Over the next decade airports will need to generate revenue like they never have before, and the people who use the airports will play a major role in providing them with it.
Over the next ten years, an airport's success will depend on its ability to become a transport hub, but with strong non-aviation relationships. In other words, driven by increased competition and privatisation, they will have to shift their focus to areas such as marketing infrastructure, facilities management and information technology services.
This is revealed in a new report, Airport 2010, from Accenture. Some four out of five respondents agreed that people � passengers, meeters and greeters, and even airport employees � will become one of the most important customer groups. Practically all respondents agreed that this will mean getting to know their customers and their needs better.
Just like Schiphol
Accenture's Airline industry group partner, Guido Haarmann, cites the AirportCity formula of Amsterdam's Schiphol airport as an example of how airports can change using mass individualisation. Most respondents agreed that, with tight public budgets and the need for massive investment in airports, the privatisation of airports will continue. Almost all agreed that retailing would become increasingly profitable for airports and over half believed that by 2010 airports will no longer operate freight handling and airline handling by themselves.
How can the airports move forward in this environment? One way suggested by Accenture is by adopting loyalty programmes for frequent travellers, regardless of the airline they use. They could be rewarded for money they spend at the airport with perks such as fast-track check in, security and immigration facilities and special parking.
CRM is one solution
Of course, there is another problem as well: the cost of increased airport security after September 11th. According to Haarman: "Airports will have to revise their operating strategies. They have a variety of solutions available to them, including customer relationship management capabilities and information technology, which will be a significant catalyst for innovation and optimization according to the survey. Above all, airports should decide which capabilities they want to keep in-house, those at which they want to become `best in class' and those at which they should collaborate with other partners and suppliers to outsource."
Airport 2010 was based on interviews with 51 executives, representing 25 airports and five aviation experts from nine European countries. Of the 46 airports executives interviewed, 57% were board members or directors.