It’s no secret that airport travelers rely on technology to complete their end-to-end journey. They use technology to plan their voyage because it makes life a little easier. It allows them to have total control over their trip and puts their experience, literally, into the palm of their hands. There’s a real opportunity for airports and airport lounges to deliver the seamless experience that travelers desire. An opportunity that would allow airports to earn more revenue and deliver an outstanding guest experience.
When designing an airport lounge experience that utilizes technology, it’s important to build your strategy around the needs and desires of your guests. Thanks, in part, to the advent of technology, guests now crave conveniences that their computers, tablets and laptops deliver all day every day: streamlined services, the ability to customize and easy access to lifestyle comforts.
Here are just a few best practices that we believe deliver these three desired conveniences to airport lounge guests.
Technology is making most processes smoother and easier; booking a dinner reservation, purchasing tickets to a concert, paying utility bills, etc. Travelers now expect the same seamless experiences with their airports. They want to lessen the steps it takes to get from booking to destination. Streamlining the process to booking lounge access is key in not only improving the customer experience, but in increasing traffic to your common use lounges.
How do you streamline airport lounge bookings? Embed the booking process into another integral part of the airport booking journey. Insert your lounge booking into another booking journey that an airport traveler would never miss to increase the number of views to your booking opportunity. For example, when your airport guests pre-book their parking online, provide the option to add lounge access with the click of one button before checkout. If you don’t feel that your own website will drive the amount of traffic you’d like to see, partner with another website that will make your lounge a part of their booking journey. Not only will this expand your distribution network, but it will provide convenience to your guests that are already booking travel through this other site.
They’ll appreciate the ease of booking. Working with a team of digital specialists, an airport can pinpoint what part of the digital journey a guest would be most likely to add the purchase of access to an airport lounge. The same specialists can then strategize on how to execute the integration in a way that makes it the easiest for airport guests to encourage the most bookings.
Consumers now crave the ability to customize their every experience. As the world becomes more global and our tastes expand, so does our craving for a larger selection of options and customization.
Technology provides an amazing opportunity to reach across the globe and deliver something special to guests within the four walls of our lounges. Research your guests’ wants and needs and use that information to pinpoint the type of customization that they’ll find valuable. Then work with a team of digital experts to design the delivery method of exactly the type of customization that they crave. For example, we’ve found that our lounge guests appreciate feeling connected to their hometown wherever they may be.
So, with the help of PressReader, we can deliver complimentary access to 7,000+ publications in 60+ languages. This complimentary service allows guests to download newspapers and magazines to enjoy in the lounge then take on board their flight via whatever device they may be carrying on their journey.
With the implementation of this single digital program, we’re able to align our lounges with the world’s top publications while giving guests the option to customize their reading selection in a way that we could never imagine without the use of technology. One guest may fill their iPad with Vogue, Life & Style and Yoga Journal while another guest fills their smartphone with USA Today, Newsweek and Forbes. Every guest can design their own lounge entertainment experience. In addition, we also learn even more about our customers as we study the publications that resonate with them the most.
When it comes to “feeling like home,” being connected is the most important part. Airport lounge Wi-Fi speed should match the speed of the super-fast personal connection that guests enjoy when sitting on their own couch at home. When a guest logs on to your lounge’s complimentary Wi-Fi they should be greeted with speeds that are so fast that they can download their favorite Netflix shows and begin binge watching before they take their first sip of coffee.
We’ve all been there; connecting to free Wi-Fi only to find that the speed is moving at a snail’s pace and you can see your day’s productivity slowly slipping away. A weak spot in this one amenity can truly destroy your guest satisfaction scores. There is no doubt that slow Wi-Fi will lead to killer Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews. This one simple digital upgrade will greatly improve the user’s digital experience.
And here is the least “revolutionary” of all best practices, but it must be said, supply an abundance of outlets (both USB and AC). Gone are the days where an important airport lounge amenity is a row of desktop computers. Both business and leisure airport travelers carry their own personal devices. And most times, they’re carrying two or even three digital devices.
When you’re traveling with a work phone, personal cell phone and laptop, there’s no question that an outlet will be necessary at some point. Travelers are now at the point where they expect to have multiple outlets within reach. They don’t want to plug in their cell phone at the only outlet at the other end of the room and tediously monitor the phone from afar while it charges. They expect an outlet, or two or three, at every seat. The more people rely on their devices for travel (digital boarding pass, Apple Wallet, confirmation emails), the more important an outlet becomes.
Those are just some of the best practices that can start seeing technology work for your airport lounge. But let’s look ahead to the future of technology and lounges. MAG USA believes that convenience will become more of a lifestyle service. Airports are cities in themselves so therefore you can extract an endless amount of service levels and needs and deliver them to travelers in creative ways. As lounge booking becomes more integrated into other distribution networks and different portions of airports, which were traditionally siloed, begin to work together to create a seamless experience, expect to see the delivery of goods to customers in new ways and for technology to be the driver in this airport travel revolution.
There will be a day when airport travel is considered “easy” and “convenient” thanks to technology. It’s in the hands of US airports to make the important decision to dedicate the resources it takes to turn their airport and airport lounges into technologically savvy travel hubs. Develop a team of in-house digital experts or work with an agency who specializes in airport services and technology. These teams can develop an overall strategy to streamline your guest journey and analyze guest data to meet traveler expectations and strengthen bonds with travelers while improving performance. Most agencies will already hold tried and true methods that can be quickly implemented at your airport.
By Sid Higgins - Vice President of Commercial for Escape Lounges