The role of airports in the modern business environment

Airport destination board

One of the biggest benefits that is cited about the modern technological era is that with cloud based software and digital communication, a growing number of people can work from anywhere. Teams are often comprised of people spread across the globe, using virtual workspaces to collaborate on projects, and there is less need to waste time, money and fossil fuels on the daily commute.

It seems counter intuitive, therefore, that in an age when business leaders can carry out most of their day to day work without having to leave their home, that international business travel is on the up.

The reason is that there are some circumstances in which only a face to face meeting will do, whether it is getting to know an important new client or visiting a site to discuss a project. The online world has led to more businesses than ever operating internationally, so when a face to face meeting is necessary, you are as likely to need to board a plane as to get in your car.

Evolving customer needs

One thing that is common across all markets in the modern age is increased competition. You might think that airports have a captive market, but with the expanded routes available from small regional airports, there is even choice and competition in this sector.

As such, airports are having to focus on critical customer experience metrics as much as any other business in order to optimise their share of the $750 billion global commercial airline industry. This is being reflected in the design and layout of modern airports, a trend that Lagan Construction Group, a company that has been involved in several high-profile airport infrastructure projects over recent years, has been quick to notice.

Differentiating factors

It is no longer enough to offer a duty free shop, a restaurant and a business lounge. In areas such as the South East, passengers have as broad a choice of airports as they do of airlines, and they are starting to become increasingly choosey. This give the airport a great opportunity to build a loyal customer base if it can adequately differentiate itself.

This might be through bespoke retail offerings, better entertainment and added services. Many are seeking to work more closely with airlines to create a seamless and joined up service offering to make the entire customer experience quicker, enjoyable and stress-free.

Added technology

Technology has as important a role to play in airports as it does in every other aspect of our lives. Automated systems at boarding gates and passport control reduce waiting times, while shared facilities with airlines provide better and clearer information to passengers and those waiting to meet family and friends at arrivals.

For overseas visitors who need to stay connected, free WiFi is also a huge draw. Most business travellers need to make calls as soon as they land, and if they can connect to the internet to use free channels such as Skype and WhatsApp, it saves the cost and inconvenience of dealing with international roaming.

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