Are Airports and Airlines Ready to Sell To Travelers?

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

While we’ve been writing about the numerous airports and airlines where companies like RMG Networks, Clear Channel Airports, Titan Air and JCDecaux have been installing digital signage, the new global 2014 Traveler Experience Survey by NCR Corporation raises questions about the gaps and regional tendencies for consumer expectations of shopping experiences while traveling versus what is currently available to them.

ncr_logoRevenue from airline amenities and ancillary fees was expected to top $42 billion in 2013. Airports too, now derive up to half of their revenue from non-aero retail and concessions. Yet survey results reveal there may be an even larger opportunity for those travel providers that can deliver the kind of personalized, digital shopping experience consumers get from leading retailers.

The research report noted: –

  • 38% of respondents are likely to purchase ancillary items like duty free, upgrades and WiFi, before even arriving at the airport via their mobile device;
  • 40% said they’d be more likely to purchase these kinds of items if offered via mobile or self-service kiosks versus interacting with an agent;
  • 55% said they’d be willing to provide personal info for targeted offers such as favorite airport restaurants or retailers.

“The survey shows passengers want to buy more items online, via mobile devices or kiosks when en route,” says Tyler Craig, vice-president and general manager, NCR Travel. “Consumers are used to a seamless digital experience when they shop, and they’d like a similar experience when they shop while traveling. A few airports globally have fully embraced omnicommerce strategies, but the vast majority could benefit from adopting the best practices we see every day in retail.”

Data from the survey also indicates marked differences in retail expectations by consumers depending on where they live.

An overwhelming majority of respondents in China (79%), the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) (83%) and Brazil (84%) would like to make airport purchases, such as parking, meals, souvenirs or spa services on their mobile or kiosk, while that number was slightly more than half in the U.S., U.K. and Australia;

The survey found slight regional differences around the desire to make purchases from airport retailers and kiosks and have them shipped directly to avoid additional carry-ons. (U.S. 62%, U.K. 62%, Brazil 87%, Australia 71%, China 87% and U.A.E. 77%).

“Airports have clearly upped their game in terms of more diversity and the quality of their retail and dining offerings,” says Craig. “But a survey by Heathrow Airport indicated only one in five travelers purchased a retail item in the airport. We think there is a unique opportunity for airports to garner a larger share of retail purchases if they can create a better experience for shoppers.”

The 2014 NCR Traveler Experience Survey is an annual online survey of approximately 6,000 adult consumers in the U.S., U.K., China, U.A.E., Australia and Brazil and was conducted in Dec./13 by market research firm ORC International.

More information about this survey can be obtained at the NCR booth #1636 during Passenger Terminal Expo in Barcelona, Spain, March 25 – 27.

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