Forget about queues, delayed flights and lost luggage, more than half (53%) of the frequent travelers polled in a study, published today by Priority Pass, the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program, agree that the airport is something to be enjoyed, with 56% admitting that they would be encouraged to arrive at the airport early to take advantage of duty free and shopping discounts. The study of almost 3,000 respondents in the UK, UAE, USA, Germany, France, Singapore and Hong Kong reveals unusually positive attitudes when it comes to the airport experience.
Retail therapy at the airport
The Priority Pass Airport Experience Survey sheds new light on the behaviours of consumers at the airport. Two thirds of respondents (64%) agreed that they like to access a bargain at the airport with 35% looking for something luxurious that they would not ordinarily buy. The latter reinforces previous identification of an emerging group of travelers, ‘The Conspicuous Consumer’, keen to show their status, seeking luxury at affordable prices and keen to share their exclusive experiences with friends.
Stephen Simpson, Global Marketing Director for Priority Pass, part of Collinson Group commented: “We are witnessing an important shift in mind-set when it comes to the airport experience and it is clear that today’s frequent flyers no longer view themselves as passengers merely transiting the airport but as consumers seeking more rewarding travel journeys. In order to address this, Priority Pass has developed a range of offers which extends its lounge access program to include other benefits to improve the airport experience. We are working to extend these benefits further to make every aspect of the airport experience easier and more enjoyable for our Members.”
The Airport lounge as a sanctuary
The airport does not simply provide an opportune moment for last minute shopping; for business flyers it has become a sanctuary ahead of a long flight thanks to the convenience of the airport lounge. Nearly two thirds (59%) of frequent business flyers consider access to a premium airport lounge to be an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor when selecting an airport, with 40% admitting to going straight to the lounge and avoiding the shops altogether.
Simpson adds: “An increasing number of organisations are starting to recognise the value that can be gained if the experience of flying for business is not unduly stressful. Our research found that 51% of frequent business flyers actively enjoy the airport experience. This is a high percentage when you consider the fact that the business flyer is traveling for work purposes and does not have the relaxation of a typical leisure trip to look forward to on arrival. The airport lounge clearly has an important role to play here, offering a rare moment of tranquillity or the ability to stay connected in a peaceful and convenient environment.”
The rise of the digital flyer
Separate research carried out by Priority Pass surveyed the world’s most affluent consumers and confirmed the rise of the ‘digital’ flyer. Half of European travelers (50%) believe that digital boarding passes and e-tickets make the airport experience much easier, with 24% of travelers using airport mobile apps; a figure that rises to 41% of frequent business flyers. There is clearly a growing impetus to provide a seamless digital experience at airports, driving new levels of customer service, while reducing the stress of travel and providing a more personalized and intuitive passenger experience. Last October, as part of its brand refresh, Priority Pass unveiled a Digital Membership Card for simple, speedy access to most lounges in the program using their smartphone or tablet, in order to meet the needs of this audience. The Conspicuous Consumer also expects to be ‘always on’ and able to take advantage of offers, exclusive benefits and share their travel experiences via social media.