Last week AeroParker conducted an interview with Andrew Cornish, Non-Executive Director of AeroParker, a former member of the Group Board of Manchester Airport Group, and ex Managing Director of Manchester Airport. Responsible for one of the largest UK airports, we sat down to talk revenue and the future opportunities for airports.
- Do you believe that social networks are a great influence on passengers for airports?
Yes, I think social networks are a huge influence on all or lives. The speed of the growth of Twitter and Facebook is incredible, and keenly adopted for people who are on the move. Everyone has their own preference but each network provides a great opportunity for business. It’s a different way of communicating with people, and airports are embracing it. It’s a form of customer service, an element that is crucial to airports and I think they must be seen reacting to both the good and bad customer experiences.
- At your airport, which ancillary product generated most non aeronautical revenue?
Car parking is certainly one of the leading contributors to non-aeronautical revenue, but perhaps more importantly it’s an area that has some of the largest potential when it comes to revenue growth and improved customer experience. The scale of the opportunities with airport car parking is enormous. There are a lot of people making money within the parking industry who aren’t airport operators, airlines or airports, and in some cases (not all) casting a poor image on parking at or close to an airport.
- What/who are the main competitors in regards to the number of car park bookings at an airport?
You have the obvious competitors of off airport parking operators but then you also have public transport and the accessibility of drop off points at the airport for friends, families and taxis to use. There will always be competition and that’s healthy for all concerned, but the airport operator has the ability to see and manage the whole picture.
- Were you aware of booking processes increasing on mobile phones in your years as airport manager?
In my time as MD, I was aware of changes not just to the car parking offering but in particular how it was being booked. What did surprise me was the speed of change and the willingness of customers to adopt new ways of booking as well as their increasing expectations of customer service both on websites and at the airports themselves.
- Roughly what percentage of customer data do you think airports hold in comparison to the information the airlines have access to?
Well we know airlines have 100%. Airports will vary but typically it will be a low 10% or less, although at Manchester it was considerably higher, something that was essential for the airports ongoing development.
- Do you believe customer service should be the number one priority for airports?
The number one priority at airports will always be safety! However, I think customer service is growing. Airports historically have been very operationally driven. This is not a question of either/or. Airports need to continually drive operational excellence, BUT they also need to put the customer at the heart of everything they do. Ironically both done in harmony compliment each other.
- Do you think creating easier processes at the airport is one of the major concerns for improving the airport experience?
Certainly. Coming to the airport can be quite a daunting experience for passengers so you have to make it as simple as possible for them, and this should be reiterated in every process even before arriving at the airport such as when pre booking airport car parking. People are less likely to spend money on non-aeronautical products such as food and beverage if their experience hasn’t been a pleasant one. Airport lounges are a great way of influencing a better experience and I believe are amazing value for money, at around £20.
- How did your airport best generate customer relationships in recent years? E.g. email marketing, social networking. Which was the most successful method?
I would say the most effective now is a combination of email marketing and social networking. But in terms of customer relationships you have GOT to deliver what you promise, hence the personal interaction at the airport can be the make or break for the overall experience.
- Do you believe engaging with customers before and after they travel is a vital step to increasing non-aeronautical revenue?
Absolutely! It needs to be appropriate, it needs to be relevant. But yes, people are definitely open to this these days, especially when it comes to appropriate offers and promotions.
- Do you believe a pre-book system is vital for both large and small airports offering a variation of third party ancillaries?
It’s an opportunity. If the market exists then it doesn’t matter what size airport.
AeroParker is trusted online and mobile software offering airports a channel to significantly increase non aeronautical revenues through prebook parking and ancillary sales as well as a simple way to capture data for customer relationship development and commercial gain. The software has been written and is wholly owned by KMP Associates Limited t/a KMP Digitata. It has been in service for 10 years and is currently serving 5 UK airports and several white label parking products for airlines including Monarch and BMI Baby.