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Top Strategic Opportunities for Airlines in 2022

The effects of the pandemic are still reshaping air travel.  

While research confirms that international and domestic travel is recovering, leisure travel is rebounding more quickly than business. Passenger loyalty to airlines is down, and carriers are urgently looking to recapture this lost revenue. As passengers spend more time and money on personal travel than on work-related trips, airlines are pivoting to offer more flights to vacation hot spots, greater booking flexibility, and differentiated day-of-travel experiences to capture market share. 

Airlines will have three significant opportunities in 2022.  Specifically, to: 

1. Embrace a 360° approach to the day of travel 

2. Elevate the passenger experience end-to-end 

3. Increase awareness of airline ESG initiatives 

Focus on day of travel digital experiences that go beyond the mobile app

Leisure passengers replacing business customers means airlines are potentially serving “new” and possibly less loyal consumers. Historically, business fliers accepted higher travel costs; non-business passengers purchased according to price, or at least best value. Additionally, vacation destinations change, whereas work itineraries are often repetitive. These occasional leisure travelers are less likely to download the airline’s mobile app, which has historically been the #1 communication channel for airlines on the day of travel. In 2022, airline operators have an opportunity to expand their customer-facing communication beyond the app to offer memorable customer experiences to these less loyal fliers. 

For airlines, this means focusing on omnichannel efforts across web, email, SMS text, and dynamic airport and in-flight screens to deliver the 360° day of travel support to non-app users and drive brand loyalty among new passengers.  

Provide “premium” brand experiences to drive passenger loyalty 

International destinations and trendy vacation locals are welcoming visitors back at the perfect time. After months of working from home, people are treating themselves to more expensive trips and new adventures. U.S. carriers, including United, American, and Delta, are capitalizing on this consumer behavior by driving ancillary revenue by increasing premium services, including enriched digital experiences.   

Airlines can create superior services at scale by focusing on door-to-door passenger comfort and convenience. More specifically, operators need to remove the sticking points that frequently make air travel difficult, confusing, or uncomfortable: 

  • Put helpful travel information in front of passengers before departure. Helping people prepare by giving them mobile-friendly access to weather reports, local traffic issues, and security wait times reduces stress. 
  • Extend door-to-door support with in-app integrations to reserve airport parking in advance or book a rideshare for departure, arrival, or both! 
  • Make it easy for travelers to grab coffee or a meal without getting lost in the airport. Integrate concession discovery features to digital maps and order-ahead options into mobile apps. 
  • Make connections easier by displaying in-flight airport maps so passengers can plan their on-the-ground pit stops before landing. And in the mobile app, add personalized routes from the arrival gate to the next flight’s departure gate. 

Celebrate your ESG initiatives and wins with passengers 

Heightened awareness of corporate sustainability efforts is driving consumer purchasing towards brands with environmentally focused missions at an unprecedented rate. Airline leaders are meeting this challenge in various ways, including reducing single-use plastic during flights and experimenting with new technologies such as biofuels. They’re also aggressively working to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint and change the fact that 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. From airline-owned office buildings to below-the-wing operational centers, operators are committed to optimizing energy usage to minimize environmental impact.  

Airline communications teams expertly leverage marketing and public relations to showcase company strengths. Going forward, tracking and reporting their initiatives to achieve smarter, safer, and greener operations will be critical. While airline executives will need to prove compliance with mandated energy consumption and emissions guidelines, they’ll also want to celebrate these achievements with their passengers. 

Airlines are hubs for excellence and innovation. Atrius is uniquely positioned to support our industry partners with solutions that optimize energy performance, improve operations, and enhance personal experiences within the built environment. We’re working together to deliver rewarding passenger journeys in 2022 and beyond.   

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