedding state-of-the-art AI technology into the X-ray algorithm, the burden of security and detection officers is significantly reduced. Security is enhanced too, thanks to the increased rate of detection of prohibited items.

Meanwhile, in the US, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is investing in AI-based baggage screening equipment for both check-in and carry-on bags. Through self-learning algorithms, the machines can identify any bags that might pose a security risk, deliver them to a TSA agent to check, then return them to the aircraft or the passengers. The technology was implemented at Laguardia’s new terminal last year and will be in place in several other airports by 2025.

Finally, for self-connecting travellers, ‘virtual interlining’ will provide a breakthrough when it comes to baggage through-checks. Airsiders is a pioneer in this area. We partner with BEUMER Group, a global leader in baggage handling systems to make automated luggage through-checks simple – even when an interline or alliance agreement doesn’t exist between airlines.

Airport revenue will increase through creative sales and marketing

Since the beginning of the pandemic, European airports have suffered an estimated $73 billion worth of losses. In order for airport managers to recoup these losses and work towards exponential revenue growth, they will need to look towards ever more innovative marketing methods.

AI and machine learning are technologies at the forefront of this innovation. Predictive analysis of passenger behavioural patterns, whether visiting retail stores, VIP lounges, restaurants, or other spaces within the airport, can help to create a personalised airport experience. Meanwhile, airports will increasingly look to the creative use of space for advertising potential, with giant digital video screens and lightbox static ads just part of the interior transformation to come. This ad potential could be showcased via VR tours – just as Sidney Airport did recently, which led to an immediate increase in retail and ad revenue. 

Of course, it’s not about bombarding customers with messages. To be successful, airports will balance subtle customer marketing with creative features – look to Singapore’s jaw-dropping indoor waterfall for an idea of how future terminals will captivate their customers.

Still, in order to enchant them with advertising and eye-catching features, airports must keep the customers coming. The above methods can be utilised to increase airport revenue by attracting more airlines and new routes, using dynamic MCTs and virtual interlining solutions. Encouraging passengers to purchase services before they arrive at the airport will also raise appeal and help airports develop into an ideal layover hub.

New tech & innovation will mark the future of airport management 

All this points to the future of airport management consisting of far more interconnected digital infrastructure that brings efficiency, fluidity, flexibility and sustainability.

Yet, all these groundbreaking technologies – from deep learning and IoT to big data analysis and robotics – will always be in service to one central concept.

The passenger.

With the passenger’s experience at the centre of the drive for innovation, airports can be the launchpads for a new golden age of travel.

Despite the huge impact of the pandemic and the restrictions that ensued, there are plenty of reasons for optimism when it comes to the future of the airline industry.

Driven by new technologies that focus on safety, sustainability, efficiency and a smoother travel experience, let’s take a look at the emerging trends set to transform the airline industry in 2022 and beyond. 

Top 8 Airline Trends for 2022

The biometric boom

According to IATA’s passenger survey, 73% of passengers are willing to share biometric data to improve the travel experience. In 2019, this number was 46%, showing just how much the public perception of this technology has shifted over the last few years. 

What’s behind this change of mind? Well, for a start, there’s a willingness to compromise on sharing personal data if it leads to a safer environment. Also, following the pandemic, travellers value a stress-free, efficient travel experience more than ever. And biometric technology can certainly deliver that.

In the States, United Airlines trialled a SITA-powered face recognition system, enabling customers to sync their ID documents with their facial biometric. This meant travellers could check in and board simply through facial scanning – not a boarding pass in sight. 

Of course, speed is a major factor in the biometric boom. In early trials, Lufthansa managed to get 350 passengers safely seated on board an Airbus A380 in a mere 20 minutes. In fact, it’s estimated that biometrics helps reduce check-in and boarding times by up to 80%.

Then there’s the increased security factor. Biometric systems will replace manual checks, of which human error is a factor – after scanning hundreds upon hundreds of documents, who can blame an agent for making a mistake? A biometric camera performs at an incredibly high level of accuracy for a long period of time. There’s also increased safety as, by its very nature, biometric technology is entirely touchless.  

