As it witnesses ever-increasing traveler numbers, Singapore Changi Airport is turning to IT. Not just to increase capacity and efficiency of passenger processing, but to engage its customers more personally and effectively, says the Airport’s EVP for Airport Management, Lye Teck Tan.

Tell us about your airport capacity and traveler experience?

The growth in traveler traffic in the Asia-Pacific region is set to continue.

Catering for more travelers requires that we increase our capacity and processing efficiency to ensure that we continue to deliver exceptional passenger experience. Our focus on some key technology developments will help with this.

Today, we are capable of handling 66 million passengers a year. In 2016 alone, we served 58.7 million passengers and we are fast approaching our maximum handling capacity. With the new Terminal 4 opening in 2017, we aim to increase Changi’s handling capacity to 82 million passengers a year.

However, we are not stopping there. We will have our third runway by 2020 and in the next 10 to 15 years, we will open Terminal 5, which will take us to an annual handling capacity of 135 million passengers.

But our investments are about much more than just indiscriminately adding ground floor area. In addition to building new terminals and runways, we are factoring in new IT and communication capabilities that would allow us to grow more sustainably, and at the same time, keeping our guests as our focal point.

So it’s as much about customer experience?

Singapore Changi Airport is about service from the heart. We constantly innovate and reinvent ourselves with the aim to provide the best possible experience to all our travelers and visitors.

Keeping our guests happy is increasingly becoming less about providing the standard airport facilities or basic efficient processes that travelers expect and more about the extra features that make their experiences unique, enjoyable and ultimately, memorable.

Our customers’ needs are changing rapidly and the ability to understand, anticipate and respond to their needs quickly is important. This is where technology comes in. It offers us the opportunity to engage our passengers, and to know and remember their preferences to deliver passenger journeys that are convenient and fun for them.

In terms of the time spent at the airport, there is only a very small window of opportunity in which airports are able to engage their passengers. So why not ensure they have the best experience possible?

How are you moving forward?

We truly need to start designing airport processes from a passenger’s perspective. There is a need for airlines and airports to collaborate in harmonizing and integrating functional processes. All these go towards raising the level of service that we can jointly deliver to passengers.

My hope is that we will reach a point where our airport partners, and we at Changi, collaborate hand in glove so that to the traveler it feels as though the seamless service they enjoy is all coming from the same company. This would be the ideal for all.

So personalization is top of mind for Changi?

Today’s customers are ‘non-stop customers’ who have access to an immense amount of information and are constantly reevaluating their options. It is important for airports to understand what passengers want and what would make a real difference to their travels.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information, having the ability to tailor simple messages for each traveler will make it more meaningful to them.

Travelers want a seamless service, when and where they need it. In addition, they want to be able to encounter new experiences along the way and share this with those they are connected to in their social media world. So, it is now up to airports to organize ourselves to cater to these types of travelers.

By making smart use of traveler data, airports can now create an individual experience for each traveler regardless of traveler numbers, providing a context-sensitive service at that particular moment in time when they’re on the move.

Lye Teck Tan, EVP for Airport Management, Singapore Changi Airport

 

So what is IT’s role in the passenger experience?

With connectivity infiltrating almost every area of our lives, we are all more knowledgeable now than ever before – thanks to the vast array of information available at our fingertips.

By making smart use of traveler data, airports can now create an individual experience for virtually each traveler regardless of traveler numbers, providing a context-sensitive service at that particular moment in time when they are on the move.

Given the rate of technological advancements, arranging driverless airport transport or notifying an airline concierge of your arrival through location-based applications, are just some of the many enhancements travelers can look forward to.

Whether it be pre-emptive notifications for travelers about security queues, or even location-aware notifications telling travelers of nearby specials or preferred items they have previously purchased – the possibilities are endless.

Final thoughts?

The customer remains the most important consideration of all and we need to constantly keep going back to what they want.

But it is never static – it is always changing. And the challenge we give to ourselves in this new digital space, is how do we establish meaningful long term relationship with the dynamic customer.

That said, in spite of the constant flux that the aviation industry is in, our basic tenet is simple – to create a Changi that every guest loves. This has not changed since we started in 1981. 

Feb 2017

Discover your traveler profile

Are you a ‘do-it-yourself tourist’ or someone who likes to travel in style? Do you plan carefully or leave things to chance?  Answer a few questions in the Travel Technology Discovery Quiz to learn your profile, and share on a world map to see how you compare.

Take the discovery quiz now