Travelers’ demand for self-service convenience is expanding beyond airline check-in. A survey by NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) finds that a growing number of consumers who now check in for flights online, at a kiosk or on their mobile device are looking for travel providers to help them address unanticipated changes to their itineraries, extending greater personal control and convenience throughout their journeys.
“Today’s consumer has become accustomed to self-check-in, but what happens if that flight is delayed or cancelled?” said Theresa Heinz, General Manager, NCR Travel and Gaming. “Travelers want to be able to quickly and easily respond to those unanticipated changes through self-service, ultimately mitigating any further disruption to their travel plans.”
The US Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that 18 percent of flights have been delayed and 2 percent have been cancelled in 2010 thus far, indicating travelers may experience some sort of disruption in approximately one in five trips. These figures bear out in the NCR survey, in which one in five (21 percent) US respondents indicated that a cancelled or postponed flight negatively impacted other segments of their travel experience, such as hotel or car rental reservations. Of those, 30 percent spent over an hour trying to accommodate the necessary changes and nearly 10 percent ended up missing a planned event as a result.
To ease this inconvenience, 80 percent of respondents would find it helpful if airlines gave them the control to search and select alternative flights in the case of delays and cancellations. With passenger self-service solutions deployed in more than 300 airports worldwide, NCR is expanding its software functionality to help airlines better address their customers’ preferences. For example, fee collection, change flight and premium seating modules allow passengers to more easily accommodate changes as they occur.
Furthermore, 73 percent of survey respondents said they would be more likely to choose a travel provider that offered them greater control over managing their entire travel experience through self-service, such as by facilitating searching for, securing, or making changes to flight, car rental and hotel reservations.
Results indicate that airports, too, can impact passenger loyalty by helping travelers make the most of their time while waiting to board a flight by employing self-service technology to download movies and music (24 percent), to receive retail and concession offers based on preference and location (33 percent), and to pass through security using a mobile boarding pass (48 percent).
“Consumers are demanding more control in determining how, when and where they interact,” said Heinz. “Travel companies that can provide a seamless and personalized experience that adapts to consumer presence and preference in the air, behind the wheel or at the guest room will ultimately become the preferred provider themselves.”