The Airports Council International (ACI) — a global nonprofit organization that represents airports’ interests — recently published its annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Global Traveller Survey. As you might imagine, the 2020 edition of the ASQ produced unprecedented results and conclusions.
FeedbackNow by Forrester has a variety of clients, but we’re most established in the air travel industry, installed in major airports all over the world. When the ASQ came out, we were eager to see the results and relate back to the data that flows through our platform.
FeedbackNow data (total votes at all airports where we’re installed) revealed that, after a dramatic drop-off when the virus hit hard in the spring, travelers started to slowly and steadily return but then leveled off somewhat at around 15% of the previous year’s levels.
The ASQ survey showed that more than twice the number of people think they will travel less frequently (27%) in the future than those who think they will travel more frequently (12%). The remaining majority of 61% predicted that they will end up traveling about the same as they did pre-pandemic.
While the survey is a point-in-time view of traveler sentiment, it concluded that the desire to travel again soon is strong: “ … 48% of travellers considered themselves likely to travel within the next three months but, despite this eagerness to travel, the recovery is dependent on a multitude of factors.”
Those factors are key, and most of them change with time and external events. According to the ASQ survey, they include:
- Purpose of the travel (with business necessity leading the way at 59%).
- Mandated quarantine measures for the destination or for returning home (76% would not travel if a quarantine is needed).
- COVID-19 infection rates at the destination.
- Confidence in the health safety of the journey (one out of five travelers do not yet have confidence).
Of these factors, the one that jumps out to me the most is the last one — confidence in the health and safety of the journey — since it’s the one the airports and airlines actually have control over.
The survey identified 10 critical touchpoints in the traveler’s journey where health safety confidence must be met and highlighted the three areas — commercial, washrooms, and on the plane itself — where passengers would be most concerned about exposure to COVID-19 (see image).
Further, the ASQ survey showed that ensuring a touchless experience was one of the top four new health safety expectations passengers had (others included wearing masks, pre-flight COVID-19 testing, and the availability of hand sanitizing stations).
The survey was especially interesting to all of us at FeedbackNow, because we know how important high-volume, real-time feedback can be to getting these touchpoints right every minute, and with the recent launch of our new touchless FeedbackNow Smiley Boxes, we’re exactly what the industry needs to react to the conclusions of the ASQ survey.
Airports and travel companies need to know that the desire to travel may never return to 100%; capturing the market that remains will depend on going above and beyond to provide health safety comfort.
Forrester’s own research states, “Passenger demand for air travel remains lower than usual, forcing airlines to compete for a dwindling supply of flyers and reduce their flight schedules to be more efficient with their resources. Some are shifting policies to enhance passengers’ comfort with flying.”
As if all this wasn’t challenging enough, the travel industry will be making a new “first impression” with all these touchpoints, and we all know how many chances you get to do that. Getting it right the first time means getting it right in real time, which requires a massive operational shift and new (touchless) technologies. FeedbackNow’s vision is to help bring our clients to this new level of customer obsession.