Revealed: What most travellers want from airports is pretty simple

Jun 27, 2019
Holidaymakers still prefer human customer service over automation. Source: Getty

Despite technology continually improving and adapting, many travellers still prefer the human touch when it comes to their airport experience, a recent survey has revealed.

The survey by OAG — an air travel intelligence company based in the United Kingdom — of over 2,000 American travellers, found outside of ticketing and check-in, holidaymakers still prefer human customer service over automation for almost every other travel function.

This includes baggage processes (54 per cent), security (55 per cent), boarding (64 per cent), concierge (83 per cent) and in-flight services (80 per cent).

Meanwhile, only 19 per cent of travellers said they see value in interactive robots that provide information and concierge services. Comparatively, 40 per cent want more baggage loading zones to speed up security lines, 54 per cent would value in-airport, turn-by-turn directions for navigating terminals and gates, while 75 per cent want real-time updates on expected boarding times.

Vipul Nakum, CEO at OAG, said the market isn’t quite ready for a “full-fledged” automated airport experience, adding: “Although we expect that evolve over time, with tech eventually becoming the clear preference.

“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.”

The survey also revealed travellers don’t mind being tracked if it leads to a better experience, with nearly 60 per cent saying they would let airports track their location through a mobile or wearable device to redeploy staff to cut down on wait times.

Meanwhile, 54 per cent of millennials, 37 per cent of business travellers and 35 per cent of all travellers reported interest in self-checkout retail options at the airport.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you prefer human touch over automation?

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