Trading data for convenience and other inclinations of today’s airline passenger
"We know, because we asked" - IATA
For the past half a decade, IATA (for whom IBS is a strategic partner) has been exploring what's on the mind of airline passengers around the world, in a bid to find out what they love, what they hate and what they want in the future. Yours truly did his bit this year, spending a quarter of an hour answering questions and even speculating a little bit – you can do so too at www.iata.org/paxsurvey until next month. But my main objective today is not promoting the survey; instead it is to use their results to quickly examine how passengers are at present, including any short term evolutions that have come into play.
Please note, these conclusions and predictions are the author's own and not on behalf of IATA. A link is provided at the foot of the blog post to the relevant page on the IATA website.
Information is wealth; so let's trade with it!
Passengers are going digital in their thinking and action, as is the average citizen of the world. Clearly, this is in part a result of passengers recognizing, as well as demanding, that technology be used to make life easier on many fronts. This is most evident in the fact that passengers are demanding instantaneous delivery of information, although there is significant variance over the channels they prefer. In 2012, a good 66% of survey respondents wanted proactive notifications about their flight (in case of delays, etc.) to be delivered over text messages. In 2016 this number dropped to 53% with the rest being open to smartphone apps or email being the medium used.
It is also interesting that around 85% passengers are willing to share data (passport details and other identifiers) about themselves if that will mean increased convenience and faster processes. This trend remains approximately the same from 2012 to 2016, and predictably will go up in 2017 if one can discount the impact of recent information security issues the world witnessed.
Are my bags safe?
In the 2012 survey, around 81% of respondents indicated that they would love to track their bags in realtime throughout their journey, but this has dropped to 61% in 2016. Although there isn't a significant level of dissatisfaction with baggage handling as such, many passengers would love to see lower fees on this account. This could also be a hint to the reason why passengers seem to be ready to let go of such a close (yet virtual) grip on their bags while in-flight!
Can't wait, won't wait
All that effort towards streamlining processes and investing in technology must ultimately point us towards one goal - a faster and more convenient journey from the airport gate to inside the aircraft. Consistently over the years, passengers have been expressing their interest in shortening the queues at security check, as well as reducing the intrusive procedures such as pat downs and removal of shoes and belts. No more than five to ten minutes in the queue, say the passengers every year. And automating the whole process would be a terrific bonus!
Summarize and predict what's in store for 2017
Overall, there is a good amount of rationality in what global air passengers have been demanding. Based on this year's events, one can easily assume the core theme on everyone's minds is how airline companies handle passenger services. It is predictable that the conclusions even in the 2017 edition (which are expected this quarter) can be summarized into three points:
1. Less disruptions, more predictability
2. Better awareness and information
3. Ease and convenience – from booking to landing
Even at the recently concluded IATA AGM it was discussed that the industry needs to reclaim its customer focus, while maintaining a data centric approach. This is remarkably aligned with what the passengers are demanding – surely a greatly positive sign for what's to come in the future.
Note: The conclusions and predictions mentioned on this blog post are made by the author, and not on behalf of IATA. They are based on the publicly available information provided by IATA. Click here for the full survey results published on the IATA official website.