Still, while passengers are coming round to the idea, privacy concerns remain. Airlines will need to further gain the trust of their customers if these concerns are to be eased; although, for travellers, the promise of safer travel might just seal the deal. 

Bag-free air travel

Let’s talk baggage. One of the key reasons travellers feel weighed down when they travel – quite literally – is the luggage problem. If we’re to ever arrive at the truly seamless, relaxing traveller experience, something’s going to have to give.

Firstly, for self-connecting passengers, collecting and re-checking luggage at their layover airport is a big pain point. Airsiders solves this issue by offering automated baggage check-thru, even when an interline or alliance agreement doesn’t exist between flight handlers.

Re-checking and re-collecting luggage may be an issue specific to self-connecting passengers, but actually carrying the luggage affects every traveller. Luckily, there are some big innovators out there keen on lightening the load. While it’s not yet part of a ‘regular’ airline service, there are already several companies tackling the inconvenience of processing luggage. 

AirPortr is one such company driving the shift towards contactless, bag-free air travel. Through AirPortr, the traveller’s luggage is weighed and collected from their door, the boarding pass is printed and delivered, then the baggage is checked in at the airport and even loaded onto the plane. At the other end, AirPortr delivers the luggage directly to the traveller’s destination. All this is supplemented by insurance, live tracking and CCTV, for added peace of mind.

On a large scale, this shift points to vast Amazon-style depots where baggage is handled before being loaded onto your flight. Still, there’s a big environmental question hanging over this kind of system, with an increase in pollution from such a large scale pickup/delivery service a major factor. If companies like Dubz and AirPortr are to genuinely change the baggage handling game, they’ll need to deliver efficiency in an ecological way.

A renewed focus on sustainability

Having taken a backseat behind health as the most important consideration for the aviation industry, sustainability will come to the fore once more. This year’s SITA report shows that sustainability has moved higher on airline CIOs’ agendas – 56% have already implemented new technologies to improve sustainability, while a third (32%) plan to do so by 2024. This means that by 2024, if all goes according to plan, 9 out of 10 airlines will have set up technologies to boost sustainability.

At last year’s IATA meeting, the air transport industry pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. It’s a huge target and really underlines aviation’s commitment to a green future. If it’s to be met, critical medium-term solutions, as well as robust long-term solutions, will need to be implemented.

One of the key drivers of these solutions is the Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT). A collaboration of Virgin Atlantic, Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines, ACT aims to discover and accelerate breakthrough technologies to decarbonise aviation. Emerging innovations include synthetic fuel, direct air capture (DAC) and new zero-emissions energy sources such as electric and hydrogen.

DAC, in particular, is being touted as a major breakthrough. United Airlines certainly sees it as having a potentially groundbreaking impact, having become a partner in a project to build the world’s first commercial DAC facility, where 1 million tons of CO₂ will be sucked from the atmosphere every year. 

If the zero-emissions target is to be met and our future is to be green, these kinds of innovations will be crucial. 

Virtual queuing 

IATA’s 2021 survey found that 55% of travellers believe boarding queues have to improve. Now, after successful implementation at sporting events, theme parks, hospitals and government agencies around the world, virtual queueing systems are set to deliver that improvement, with airlines queuing up to take advantage of this emerging trend.

Last year, British Airways trialled a virtual queuing system by tech company Qmatic at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Customers received an online ticket and could monitor their place in the queue via their smartphone. With customers able to pre-book their slot remotely in advance, waiting times and congestion were dramatically reduced. 

Meanwhile, airlines including Delta and Qantas were part of a trial at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Implemented by Copenhagen Optimization, the trial system, SEA Spot Saver, was a huge success that saved time for 90% of customers. As a result, SEA Spot Saver is now a permanent feature at the airport.

If done correctly, virtual queueing has the potential to make a huge impact on the passenger experience. From check-in desks to boarding lines, travellers will see waiting times drop dramatically. Of course, this leads to more downtime – a chance to relax or shop.

At a time when large queueing is not just an inconvenience but a health and safety issue, virtual queueing seems a safe bet for the airline industry. As the technology improves and any early teething problems are addressed, expect to see virtual queueing systems rolled out around the world. 

