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Let's Get Personal...With Your Local Airport

Are you traveling this summer? Airlines for America predicts that some 250 million passengers will be passing through U.S. airports, with a significant number toting smart phones as part of their carryon luggage.

Airports across the globe are trying to improve their customer engagement strategy. I recently worked with an airport seeking a better way for customers to navigate their facilities using mobile devices and beacon technology. Officials recognized that this effort  would not only result in happier passengers, but would serve as an opportunity to reach customers “on-the-move” with targeted offers to drive incremental non-aeronautical revenue for the airport and concessionaires alike.

However, the airport faced a major obstacle: they didn’t know who their customers were. In other words, they lacked profile information on the millions of people passing through their facility.

Turning Unknown Audiences into Customers

Before orchestrating a one-to-one engagement strategy, the airport needed to first identify and understand their customers. After examining different sources of customer data that could be used for outreach, they uncovered a list of customers who used the airport’s free Wi-Fi.

Further, they noticed that many of the Wi-Fi customers were local residents. Airport management developed a plan to offer discounted parking for customers who signed up for their mobile app. Once customers enrolled, the airport could then begin to communicate with them at every point within the airport’s walls, and begin to offer targeted information and ads, such as discounted parking valet services or car washing services for returning travelers. 

Beacons: Your Virtual Mobile Concierge

The airport installed beacons throughout the facility, enabling the detection of mobile devices.

Beacons can detect the movement of passengers, and can push targeted notifications such as ads traveler tips and more to the mobile phone. Depending on the customer’s profile, messages are sent for any number of products and services, from pillows to pretzels. The specific message that is pushed at that point in time is determined by the beacon, the passenger profile, and the journey that has been orchestrated.

Now, the airport can leverage the power of marketing and mobile together to reach the customer with the right message at the right time at the right location. Beacons enable the airport to become the customer’s virtual concierge, helping them to navigate the airport based on their terms.

Airport officials needed four main components to implement the experience: 

  • Marketing Automation–orchestrated campaigns designed based on the customer persona, behavior and interests.

  • Beacons–devices strategically placed in and around the airport to detect the customer’s presence.

  • Mobile Framework–an framework that ties together the various disparate data sources which feed the mobile app.

  • Mobile Application–mobile interface to enable a dialogue between the customer and the airport.

Any public transportation hub can leverage this same framework and guiding principles as they begin designing an engagement strategy with other types of customers, concessionaires and community partners. Often, these efforts can spark economic development by promoting the products and services of small businesses within their community.

So next time you’re in an airport, look around… you might sense the beacons! They’ll surely sense you.

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