Airports - the travel destination
As global connectivity grows, airports become an important part of the connected world. Nowadays and in the future, airports represent the leisure and business time spending as well as a business opportunity of the building and cities nearby. This article dives into the world of airports, developments, economic impacts, travelers' profiles, and the future trends of the sector worldwide.
Asia Pacific mega-hubs
According to PwC and Oxford Economics report, annual investment in airports worldwide in 2025 will double from 2007 units reaching $80 billion. The change is driven by investments in the Asia Pacific region growing up to $30 billion due to the economic development and increased need for connectivity. The new mega-hub projects that include the Al Maktoum International Airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport, Hong Kon International Airport’s Three Runway System, and Changi’s East extension, are preparing to have a capacity of more than 100 m passengers annually. As numbers above show, the airport sector is growing and finding itself in the new ways. The innovation is centered on the development of digitalisation, comfort, and connectivity. People worldwide spend more time in the airports, and it is essential to know who is the passenger of the future.
Gym and cafes
in the air
Increased passenger flow means the various innovations in the airplane building as well. The size of the planes is increasing. For instance, Airbus plane of the future is expected to have a gym, cafes, entertainment spaces but no view. The Transpose is a modular vehicle that allows customization of the plane in minutes. Switching from space with seats for 300 passengers to a hundred of sleeping cabins with the gym space for a long time flight. Modular construction makes the production time faster, cheaper, and a lot more flexible quickly responding to new customer demand. While introducing massive savings for airlines, Transpose will require a new airport ecosystem and technologies to perform an on-site transformation. As a result, new terminals will be in demand for large airplanes of the future.
Increased passenger flow has another externality - a boost of the vehicles in the air. The time airplane spends in the airport is costly, the operations of reloading the passengers, refueling, and cleaning have to be shortened. The issues are being tackled from multiple sides. Baggage load will be performed using robots that would carry the luggage to the destination airplane and would reduce the number of lost suitcases. Besides, LG has launched two friendly robots for the terminals - one for cleaning, and another for guiding passengers to their gates. The guiding robot scans the boarding pass and helps customers on their way to the airplane as well as giving overview information of their destination place. Notwithstanding, the mobile applications for passengers are the one to be widely spread leading the customer around. Especially, in the largest airports like Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International or Beijing Capital International Airport, it is important to provide customer will the information on hoe to spend their leisure time, when to wake up from the nap, and when to start getting to the gate not to delay the flight.
personas of future
Raising middle class and business connectivity will increase the passenger flow worldwide, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, as projected by Airport Council International, there are six types of passengers personas, and it's better to know them to provide the best services. ACI World Director General Angela Gittens comments: “Each persona provides the airport not only with a more detailed understanding of the passenger’s needs, preferences and behavior but also gives guidance on how those parameters are evolving, creating a series of passenger portraits that are unique to that airport. As such, the personas are much more valuable than a simple static ‘snapshot’ profile and will actually evolve with the pattern of changes in passenger behavior.”
The Value Seeker, The Sun Lounge Tourist, and The Airport Enthusiast together represent almost 57% of all passengers and are most likely to increase non-aeronautical revenues at airports. The Sun Lounge Tourist is the dominant global persona describing third of the total passenger flow. This leisure traveler, while being not an inexperienced traveler, is ready to spend time and money on entertainment and shopping in the airport itself. For them, airport plays an important role in the trip being a part of the whole holiday experience. The Sun Lounge Tourist will seek for entertainment in the terminal, shopping opportunities, unusual gems to share in the social media, as well as luxurious treatment.One of the best examples of the airport that corresponds with such customer desires is Singapore's Changi. The Value Seekers segment of travelers is high spenders with high standards. They are looking for the value of the each moment and ready to spend cash on the small and large enjoyments. On the same wave with previous two, The Airport Enthusiast less maintenance than its earlier segments. Being a regular traveler, he or she is still able to enjoy every moment of the trip, ordering an exquisite meal and doing shopping in the airport. For the group of those three profiles, it is essential to provide decent services including restaurants, spas, entertainment, and events.
The next group is looking for clear instructions, clean spaces, efficient and friendly service. The Workman profile explains an experienced global business person, who is having high demands and values comfort. This persona would prefer a comfortable lounge with a working space, internet connectivity, efficiency of services, and overall level of comfort. The Workman makes up 20 percent of the global passenger capacity and is every fourth traveler in the North America and Africa. The Friendly Vacationer and The Timekeeper both seek for clarity, consistency of information, and ease of moving around. Speed and efficiency are the crucial moments of the time spent in the airport. The Friendly Vacationer represents 8 percent of the travelers while The Timekeepers take up to 15 percent.
One of the best examples of the airport that corresponds with such customer desires is Singapore's Changi. The airport is considered the best in the world for its numerous advantages and option for leisure time. Changi is famous for its Amazon parks inside the airport, free cinema, the only in the world terminal outdoor swimming pool, numerous spa option, slides, and large retail zone. However, the advantages do not stop there. The new Terminal 4 is due to start operating in the second half of 2017. The terminal is green-themed with Greenwall facade consisting of 16,000 plants. It will be a dream destination for shopaholics offering them more than 80 retail outlets spread over 16,000 sqm. To add up to all the entertainment and leisure opportunities, the new terminal will be equipped with the multiple biometric checks. As Changi is expected to handle up to 80 million passengers a year by 2025, the quick and digital system is essential for its operations today and in the future. The Changi is definitely an airport of the future, that shift its purpose from being a traveling tool to being a desired destination point.
Iceland noticed an opportunity of becoming a flight connection hub in a new way. Those countries and their biggest airlines are offering passengers a free one-day delay for the connection flight to explore the city. For example, on the flight from the Americas to Europe with the connection of Reykjavik, passengers can have up to seven days stopover with no additional air charges. That is an incredible way to make the island a touristic center for long-hour journeys. Moreover, Icelandair started to build additional services on the top of stopover offer. Locals can now show their hospitality on request and show wonders of their home country to tourists with the Stopover Buddy. The Stopover boosts the traveling sector and creates new working places for the small but marvelously beautiful country.
People will spend more time in the airport, stretching time from 30 minutes to the overnight stays. The airport of the future becomes a tool for touristic flow attraction, retail monster, and even weekend destination. Who knows, maybe airport weekend will stand beside other types of travel like a beach vacation, city break, and extreme travel.