Global passengers ready to spend more at airports says NCR survey

Opportunity for airports and airlines to increase retail sales
Passengers could spend more given the right environment
Passengers could spend more given the right environment

NCR announced the results of its global 2014 Traveler Experience Survey, examining the gaps and regional tendencies for consumer expectations of shopping experiences while traveling versus what is currently available to them.

Revenue from airline amenities and ancillary fees was expected to top $42 billion in 2013. Airports too, now derive up to half of their revenue from non-aero retail and concessions. Yet survey results reveal there may be an even larger opportunity for those travel providers that can deliver the kind of personalized, digital shopping experience consumers get from leading retailers. For example:

  • Thirty-eight percent of respondents are likely to purchase ancillary items like duty free, upgrades and WiFi, before even arriving at the airport via their mobile device.
  • Forty percent said they’d be more likely to purchase these kinds of items if offered via mobile or self-service kiosk versus interacting with an agent.
  • More than half (55 percent) said they’d be willing to provide personal info for targeted offers such as favorite airport restaurants or retailers.

“The survey shows passengers want to buy more items online, via mobile devices or kiosks when en route,” says Tyler Craig, vice president and general manager, NCR Travel. “Consumers are used to a seamless digital experience when they shop and they’d like a similar experience when they shop while traveling. A few airports globally have fully embraced omni-commerce strategies, but the vast majority could benefit from adopting the best practices we see every day in retail.”

Data from the survey also indicates marked differences in retail expectations by consumers depending on where they live.

  • An overwhelming majority of respondents in China (79 percent), the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) (83 percent) and Brazil (84 percent) would like to make airport purchases, such as parking, meals, souvenirs or spa services on their mobile or kiosk, while that number was slightly more than half in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
  • Offering self-service can also have a significant impact on customer loyalty in China, Brazil and U.A.E., where at least three in four respondents said they’d prefer an airline that allowed them to make ancillary purchases via mobile.
  • The survey found slight regional differences around the desire to make purchases from airport retailers and kiosks and have them shipped directly to avoid additional carry-ons. (U.S. 62 percent, U.K. 62 percent, Brazil 87 percent, Australia 71 percent, China 87 percent and U.A.E. 77 percent).

“Airports have clearly upped their game in terms of more diversity and the quality of their retail and dining offerings,” says Craig. “But a survey by Heathrow Airport in 2012 indicated only one in five travelers purchased a retail item in the airport. We think there is a unique opportunity for airports to garner a larger share of retail purchases if they can create a better experience for shoppers.”

The NCR Traveler Experience Survey is an annual online survey of approximately 6,000 adult consumers in the U.S., U.K., China, U.A.E., Australia and Brazil and was conducted in December 2013 by market research firm ORC International.