travel

Travelers prefer human touch to automation at airport, according to new OAG analysis

6 Comments

OAG, the world's leading provider of travel data and insight, today reveals its latest tech market analysis, The Airport Delight Report: Humans vs. Machines. Based on a survey of over 2,000 U.S. travelers, OAG offers new insight for airport leaders and tech providers looking to delight travelers, streamline operations and grow revenue.

The major takeaway: While high tech investments and automation improve the airport experience, they aren't a cure-all. In fact, outside of ticketing and check-in, the market prefers human customer service over automation for almost every other travel function: baggage (54% human to 46% automated customer service), security (55% to 45%), boarding (64% to 36%), concierge (83% to 17%) and in-flight services (80% to 20%).

Additional takeaways from OAG's analysis include:

-- Travelers don't mind being tracked - if it leads to a better experience: Nearly 60% of travelers would let airports track their location through a mobile or wearable device to redeploy staff to cut down on wait times.

-- Forget robots. Practicality trumps flash: Only 19% of travelers said they see value in interactive robots that provide information and concierge services. Comparatively, 40% want more baggage loading zones to expedite security lines, 54% would value in-airport, turn-by-turn directions for navigating terminals and gates, and 75% want real-time updates on expected boarding times.

-- Momentum builds for automated airport retail: 54% of millennials, 37% of business travelers and 35% of all travelers reported interest in self-checkout retail options at the airport.

"We're seeing that the market isn't quite ready for a full-fledged automated airport experience - although we expect that evolve over time, with tech eventually becoming the clear preference," said Vipul Nakum, chief product officer at OAG. "While investing in emerging technology is smart, travel leaders need to remember the easy and simple wins, like consistent flight status updates, text message alerts before boarding, more baggage loading zones, and in-airport directions and GPS. These simple improvements reduce friction and delight passengers."

OAG also evaluated sentiment around two untapped airport revenue opportunities: on-demand, gate-side delivery and pre-ordering through mobile. OAG found that while only 6% of travelers have pre-ordered food or drink for pickup at a gate-side restaurant, 66% would consider taking advantage in the future. Similarly, while only 9% of travelers have ordered gate-side delivery of food and drink, 62% are willing to try it out.

"The easiest way to delight travelers - and get them to spend more gate-side -- is through convenience and information," added Nakum. "Travelers that feel truly informed, with consistent updates across all channels, are more comfortable and confident venturing away from the gate to patronize restaurants, retail stores and bars. For travel leaders looking to capitalize, the more proactive and prescriptive they can be with their updates - 'Group A is boarding in 15 minutes, Group B in 30 minutes, last call in 40 minutes,' the more valuable."

© Business Wire

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

6 Comments
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Last time I came back to Japan, a few weeks ago, everything was automated. In addition to self-check-in, which many of us are already accustomed to, I had to print my baggage tag, and do everything else without a staff member. And it wasn't the first time. I can understand how some of the elderly would get confused and need the human touch. My boarding passes are bar codes on my smartphone half the times, but I still print it out as back-up. And of course I don't really have to come into contact with officers at immigration in my own country. Times are changing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

At an airport machines have never solved a problem for me. in fact, screens can be confusing and confounding to travellers who do not fly frequently. Messages and boarding passes to phones are helpful as information does a great deal to ease any travel anxieties.

However, human beings have assisted me in various ways numerous times. Always with courtesy, concern for my well-being and often congeniality and good humour. You can't get that from a machine....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I hate Terminal five at Heathrow, where everything is do it yourself machines. Tried for ages to get the machine to print my luggage label at the do it yourself luggage drop. People behind me in the queue helped too. In the end a member of staff had to help.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am all for whatever gets me on my flight quicker. I am more accustomed to self check-in processes than dealing with people. The best thing that hasn't been mentioned are the new mobile phone options. Those things make everything quick and easy.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Travellers prefer the reassurance of another human being that everything is checked and copy that!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But with all this automation, the price of flying seems to be getting more expensive! Without humans working, that should be a huge reduction in personnel costs for airlines, but we the flying public don't see those savings. And the oil surcharge is going up again, just in time for summer!

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