Flight subscriptions

In the age of the subscription model, with Netflix, Spotify and the like totally transforming the way we consume entertainment, it makes sense that the travel industry should explore how it could follow suit. In February, Alaska Airlines launched a ‘Flight Pass’ subscription program, using Caravelo’s innovative service, which offers subscription and revenue optimisation solutions for the airline and travel industry. 

Airlines like Alaska Airlines are looking to convert travellers into loyal ‘subscribers’, bolstering ancillary sales and including passengers in their optimisation strategy. For frequent flyers, it offers far more flexibility and big cost reductions, while airlines reap the rewards of incremental revenue and guaranteed income. This is good news for investors too, who can predict a certain amount of income for flight operators. 

The loyalty angle is certainly a big one. Having a permanent open channel of communication with their subscribers enables airlines to upsell and cross sell, while solidifying that crucial brand relationship.

Virtual interlining

As travel habits evolve, passengers are increasingly keen to take more control over their journeys. This points to the emergence of self-connected travel – an increasingly popular way of doing things. But booking two or more connecting flights independently from one another, with airlines that don’t have interlining agreements in place, has plenty of potential pitfalls for travellers in the current system.

That’s why airlines are starting to look towards virtual interlining (VI) solutions to better serve their customer base. Companies like Airsiders give airlines the ability to create a ‘virtual network’, identifying viable routes by accurately calculating dynamic MCTs (minimum connection time or door-to-gate transfer time) using advanced patent-pending technology. Amongst the factors taken into account are not only static data points like baggage MCTs, visa requirements and health regulations, but also real-time updates on shuttle bus availability and flight disruption information. Software and processes, too, enable luggage to be automatically checked through to the final destination even when an interlining or alliance agreement doesn’t exist.

What’s more, VI requires minimal technical input from flight carriers and is fully scalable – a major asset for airlines with big growth potential. 

Passenger preparation and assistance

Airlines are beginning to go the extra mile when it comes to making sure passengers feel prepared for their journey. Airsiders is offering innovative services that act as a virtual assistant in the palm of your hand. Our door-to-gate solution, for instance, is used by airlines to provide passengers with personalised wayfinding as well as precise gate-to-gate connection times and transfer risk based on live data, both before and after booking a flight. Standardised airport maps and a unique wayfinding solution, which integrates the passenger’s flight itinerary as well as real-time queue times at all the possible checkpoints (e.g. passport, security), automatically takes travellers to the quickest route. Additional information such as the latest retail offers and opening times help make the most of airport downtime, too. With all of this information available in one place, passengers can rely on a single solution to manage their entire journey.

Giving travellers centralised control yet, at the same time, more personalised guidance and security, will be key to the passenger experience over the coming years. If airlines are to help shape this experience, while reaping the benefits of increased customer loyalty and conversions, they will need to get connected to passenger preparation.


Essentially an all-encompassing platform that allows users to accomplish several different things within one central platform, superapps will be a big theme for airlines and other aviation enterprises over the next decade. In fact, they are already beginning to influence the industry.

AirAsia recently unveiled its own superapp, integrating more services up and down the value chain and offering flights of their competitors to capture a larger portion of the market. The app is based around three core pillars: media – in the form of chat and TV entertainment; commerce – in the form of a duty-free shopping and food delivery service; and financial products – in the form of AirAsia Money, which includes a mobile wallet, currency exchange and a loyalty platform. This one-stop travel and lifestyle e-commerce app allows you to book tickets (not just with AirAsia, but with hundreds of other airlines too), get deals on hotel stays, activity packages and transportation as well as buying food, health and beauty products.

The ability to cater for all these various consumer needs within one ecosystem is set to break new ground for airlines, both in terms of revenue diversification and being able to offer a new kind of travel experience for passengers.

The takeaway

As the after-effects of the pandemic on aviation gradually tail off, the travel industry has a lot to look forward to. 

