Glasgow Airport sharpens retail strategy with automated offers on social media channels

By BizTweet

Glasgow Airport has upgraded the flight updates to travellers who opt-in to its automated service with contextualised and personalised retail offers for shops and concessions.

The airport opted to automate its flight updates on Twitter and Facebook using BizTweet as part of its social media work tools.

“Direct replies and comments are automated by BizTweet,” explains Fraser Ralston, Digital Manager, Glasgow Airport. “I installed Social Studio by Sales Force so my customer service team can reply and delegate posts to the correct individuals across the organisation. We used to use Tweet Deck and Hootsuite, but they weren’t advanced enough to create customer cases and pass this through to Sales Force.”

The flight-update automated service is weaved-in to the airport’s own organic content, with flight updates serving the needs of individual travellers immediately and organic content designed to raise awareness of the airport brand, with a voice that Ralston describes as “bright” and “fresh”.

“We do poke fun at ourselves given we are ‘Glaswegian’, but for the flight updates we keep this factual, so our customers get the information as quickly as possible,” he says.

Glasgow Airport has opted to automate its flight updates on Twitter and Facebook using BizTweet as part of its social media work tools.

While flight updates are more direct, Glasgow Airport found a fresh way to make them relevant to passengers, with targeted, personalised offers.

“As part of the flight information supplied, we took the decision to send retail messaging to our customers. The deals created are targeted at the flight IATA code which we collect when the customer signs up using our website and consents to marketing. We did this to provide contextual marketing to our passengers,” Ralston explains. “Based on the IATA code we allocate deals and serve them contextually. This means, for example, we can target early morning business passengers with a premium breakfast offer, while our early morning leisure passengers are served a family-friendly food-based deal.”

Ralston says that Glasgow is still in the early stages of rolling out automated personalised retail messaging and plans to add new features.

“We’re about to roll out more adverts to different IATA codes ready for the October week peak,” he says. “We want to roll out more niche messages based on the IATA code.”

Paul Brugger, CEO of BizTweet, says that BizTweet also allows for some location-specific messaging, which would ensure the retail messaging is not only relevant but also actionable.

“This is really dependent on the platforms and the data we have access to,” he says. “Using Twitter as an example, we can use location but only a small percentage of users have this function enabled. What we can do is make some assumptions in that we know when a passenger needs to check-in, we know the security processing times, and we know when the passenger has to be at the gate. As an example, Dubai Airport push different commercial messages based on the terminal/concourse the flight is departing from. It makes the offer more relevant to the passenger. There would be nothing worse than receiving a great offer only to find out it was for a concession in a different terminal. Another example is at Melbourne Airport where we notify the passenger of the security processing times in advance – this is only for international travellers. We have recently performed a successful proof of concept integrating BizTweet with technology that will provide the exact location, so it will be very interesting to see how airports use this information.”

Airports have the flexibility to experiment with a variety of personalised messaging, programmed to best suit their business goals and the needs of their guests.

“As part of the hyper-personalisation, another feature of BizTweet is communicating in the passenger native tongue,” Brugger says. “All our Middle East airports communicate to their passengers in English and Arabic, Isavia communicates in Icelandic and English, and Sydney Airport communicates in 41 different languages. These hyper-personalised, multi-lingual, real-time communications are on Twitter, Facebook and WeChat.”

Knowing when and how to reach out to consumers and getting the right message out to them at the right time can have a significant impact on purchasing behaviour. As Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of travel retail consultancy m1nd-set reports in a recent insights brief: “From the first encounter with a brand until the moment of purchase, it’s estimated that consumers come into contact with or ‘touch’ the brand around 60 times. These touchpoints range from traditional media advertising, to websites, social media, in-store communications including staff interaction, as well as bloggers and vloggers, mobile push messages and augmented reality digital display technology. The speed at which these various touchpoints are developed and are evolving means it is increasingly challenging to remain present across them all and relevant in the eyes of the consumer, millennial consumers in particular, who are typically the early adopters.”

Mohn adds: “Our research shows that the more frequent and more positive the touchpoints, the higher the propensity to engage with and convert the consumer into a shopper. The fast pace of technology means that the cost of applications such as augmented reality and virtual reality are falling and potential returns on investment increasing. Analytics and artificial intelligence are commonplace among marketers, especially in the travel and tourism sector, with airlines, online travel agencies, hotel groups and booking sites all investing heavily into these technologies, not only to better serve their customers, but also better predict their needs and desires.”

A recent survey conducted by m1nd-set of international travellers across all world regions to measure the impact of different touchpoints on their intent to visit airport shops and their purchasing behaviour reveals that digital touchpoints are particularly effective. m1nd-set categorised these as ‘online’ media, and includes social messaging: “Online media, which includes websites that consumers visited while booking their trip and advertising seen on airline or travel agency websites as well as advertising on other websites, advertising or information on the websites or smartphone mobile apps of the airport duty free shops, downtown shops and the brands websites and mobile apps, social media adverts or posts and specialised blogs and websites.”

While ‘online’ digital touchpoints boost all retail results on pre-trip touchpoints, they were most dramatic in boosting the likelihood to buy by 106%; compared to the 84% boost from the second highest touchpoint – billboards and posters. Online media also has the greatest impact on the total amount spent.

BizTweet has focused on facilitating creative applications of AI-powered, personalised messaging, like Glasgow’s retail offers.

“We have intentionally made the implementation as simple as possible,” Brugger says. “We perform the initial configuration on behalf of the airport, based on their requirements, and then the airport has access to our user interface to make changes as their requirements evolve. Some of our clients use our hyper-personalised technology for customer service information and some use it for promotions; each airport will have their own strategy and different level of personalisation.”

Ralston believes that digitalisation and automation of messaging has become a basic requirement for airports to provide quality service to their guests.

“Automation has saved countless hours of manual work to update passengers. In my view, it’s a basic requirement for all 21st century airports,” Ralston says. “Invest in your customers,” Ralston says he would advise his peers. “Provide them information as and when they need it. Implement systems that update them, not them coming to you for flight updates. Use digital to make the travel experience frictionless, every time.”

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