The airport’s vision is ‘To deliver an airport experience that exceeds our customers’ expectations and digital is at the forefront of making that happen’.
Although Belfast City Airport has been named the UK and Ireland’s Most Convenient Airport, the challenge was to enhance this further. The IT team wanted to look beyond asking passengers to download extra proprietary software on their smartphones for flight information, airport offers and instructions. They felt a better way forward was to communicate through social media platforms they are already using and had an engaged following on.
Delivering this challenge meant addressing two key issues, the anxiety a journey can create for passengers and the communication of vital information in real-time.
Belfast City Airport was already using Azinq’s Airport Hive® product. When Belfast City discussed its vision with AirChat, a collaboration with Azinq was a logical progression. Due to their long relationship, focus on best practice and experience in simplifying and speeding up airport integration and configuration process, a perfect solution was developed.
Today’s traveller has the normal day of travel anxiety coupled with the additional requirements in a post-pandemic environment to contend with. To alleviate this, airports need to effectively communicate with passengers, however the passenger is anonymous to the airport until the point of check-in which makes personal communication pre-travel a challenge for them.
Traditional methods of communication, such as the flight information screens, are designed for the masses which leads to passengers spending time congregating under screens trying to identify their flight which in turn negatively impacts an effective and harmonious Departures Lounge experience. Alternatives lead to mass communication of irrelevant information, or an onerous process for the passenger, as they must download applications and provide a host of information.
Positive signs for continued growth of mobile and touchless technologies. As in 2019 and Q1 2020, the vast majority of passengers use technology to book their trips, with a growing proportion of passengers opting for mobile apps over web to do so (77% web and 8% mobile in 2019 shifting to 72% web and 20% mobile in 2022).
Source: SITA Passenger IT Insights 2022
For the airport, the major data challenge is opening up the mission critical database (AODB) to provide flight update data to an external app whilst ensuring no risk to system performance and the business operation. Also ensuring the data exchange between airport systems and the app are secure and separate and therefore not open to cyber-attacks.
The results can be found: Enhancing the passenger experience at George Best Belfast City Airport with real-time flight information updates within apps like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook Messenger. – AirChat, flight notifications and chatbot software