George Best Belfast City Airport wanted to provide a smoother and more pleasurable airport experience by delivering relevant information directly to passengers, at any time of day, via their preferred channel.
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.
The Business Challenge
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.
- AirChat’s AI data-driven technology empowers the airport to identify data niche groups of passengers and communicate relevant personalised information to the group.
- AirChat’s technology provides real-time flight information and answers the passenger’s queries using platforms that are already accessible to passengers via their mobile device, platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Messenger.
- Using AirChat the passenger no longer needs to find the information; the airport can inform passengers and provide them with the right information at the right time via their preferred channel, essentially creating a 24/7 customer service line
- The data sharing challenge was resolved through using Azinq’s Airport Hive® Airport API product.
- Airport Hive® Airport API provided a combined feed of real-time flight information from many sources available through a secure RESTful API.
- Belfast City Airport can now share real-time flight information updates fully aligned with the passenger information displays in the terminal using AirChat which ensures passenger trust in the data.
- AirChat also provides an additional channel for the airport to communicate targeted messages in support of travel products such as parking and lounge access, commercial initiatives, and onward travel discounts with selected partners.
- The Airport Hive® Airport API is cloud hosted in AWS which has stability, elasticity and durability built in by default. This mitigates the risk of any direct connection impacts on the core airport operational systems such as the AODB.
- Future proofing further digital initiatives for Belfast City Airport which can now deploy rapidly a modern, reusable API integration without the need for customised integrations being developed.
Passengers are used to a seamless, hassle-free experience at Belfast City Airport, the UK and Ireland’s most convenient airport, and AirChat simply adds to that enjoyable airport journey. Travellers love the availability and transparency of real-time flight notifications, allowing them to better plan their journeys, and appreciate having the choice of where and when to be informed of their flight status, ensuring they feel in control throughout their trip.
For more information on Belfast City Airport: https://www.belfastcityairport.com/
For more information on Airport Hive: https://azinq.com/airport-hive
For more information on AirChat: https://airchat.ai/