The most innovative airline managers will be the ones who harness the trends and technologies above, to stand out in a crowded market and play their part in creating a new golden age of travel – for passengers and airlines alike – with safety, security, efficiency, flexibility and sustainability at the centre of a push towards a brighter future in our skies.

Airsiders is already helping airlines the world over to reshape the travel experience. To discover how we can help your team today, book a demo now

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a seismic impact on the aviation industry. Since the outbreak, European airports have lost an estimated $83.5 billion, with the effects still being reverberating today. And while we’ve seen an upward trend in airport traffic in the last months, increasing uncertainty about the global pandemic situation means that progress will be slow for the foreseeable future. 

In light of this development, airport managers are facing one top priority: how to increase airport revenue heading into 2022. This article aims to answer exactly that, looking at the new approaches and technologies airports can leverage to optimize revenue, reduce costs and reshape the customer experience.

How to increase airport revenue in the pre-travel phase

Getting passengers to invest in services before they arrive at the airport is crucial. Pre-ordering and pre-booking strategies have been implemented across hospitality and retail sectors for many years. And while the aviation industry has engaged pre-travel revenue, there’s now an opportunity to take things to the next level. 

With an increased emphasis on safety, security and organization, Airports can capitalise by offering passengers useful data and information to help them plan their journey. 

Attract new routes with Dynamic MCTs & virtual interlining

For airports keen to attract more airlines and new routes, dynamic MCTs and Virtual lnterlining solutions are key to strengthening their position as an ideal layover hub. 

Through the implementation of dynamic MCTs, with intelligent and seamless MCT calculations that come with advanced gate prediction algorithms, airports can pinpoint layover times and baggage through check-in precise detail. Providing this data to airlines, and showcasing the airports efficiency as a transfer hub, helps them make better decisions and increases opportunities for new business.

Airports can also adopt virtual interlining systems to further improve their attractiveness as a suitable layover hub. This offers two advantages: Firstly, they can provide automatic baggage through-check technology for flights where no interline or alliance agreements are in place. Secondly, it enables airport connection guarantees to ensure passengers are rebooked in case they miss their flight due to disruptions. 

The combination of dynamic MCTs and virtual interlining technology means airports can grow aeronautical revenue, by increasing routes and airline partnerships, and passenger related revenues, thanks to more traffic and better experience.

Online booking services

Airports can implement more online booking services to increase pre-travel revenue. Passengers are already well-accustomed to buying tickets using search engines and online travel agents (OTAs). In fact, OTAs have captured 40% of the global market, including hotels, airlines, packaged tours, rail travel and cruises, and the global online travel booking industry is now worth $517.8 billion.

All this speaks of incredible sell-on potential. Enabling passengers to book everything in one place – such as parking, VIP lounges, priority boarding, hotels, porter-services and reduced-mobility assistance – is essential to drive up that pre-airport revenue.   

How to increase onsite airport revenue

We know that passengers are key to recovery. The Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO) report states that almost 90% of airport revenues are passenger related. Meanwhile, a 1% increase in passenger satisfaction leads to 1.5% growth. So, it stands to reason that building an extra level of empathy for passengers, while genuinely understanding and acting on their concerns, will have a profound impact on airport revenue.

At a time of uncertainty and instability, earning the trust and confidence of passengers means going beyond standard regulations. By putting the customer front and centre, airports have the chance to construct consistent solutions throughout the travel chain. 

Here are some tools, technologies and systems that airports can implement to increase onsite revenue.

Standardised maps and data

Airports can take advantage of new technologies to provide passengers with precise gate-to-gate predictions, along with standardised onsite maps integrated with flight schedules, passenger itineraries and operational data. This all serves to provide passengers with added control over their journey, instilling a peace of mind that enables them to relax and enjoy the airport services on offer.

Having the right software and automated processes in place can also bring a much-needed simplicity to luggage through-checks, even when an interline and or alliance agreement doesn’t exist. Airsiders’ collaboration with BEUMER Group – a global leader in baggage handling systems – makes all this possible. All this leads to an improved self-connecting passenger experience. This means more airport passenger traffic and happier customers which, ultimately, translates to increased revenue and customer loyalty.

