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Airports and airlines are clearly focused on improving the travel experience. But are the investments they’re making having the desired impact? Based on new research reports -- for both airlines and airports -- of 2,160 travelers just released from FlightView (www.FlightView.com), a day-of-travel information company, the answer is a resounding "no."
"WiFi is and has been the highest priority for travelers, yet satisfaction levels have remained largely the same -- with approval for airport WiFi actually decreasing by 4% and improving for in-flight WiFi by a little more than 1%, since this time last year," says Mike Benjamin, CEO of FlightView. "With more travelers using smartphones at the airport, and 82 percent using them in-flight -- improving WiFi is absolutely critical to improving the overall travel experience."
Despite all the hype, only 8% of those surveyed find value in virtual assistant holograms, which cost airports $20 to $30 thousand each. Fewer than 16% care about massage stations, and only 30% are interested in sleeping pods.
"Meeting customer expectations requires asking before implementing," says Benjamin. "In this case, some airports have spent upwards of $100 thousand on innovative extras that travelers could take or leave, when what they really want are services that support their connected lifestyles."
Case in point: When asked which amenities travelers would like to see airports and airlines provide, the responses were nothing revolutionary: 87% want more charging stations for electronics at the airport, and nearly 75% would value tray tables with electronic hookups and charging capabilities from airlines.
In order to strike the right balance between innovation and practicality, airlines and airports should focus investments on what travelers crave most: mobile self-service and personalized, actionable travel information. Among the travelers surveyed, the desire for improved mobile functionality was strong:
84% of travelers want mobile access to personalized flight information like boarding times and the status of their connecting flight
76% want the ability to view security line wait times
59% want the capability to track missing luggage
50% want mobile access to their position on the standby list
45% want the ability to manage and share travel itineraries
Destination-centric information was also paramount -- nearly 90% of travelers want airlines to push the gate and status of their connecting flight to their mobile device, while more than 60% want terminal maps, and 53% would value weather forecasts.