I am in Brussels today speaking at the SITA Air Transport Summit. My talk is part of session called “Getting ready for your digital traveler”. I will be speaking on Mobile based services in travel- where are we today ? Challenges and opportunities”.
I was fortunate to share a van ride this morning with Yemmi Agbebi, Director of Portfolio Marketing from SITA based in the UK. Yemmi was directly involved with the Bluetooth test at Manchester Airport. Essentially SITA working with the airport installed Bluetooth stations that enabled various services for travelers. Announcements are made every few minutes instructing travelers to go to a Bluetooth area and and agree to receive messages regarding their flight. Research showed that the average traveler checks the flight board 4-5 before going to the gate. By enabling the Bluetooth communication, travelers received information about their flight lessening the anxiety associated with the boarding process. The most interesting aspect of this test is the impact on airport stores. Once enable and accepted by the user, airport stores send electronic coupons with bar codes that offer discounts to items at the shops. So how did the test go? (note I am quoting these stats by memory so please treat them as estimates). Approximately 7.2 million passengers go through the Manchester airport on an annual basis. 42% of them enabled this Bluetooth connection. The average expenditure per passenger increased from approximately 12 BPS to 16 BPS. The general feedback has been very positive as customers appreciate the information about boarding and the discount offers from the airport merchants.
This is another example of how Europe is way ahead of the US in mobile technology. Considering the current economic pressure on airlines and airports, the Manchester mobile test proves that mobile marketing can have an impact on consumer behavior.