“Most airports are conducting digital experiments, and many are putting in place long-term digital solutions. But few are undertaking the fundamental digital transformations that can resolve travelersâ€™ frustrations and improve airportsâ€™ operating efficiency.”
The best chance for operators to increase revenues is on the nonaeronautical side of the ledgerâ€”a move that will require strong partnerships with retailers and third-party technology and digital-service providers.
Digital and cloud-based tools can help airports create â€œvirtual capacityâ€ through dynamic decision making and resource optimization. By providing greater visibility and flexibility, these tools can help operators preempt delays and recover more swiftly from snafus caused by weather, mechanical breakdowns, and other events. They can also help increase the number of flights, the flow and processing of passengers through terminals, and overall facility management. This approach is less costly and timely than building new airports or expanding existing ones.
The survey uncovered five key areas that are very important to passengers but typically suffer from low levels of satisfaction.
The common denominator across most of these five areas is that airports cannot act alone. They will require the cooperation of airline partners, service providers, air traffic controllers, and other stakeholders.
Gate Holding Area. Passengers spend an average of 30 minutes at the gate, and they do not like itâ€”not just the wait but also the poor Wi-Fi connectivity and lack of flight updates
Security. Passengers want shorter lines and great visibility into the length of delays. Digital technologies can address both of these frustrations.
Retail Area. Leisure passengers are more likely than business travelers to spend time shopping at the commercial areas of airports, but leisure and business travelers tend to agree on the same service gaps, which all have digital solutions:
Bag Collection. Similar to the findings in several of the other areas, travelers want to spend less time waiting and have greater visibility into the next step of their journeyâ€”in this case, the arrival of their bags.
Arrival Immigration. Automation is already occurring at immigration lines, with select passengers scanning their passports or fingerprints.
Uber routinely frustrates regulators as much as it pleases consumers. It has fielded cease and desist orders from governments all over the world, often continuing operation even when ordered to stop.
Itâ€™s not because regulators were asleep at the switch. Itâ€™s not because regulators havenâ€™t been diligent in filing lawsuitsâ€”theyâ€™re filing plenty of lawsuits. But Uber is fighting back. Often the companyâ€™s strategy has been to delay regulatorsâ€™ every complaint, trying to get their service that much more entrenched so it will be harder for regulators to do anything about it.â€
The disadvantages of following rules are hardly unique to transportation network companies. â€œThis has been a problem throughout business history,â€
Edelman acknowledges that many existing transportation regulations may be outdated in the era of Uberâ€”not to mention other successful companies in the so-called sharing economy, such as the travel home-rental website Airbnb (currently valued at $25.5 billion). But he argues that itâ€™s dangerous to foster a corporate attitude that some rules were made to be broken.
â€œSuddenly entrepreneurship is not about who can build a better mousetrap, but who can better ignore the law and develop a corporate advantage for ignoring the law. So what advice do we give students, friends, and entrepreneurs about how they should proceed?â€