Five Major Challenges and Five Easy Solutions for Airport Management
This blog is a guest blog written by Silvia Pichler from our Austrian partner, indoo.rs. indoo.rs specializes in Indoor Positioning, Indoor Mapping, Indoor Analytics, Asset Tracking, and Indoor Navigation.
Silvia Pichler is a Marketing Manager at indoo.rs and responsible for all things creative. In her leisure time she likes to immerse herself in books and discover foreign cultures while traveling.
With airports ever growing in size, the range and diversity of offerings exploding, and travel behaviour changing, new challenges evolve for the management.
The observed income growth and the resulting rise of the middle class around the world, especially in developing countries, allows more and more people to afford international travels. Already in 2016, the IATA reported a 7% increase, equaling 242 million additional trips, in air travels compared to 2015.
New businesses created around travel, promising extraordinary experiences for all wallet sizes, such as Airbnb (e.g. live like a local or in a luxury tree house) have also contributed to making traveling more attractive and accessible for younger generations.
Furthermore, enhanced competition has forced travel providers to lower their prices, making travels more easily available for a broader mass. According to a study conducted by Visa and Oxford Economics in 2015, international travel is going to increase by 35% by 2025.
Airports have to adjust to manage new challenges resulting from the ever growing popularity and affordability of air travel. Indoor Positioning and Indoor Wayfinding provide efficient solutions to take away some of the complexity and optimize the airport experience for all parties involved.
Meet and Exceed Expectations
As technology advances, making our everyday lives easier, people come to expect a certain level of comfort and high value service from businesses in return for their money. Bad experiences such as disorientation at the airport or difficulties and inconveniences accessing information about their flight are generally frowned upon and can easily lead to frustration and a negative image of the airport.
Many airports nowadays already have their own mobile app. Enhancing it with an Indoor Navigation feature adds substantial value on top.
Has the gate changed? Make this information readily available for your passengers by simply sending them a push notification via the mobile app, instead of risking them misunderstanding the announcement or missing the update on a monitor. Help them find their way to the new gate on time via Indoor Navigation and reduce passenger stress.
Crowds and Queues
Specific areas such as check-in, security check, and passport control at airports are prone to be crowded or downright congested during peak times. This is not only an annoyance for travelers, but also bad for the airport, as every minute wasted in the queue is time that could have been spent in the shopping or entertainment area. With around 40.4% of global airport revenues deriving from non-aeronautical revenue streams, the retail area has become a vital contributor to airports’ financial stability.
So how can passenger flow be improved? Simply overstaffing is economically unreasonable, considering that there are still often times when queues are short and move fast enough. What is needed is a solution that helps management identify bottlenecks and tells them exactly when and how to allocate resources, e.g. deploying additional personnel for a task.
This can be done via Indoor Analytics. Real-time information on smartphone users’ positions and motion patterns allows management to take timely measures against overcrowding and queue forming.
Safety and Security
Tragic events in the past are the reason for all the security measures that are in place at airports today. In the age of terrorism, it has become a primary concern and personnel must be prepared for any sort of incident at all times.
Indoor Positioning and Asset Tracking help improve overall security and facilitate incident management.
Let us say there is an emergency situation in the retail area. As soon as the incident is noticed or reported, the guard closest to the site will be assigned to solve the problem. This can be figured out via the digital map showing all real-time positions of personnel.
Should the situation demand more staff, the guards can share their location with colleagues, making it easier for them to find the exact location of the incident and get there faster.
Dangerous situations can also occur due to malfunctions of equipment or damages in the building structure, e.g. a lighting fixture coming off the ceiling. As soon as any of the personnel notices this, they can mark the location on the map in the app and have an electrician get there to fix it as soon as possible.
All in all, Indoor Positioning helps identify, locate, and resolve incidents faster than before.
Naturally, with all the entertainment, culinary, and retail programme you can nowadays find on offer at airports, management wants travellers to actively spend their time at the venue.
This applies especially to passengers with long layovers. Instead of passing their time sleeping in the lounge, you want them to check out what is in store for them.
To encourage this, you can send them around the airport with a mobile tour guide, showing them what is on offer.
Send them location based coupons and lure them into a store upon passing it, before they even reach their lounge.
They might get hungry but don’t know where to go. Facilitate their decision by listing all restaurants on the map, including ratings and images posted by previous visitors, just like Google Maps. Once they reached a decision, let them navigate directly to the right place.
The number of Passengers with Reduced Mobility (PRM) who need wheelchair assistance to move around the airport is growing substantially every year. Although wheelchair services need to be booked in advance, oftentimes people either don’t show up for their appointment or come asking for help spontaneously. Both cases lead to inefficiencies in time management and resource distribution.
In order to be able to avoid any inefficiencies, Indoor Positioning and Asset Tracking helps provide the real-time locations of wheelchairs and staff on a digital map. Available and closeby staff can be assigned to pick up specific passengers. The staff can then easily identify and locate available wheelchairs in their immediate vicinity, saving the time otherwise spent searching.
The recording of time stamps whenever the staff and PRM pass certain checkpoints helps keep track of the workflow and resource utilization.