Dublin Airport: Innovating passenger experience through crisis
As part of our 10 opinions for 2021 report we interviewed Sinead Quish, Head of Consumer and Digital Marketing at Dublin Airport. Dublin Airport is the leading gateway into the Republic of Ireland, hosting +32 million passengers in 2019, with over 2,000 flights per week and direct connections to cities across Europe, the United Kingdom, United States, the Middle East and Asia. The airport is part of daa Group.
We work with Dublin Airport on their digital presence and their website is key to providing passengers with fast access to information.
Talking about digital, what was your biggest challenge in 2020? If there were no challenges, what were your biggest learnings?
Obviously, our biggest challenge in 2020 was the impact of COVID-19. The key role of Dublin Airport’s digital platforms, namely our website dublinairport.com, has been to keep people up-to-date with COVID-19 travel advice, and to reflect all changes in daily operations, from our flights, to ground transportation (buses and taxis) to food and beverage outlets as they happen, so that passengers have the most accurate information at their fingertips. Be it people who must travel and need essential information, such as COVID-19 testing facilities or the electronic Passenger Locator Form, to someone monitoring an arriving flight or for car parking information, dublinairport.com, as a mobile first designed website, has everything at their fingertips.
What we have also learned is how quickly a large volume of passenger queries can arrive. These include looking for COVID-19 travel advice, public health safety measures and COVID-19 testing in place at Dublin Airport or the passenger response to an announced flight service change. Therefore, we needed to develop additional digital tools to help us manage and answer these queries quickly.
We also saw a large increase in flight tracking on the website through the ‘pin this flight’ functionality in 2019 which inspired us to deliver a flight alerts system on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter. All dublinairport.com users can sign up to get the latest flight updates – be it gate number, delays, now boarding, final call etc. – on their social media or messaging app platforms of choice. With this, we also included a more ‘quick-serve’ tool to simultaneously answer the frequently asked questions (as above) at scale, using a web-based chat bot.
Where you are now, what do you think 2021 holds for you? In other words, what will your focus for 2021 be in terms of digital.
Dublinairport.com traffic, while down 65% on 2019, still has an average of 220,000 unique visitors and over 1-million page views per month. This makes it an important window into Dublin Airport for the Irish public and is their main platform to access accurate travel information. Our goal in 2021 is to continue to harness digital tools to deliver on passenger needs for accurate and timely flight information, travel services and COVID-19 travel safety measures. We are integrating walk time to gate into the flight information feed and alerts and Apple Maps have mapped Dublin Airport, so we are integrating this. We also have plans with the NTA to include real time bus departures from Dublin Airport for bus users. We hope that with the vaccination programme, alignment to the EU travel guidelines (Red, Amber, Green) and pre-travel COVID-19 testing, we can see a return to travel for the summer season 2021. When this happens, we will have the full armoury of digital information tools to make sure we are ready to help and reassure passengers.
What company/companies inspire you in terms of their digital achievements? Why do you find it inspiring, and what initiatives do they do?
Obviously COVID-19 has significantly impacted them, however for digital Ryanair and Airbnb are brands I greatly admire in Travel, and for financial services Revolut, as they are all great disruptors that have created new categories of business and business models. Ryanair democratised air travel through consistent low-cost air fares and Airbnb transformed the traditional experience of holiday and city break lodging through a global network of community hosts and curated ‘discovery’ travel experiences. I love that I can book a flight within less than 2 minutes on my Ryanair app. The app stores all my key information such as passport details, saving me precious time. The reward for me is the simplicity and speed of the digital experience and the very positive inflight experience too.
With Airbnb, I love how they have personalised the foreign travel experience, allowing people to discover and stay in cool neighbourhoods and communities with the guidance of a welcoming local host, a very different experience from the more conventional and formal hotel locations and experiences. I also admire the simplicity, the modernity but the solidity of the Airbnb business model, where the power of community ratings, reviews and management and great insurance allows for a consistently good experience for both host and visitor.
The last on my list is Revolut. Another disruptor that is changing the rules of banking and online banking. The ease and speed to create an account, access services and transfer money is fantastic when compared with older banking institutions.
Would you like to discuss your digital strategy or platform? Contact us today.