Rethinking airport transfers could drive revenue and loyalty

In an opinion from Timon Bock, the head of distribution partnerships at Blacklane, airlines are challenged to think about how ground transportation could serve their customers better

Airlines are dedicating teams and budgets to add airport transfers to their product offerings. At this stage, they are exploring how to integrate transfers into the traveller experience and make them part of their long-term brand and commercial strategy.

Our view at Blacklane is that airlines have two ways to view ground transportation, both of which can lead to distinct approaches and divergent product paths, and a different customer experience.

  1. Ground transportation is simply one of several ancillary products that fit into the airline’s product proposition. It’s a source of revenue with many potential partners and it’s based on low-cost ticket sales.
  2. A customer-centric perspective closes the missing link in the travel chain. Transfers enable airlines to offer door-to-door travel. Ultimately, it’s both about first benefiting travellers and second about the bottom line.

Let’s consider how this might play out in two possible scenarios relating for round-trip Dublin-Madrid flight on an airline’s website.

Scenario 1:  Here the booking confirmation page displays a banner promoting Madrid airport transfers. The traveller almost overlooks it because it resembles an online ad. After clicking, a new tab opens that looks like a ground transportation search engine. The only pre-populated field is the pickup location with the MAD airport code. The traveller returns to the flight confirmation page to get the date, time and flight number, and then adds the drop-off address to search for transfers.

The site, a ground transportation broker, returns 100 options: five pages with 20 different services per page. Trains, shuttle buses, public transportation, taxis and low-cost driver services fill the first three pages. Professional driver services appear at the end. Prices range from €5 to €360.

The traveller selects a service, and then enters the first name, last name, email address and mobile phone number all over again. Then the credit card number needs to be entered. Finally, the traveller completes the purchase and receives an email confirmation from the broker’s website.

Read rest of the article at Eye for Travel