Uncover the importance of airport digitalization

How airports can embed emerging technologies into their business operations to enhance the passenger experience

With growing passenger footfall and an increased demand for a more digital experience, airports are now leveraging emerging technologies to transition from a flight operations-based model to a more passenger-centric one.

By analyzing the customer data collected through these new technologies, airport operators can begin to tailor services to each individual passenger; increasing loyalty by differentiating the airport experience and driving passenger spend through engagement personalized to their interests.

Below, we’ve pooled together a number of resources that uncover the importance of airport digitization and how airports can embed emerging technologies into their business operations to further enhance the passenger experience.

  • Passengers have been embracing technology for years, relying on smartphones, tablets and other devices to stay informed and up-to-date on the day of travel. Many airports have bought in too, investing heavily in self-service technology that keeps travelers informed and improves the airport experience.

    Recently, it seems airports have uncovered an important secret about improving the passenger experience. The better the experience, the more comfortable the passenger – which has a direct impact on the amount they spend whilst in the airport.

    Keeping passengers well informed not only improves overall satisfaction and reduces the burden on airport customer service teams, but it also leads to passengers spending more money.

    Over the next decade (2016 to 2025), digitalization in aviation, travel and tourism is expected to create up to $305 billion of value for the industry, and also migrate $100 billion of value from traditional players to new competitors, according to a recent World Economic Forum report.

    It seems passengers are also increasingly more open to using digital services to get themselves – and their bags – from departures and boarding, to arrivals at their destination.

    But what is the best way for airports to approach this opportunity?

    While airports are investing in infrastructure and technology to improve the passenger journey, generally speaking, the majority of passengers still view being at the airport as a stressful experience.

    Your checked bag must be under a certain weight. Security queues are often long. Unfamiliar airports can be challenging to navigate. Flights get delayed or cancelled. Add in traffic on the way to the airport, rental car drop-offs, overcrowded waiting areas and rushed meals for fear of missing your flight and you’ve got a recipe for anxiety and frustration – which, of course, is not very conducive to passenger spending.

    It is with these factors in mind that airports are now taking the ‘digital experience’ one step further; leveraging emerging technologies to develop passenger-centric models aimed at creating a positive airport experience.

    It is important to note that this use of technology shouldn’t be focused on a single touch point, but rather to create consistency throughout the end-to-end passenger journey from check-in and waiting areas, to baggage handling, passport control and on-boarding.

    But are airports taking it far enough?

    Airports need to champion innovation and information transparency, and better integrate flight information into their business operations, particularly the restaurant and retail scene if they wish to drive passenger spend further.

  • Manchester Airport Logo

    Manchester Airport Group (MAG)

    MAG is the largest airport group in the UK and owns and operates Manchester, London Stanstead and East Midlands Airports.

    They have set up a digital incubator group separate to rest of the business with the aim of disrupting the business digitally. They’re seeking much on their inspiration from outside the airport industry and are aiming to develop technology that replicates what customers have come to expect from leading technology brands such as Amazon and Spotify. The team has trialled, tested and introduced dozens of new initiatives aiming to challenge the wider business to evolve the passenger offering and embraces the modern demands of both online and offline customer experience.

    Their ultimate aim for the future is to create a truly personalised airport experience where passengers are guided directly to their parking space via mobile web services, have food ready and waiting for them at the restaurant of their choice and are able to take advantage of personalised discounts in shops and then finally guided to the plane at exactly the right time for boarding.


    JFK Airport Logo

    New York JFK

    Select restaurant tables in JFK airport have an iPad with the passengers departure time and live status of the aircraft ensuring passengers never have to wait at the gate due to a flight delay.


    Tampa International Airport Logo

    Tampa Bay International Airport

    Tampa Bay International Airport experienced a 10% increase in airside concession revenue and a 7% increase in dollars spent per passenger after introducing gate displays that shows the progress of inbound aircraft, giving passengers a more accurate picture of when their plane will arrive.


    Dubai Airports Logo

    Dubai International Airport

    Dubai International Airport expects to reduce travel time to the gate for departing flights by 50% by introducing smart gates equipped with technology such as automatic identification system, facial imprint and automatic iris scan, working to make the passport control process much faster.


    Dublin Airport Logo

    Dublin Airport

    Dublin Airport have introduced an app called Dub Hub which works like a mini Google map to help passengers navigate around the airport. Dub Hub also facilitates easy book of car parks, business loungers and VIP services.

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