Unleashing innovative airport strategies for customer and commercial excellence

Pass Ex Box 3
June 26, 2024

Using novel technologies to solve airport and passenger pain points.

Joel Godfrey, CAVU’s Digital Product Director, recently attended Future Travel Experience (FTE) EMEA to discuss using advances in technology to solve genuine customer problems in a way that also benefits the airport. With customer expectations increasing, and disconnected experiences remaining a key challenge, there is space for significant improvements in the airport experience.  


Customers expect convenience and personalisation  

Customers increasingly expect their physical experiences to match the expectations set by the likes of Deliveroo, Amazon or Uber, where the products and services they buy into are enabled by seamless digital touchpoints. Airports can often struggle to keep up with expectations in this space, leading to reduced customer satisfaction and passengers choosing to fulfil parts of their journey elsewhere. In a recent Salesforce report, 40% of travellers cited disconnected experiences as their top pain point.  

At CAVU, addressing this is the core of our strategic thinking. We know from speaking to our customers, passengers, airports and potential clients that the customer journey is often fragmented and full of friction. Booking with multiple providers to satisfy different parts of the trip can cause chaos if one part of the chain breaks.  

These passenger pain points include getting to the airport on time despite traffic and delays; managing logistics such as luggage, security and access to WiFi, food and phone charging; accommodating party members with different needs, like children or those with accessibility requirements; and navigating local barriers like language and currency at their destination. 

When it comes to solving these challenges, Forrester reported that 77% of people choose, recommend or pay for brands that provide a personalised experience. We see across almost every industry and sector that when companies listen to their customers and put the effort in to solve complex problems in a really simple and personalised way, they can stand out in a crowded market. Companies like Monzo have taken this a step further, inviting customers deep into and creating a community around the problem solving process, resulting in a fiercely loyal customer base that advocates publicly for them.


Airports are facing competition in the digital space 

For airports, there is a growing need for the monetisation of the customer journey. While historically, parking and retail were the main non-aeronautical revenue drivers, airports are increasingly facing competition from new transport modes and retail methods. 

However, monetising the customer journey is particularly difficult to achieve if the passenger is ‘unknown’. For instance, if someone arrives in a cab, they remain a ‘ghost’ to the airport, having not provided any personal information during an online interaction. Without personal information and a way to communicate with their customers, it is virtually impossible to upsell customers or to provide the personalised approach that customers now demand. 



Understanding how technology can solve pain points is key 

At CAVU, we don’t focus on deploying technology as the end goal, but as a means to solve genuine customer problems in a way that also benefits the airport. Understanding customer motivators and how technology can address different needs is crucial. 

Travel through airports is inherently stressful, so one of our core aims is to make this process simpler for passengers by providing clear, consolidated information and options. We also aim to simplify choices and streamline information to avoid passengers becoming overwhelmed, which often leads to decision paralysis. 

At CAVU, we use technology to solve the needs of passengers in a way that meets the commercial objectives of airports – increasing passenger yield and ancillary revenue, increasing passenger satisfaction through an improved experience, and reducing cost to serve through self-serve and automation. Meeting heightened customer expectations means airports need to adapt to a digital ecosystem, with technology like biometrics access or using AI to scan baggage as the enablers, not the outcome in and of themselves. Most customers don’t care about the tech – they care about the experience.

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CAVU is trialling real world applications of innovative technologies

We are currently piloting Amazon One’s biometric technology outside the US for the first time. This uses palm recognition to streamline airport processes by linking confirmations and tickets to an individual’s biometric data. This not only improves operational efficiency but also enhances customer experience, by not needing to scan QR codes or show email confirmations at each touch point through the airport.

Partnering with Copenhagen Optimization, we are also trialling a system that allows passengers to pre-book their security check time. This helps to reduce stress by providing information on less busy times, smoothing out peaks and optimising staff allocation. 

Both of these solutions help solve a customer pain point, but also allow the airport to “know” more of their customers digitally, offering other products and services to monetise more of the customer journey.

Technology has the power to transform the airport experience 

By addressing customer pain points and integrating commercial and technological strategies, we can create significant improvements in the airport experience. Companies such as Netflix, Airbnb or Spotify illustrate the success that can be achieved by prioritising solving genuine customer problems using technology. We aim to achieve the same thing in the travel sector.