Cut the queues with cutting edge tech

A large part of maximizing the passenger experience is reducing waiting times. Airports can implement AI-based deep learning technology in the form of video analytics software, to increase situational awareness, predict passenger volume and optimise airport traffic flow. 

Video analytics data visualisations can track the number of passengers who travel through an airport or terminal for any length of time. This technology can also be used to maximise safety – key to avoiding bottlenecks and overcrowding during times of Covid-19 restrictions – while ensuring the streamlining of security checks, passport control, Covid-19 digital passport checks and visa control, etc. Ultimately, cutting down on passengers’ waiting or queuing time drives on-site airport revenues since they have more free time to relax, shop or eat. 

Customer profiling

In order to provide a first-rate passenger experience, airports must zero in on exactly who their passengers are. Airports can use data, such as video analytics data, to not only figure out how to make use of terminal space with maximum efficiency, but to also enable an understanding of customer habits and behaviours – whether visiting retail stores, restaurants, VIP lounges or any other part of the airport. 

Airports can also carry out passenger profiling by using survey data. This enables retailers to position the right kind of products in the right spaces, bringing a more personalised experience for passengers, while boosting revenues and building a loyal, long-term relationship between the traveller and the airport. 

Making use of advertising space

While online ad space is now the dominant form of advertising, there are still plenty of ways to engage customers within the physical space. And, with plenty of space available to airports, creative use of advertising within the airport is a very effective way to increase revenue. 

With a subtle advertising strategy that harmonises the aesthetic themes of the airport with the advertising space, airports can offer sponsors excellent opportunities to advertise their products, while engaging passengers with products that are relevant to them.

Within the context of the all-round improvement of the passenger experience, customers will be in a relaxed mindset, making them open to compelling messages. Plus, with less queuing time and more dwelling time in which to relax, the advertising space takes on more value.

Wooden benches could be engraved with logos, seats in gates areas could have upholstered advertising, waste and recycling bins could advertise new retail spaces within the airport and giant digital video screens and lightbox static ads could adorn wallspace.  

Airports could even showcase their advertising potential to sponsors with a VR tour, just like Sydney Airport’s advertisers did, leading to an increase in retail and ad revenue despite an overall drop in passenger traffic.

Optimize car park occupancy

Dynamic pricing models for airport car parks are a great way to optimize occupancy and maximize revenue for airports. In fact, these models work similar to the ones deployed by Uber and Lyft, who enjoyed rapid success on the back of this exact strategy. Concerns about detrimental effects on passenger experience are legitimate, but can easily be circumvented with appropriate planning and implementation. Particular emphasis must be thus placed on customer research to establish a model and boundaries that prevent excessive and numerous price fluctuations for passengers. 

What’s more, if implemented with care and combined with new technology, airports can actually improve the overall passenger experience when introducing dynamic pricing models. For instance, implementing an intuitive app that showed parking space availability in real-time would be a particularly useful customer-first feature, as would an increase in the number of payment options, including mobile pre-payments for parking spaces.

Peer benchmarking

Another important tool for improving airport revenues is peer airport benchmarking. It allows hubs to compare and contrast their on-site performance with that of other peer airports. By using comprehensive data collection and analytics, airports can thus zero in on core competencies and areas of improvement. This leads to an increased understanding of pain points, a clearer strategy for modernising and innovating, and an all-round increase in revenue and cost-efficiency.

Technology and innovation: the key drivers of airport revenue

In a post-pandemic world, airports need to look to new concepts to not only recover revenues lost since the beginning of 2020 but to go beyond. Tapping into new technologies is crucial – in terms of cutting costs and unlocking new revenue streams, but also when it comes to creating a safe, relaxing, compelling experience for the modern traveller.

By genuinely focussing on the needs of passengers and being open to new approaches and breakthrough technologies, airports can see significant revenue growth, while catering for all stakeholders across the value chain. 

Airsiders helps airports boost revenues by taking the leap to the new age of travel, providing cutting-edge solutions for virtual interlining as well as airports data and maps. 
To find out how our solutions can help your airport increase revenues, contact our experts here.