According to Forrester Research, on average, US airlines are leaving $1.4 billion in annual revenue untapped by not improving their customer experience1. A key reason for this is that airlines naturally focus their efforts on services and products that meet their customers at airports and on flights. While the rationale behind this focus is clear, travel neither begins nor ends at the airport. Airlines need to address a critical gap in their travelers’ needs: the first and last mile.
All airline customers have a destination beyond the airport: They need to get to a specific location. A recent survey from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that 65% of passengers are willing to share information such as the address of their desired destination and the purpose of travel in order to speed up airport processing. In addition, 32% of travelers book their airport transportation together with their tickets2. This further strengthens the importance of ground transportation in the eyes of airlines’ customers. Airlines have an opportunity to address this by providing services to help travelers reach their final destination seamlessly. This is where Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions come in.
What is Mobility as a Service
According to MaaS Alliance, Mobility as a Service, or MaaS, is described as the integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. In other words, MaaS solutions aim to serve transport options (from trains to taxis, to electric scooters, car sharing and more) in a single, seamless interface or application. Today, more advanced solutions like Mobility Marketplaces are emerging in order to connect all the transportation ecosystem together in a holistic way.
In the big picture, MaaS is all about optimizing urban traffic, reducing congestion, and providing smarter and sustainable mobility solutions. While this may sound altruistic to businesses, MaaS also has a tangible impact on customers’ experience and satisfaction. These multimodal and integrated transportation solutions can be leveraged to improve business services by extending their offering.
Here are 5 concrete ways airlines can use MaaS to improve their customer experience:
1. Bundle Online Transportation
When travelers plan journeys, they need to book their flight on one website, look for directions to the hotel on another website, and only then, book the transportation from another site. MaaS solutions bridge together every part of a traveler’s journey to optimize his door-to-door experience.
Airlines can incorporate a mobility web widget on their website to enable customers to book their preferred ride to and from the airport while they are also reserving their flight. Integrating this kind of solution creates a holistic user experience. In addition to getting a better online experience, travelers also save time at the airport.
2. Provide Transportation Variety
While airports usually have a variety of transportation options, trying to find them with luggage in tow, is no mean feat. Services such as taxis, buses, and shuttles are usually located at different locations within the airport making it painful for customers to evaluate their options. Mobility Marketplaces, like HERE Mobility, provide travelers with digital tools to help them get from A to B the way they prefer. Each type of transportation has its own advantages, but the choice should always be in the hands of the customers – They know what they need best.
3. Loop in On-Site Transportation
Airlines need to also meet their customers at physical locations. For example, travel kiosks can be placed throughout airports, at the airline ticket counter or any other dedicated location. With kiosks, airlines can give travelers the ability to plan and book rides by themselves, 24/7, even when there’s no staff on-call.
In addition, airlines can also deliver VIP transportation services by appointing a member of staff, such as a concierge, to reserve rides as needed for customers. By incorporating these physical mobility services into their offerings, airlines not only help their customers with the first and last mile but also offer a more flexible experience on the ground.
4. Inform Customers in Real-Time
With smart mobility solutions, customers and airlines alike, can enjoy real-time updates regarding rides. This way, the airline can ensure that travelers reach their final destination. On the traveler side, real-time notifications on their personal devices create transparency and trust. Stepping blindly into an unknown city is a stressful experience as it is. Providing accurate and immediate information about transportation gives travelers the clarity they need – and expect.
5. Create Tailor-Made Experiences
The difference between mobility and smart mobility is the ability to learn and create tailor-made experiences. Just as airlines learn their customers’ preferences in the sky, they need to also learn their preferences regarding ground transportation to and from the airport.
If airlines can understand their customers’ transportation preferences, they’ll be able to anticipate their needs and to provide them with personalized door-to-door experiences.
In today’s technological environment, airlines have to offer complete and effortless transportation solutions to their clients. Travelers’ habits and expectations are evolving, and the race to create full door-to-door experiences has started. Who will be the first step out of the airports and own the full traveler journey? The answer is clear: the one who will go the extra mile and take advantage of advanced MaaS solutions.
Yaron Schechtman, Head Of Business Development, Here Mobility, HERE Mobility
Forrester, The Business Impact of Customer Experience, 2014
International Air Transport Association, Global Passenger Survey, 2018