Will Beacons Disrupt the Airport Experience and usher in Real-Time Marketing?

From Simplifying ... by Shubhodeep Pal Welcome to the age of the Connected Traveller! With 3 out of 4 airport travelers carrying smartphones and many toting additional devices, connectivity is reaching new heights. With this evolution, the market to connect with travellers is hotter than ever. The Beacon is one tool that marketers are looking at to make that connection.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Amanda Anthony, CEO ofFlyinStyle, a mobile app designed to improve the airport experience with tips on shopping, dining, entertainment and more.

Welcome to the age of the Connected Traveller! With 3 out of 4 airport travelers carrying smartphones and many toting additional devices, connectivity is reaching new heights. With this evolution, the market to connect with travellers is hotter than ever. The challenge for airports and retailers to adapt to real-time marketing in this changing, mobile, global marketplace is no secret. The seeming gap between the immediate needs of travellers, the marketing efforts of airports and service providers may finally be bridged. The Beacon is one tool that marketers are looking at to make that connection. The Beacon became a buzzword in 2014 for technologists and marketers alike — but many are unclear what it can do and how it may impact business.

Time to Unlock the Potential

Major airports and airlines have announced beacon installations in recent months, sharing their vision for this new technology. American Airlines, for one, has been proactive, not only investing in a major installation at DFW, but engaging cutting edge partnerships to reimagine the passenger experience. AA even sponsored events like the Wearable World Hackathon in San Francisco in June to bring together top talent to foster new ideas. Travel retailers and brands are also keen to get in on the game. If you want to play, complete the following sentence: “We want to…

  • Interact with Passengers in Real Time, Relative to the Moment in the Journey
  • Offer Parking Reminders
  • Improve Wayfinding
  • Attract Passengers into stores
  • Share Interesting Facts and Exhibitions Exclusive to the airport
  • Direct Passengers to a Promotion in Store
  • Reward Loyalty for Shopping
  • React More Quickly to Long Lines, Reducing Wait Time
  • Ensure a Child Makes it Safely Through the Airport, Flying Alone
  • Track Pets Throughout the Trip
  • React to Delays and Issues with Real Time Incentives to the Passenger

Addressing the Challenges

These are just a sample of addressable problems using beacon technology; the possibilities are infinite. But success will rely on more than just hardware installation. Solid execution requires a holistic plan, a software platform including a backend and consumer facing technologies, digital content strategy, creative resources, training of airport personnel, consumer marketing, and collaboration with key stakeholders. And before a better brighter airport experience can take place, several questions are yet to be answered:

  • Will incorporating beacon technology into the budget and plans translate into tangible business growth?
  • What are the privacy concerns that must be addressed?
  • What kind of data can be tracked and who owns that data?
  • What will the adoption rates look like?
  • How will passengers react to engagement using this technology?

You are probably hearing your finance manager and legal counsel in your head now, telling you to slow down. But the marketer in you is getting excited and your mind is racing with ideas. After all, you need to improve the passenger experience in the airport while helping develop a holistic approach to digital content marketing, using the latest technologies. As more and more options enter the space, execution becomes complex. Technologies like beacons open up new possibilities in a one-to-one relationship with our consumers — the next generation of marketing is here! With any new technology there is a learning curve and an adoption rate. We are still very early in understanding what the true impact of these technologies will be, the pitfalls to avoid and the sweet spot we are all looking to find. One thing is clear: beacons are inspiring innovators to create solutions never seen before. The FlyInStyle team is flying with airports and the connected traveller to new horizons. Are you?