Airport operators in the UK need to focus their attention on getting people onto their flights rather than trying to get them to go shopping, reveals research today (Monday 7 November) released by World Travel Market London.
When asked to identify one specific improvement they would like to see at the airport, the majority of responses related to the passenger handling functions. The strongest demand was for better and faster check-in options, identified by more than 30% of the sample as the top priority.
Other operational aspects of the airport experience on UK travellers’ improvement wishlist included better security (19%), better boarding (13%) and better baggage handling (9%).
In contrast, the experiential aspects were not highlighted to the same degree. Less than 6% of the sample called for better food and drink, with only one in fifty (2%) thinking airports could be improved with more shops.
Elsewhere, around 10% want to see cheaper parking options, with a similar proportion calling for either a better arrivals experience or improved departure lounges.
A break down of the sample by sex shows that the strongest demand for operational improvements comes from women. In total, 74% of women respondent want improvements in check-in, security, boarding and bags, compared with 70% of men.
On the other hand, male respondents were more demanding in terms of improving not only the food and drink offer but also the shopping opportunities.
Regionally, the strongest calls for better check-in options came from respondents in the North East; travellers from East England were the most vocal in calling for cheaper parking; residents of the East Midlands were the most interested in faster boarding options.
At the same time, the majority of respondents – 70% – accept that the current level of airport security is necessary, with only 14% thinking measures need to be reduced.
Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director, World Travel Market London, said:
“Airports are a necessary part of many outbound leisure trips. For many travellers, the airport experience does include getting something to eat or buying something you might have forgotten to pack.
“But our survey shows a clear demand from travellers for airport operators to get better at the functional aspects and to improve how quickly passengers and bags are checked in, how quick it is to get through security and how easily flights are boarded.”