An interview with Brian Roche, Director of Information Technology, Belfast City Airport and Paul Brugger, CEO AirChat. By Ross Falconer
Like any modern business, digital transformation is vital to Belfast City Airport, not only for effective operations on a day-to-day basis, but for futureproofing the organisation.
“At Belfast City Airport, we pride ourselves on offering choice and convenience to our passengers, and both customer care and customer experience are the catalyst behind everything that we do,” says Brian Roche, Director of Information Technology, Belfast City Airport. “Belfast City Airport recognises the opportunities that digital platforms, such as AirChat, present to achieve this and further improve the airport experience for passengers. Through partnering with AirChat, we add a further layer to our communications with our customers throughout the entire passenger journey, even before they arrive at the terminal. AirChat’s knowledge of the industry, coupled with its technical expertise, meant that the team quickly understood how Belfast City Airport would like to communicate with its passengers, now and in the future, as the partnership develops.”
AirChat will be providing a webchat service, real-time flight information and answering queries for Belfast City Airport passengers direct to their WiFi-enabled device via WhatsApp, Messenger and Twitter. “To aid a smooth and efficient operation the passenger needs to know, in a timely manner, when their flight is boarding and which gate to go to,” says Paul Brugger, CEO AirChat. “Typically, this means the flight information boards tend to be points of congestion and this problem will intensify once operational volumes increase. Our technology will help the airport manage social distancing by reducing the need for passengers to view the boards. Essentially, passengers can receive this information from anywhere.”
The airport can also define messages that are pushed at key times in the passenger journey, informing travellers about new procedures at the airport. “Uniquely, our intelligent technology differentiates the communication based on the ‘Passenger Persona’, so in real terms this means we can send different messages to departing versus arriving passengers,” Brugger explains. “Some of our existing clients are already pushing different COVID messages based on whether the passenger’s destination is within or outside the EU.”
Automation key to successful aviation restart
Belfast City Airport’s focus is on providing an airport experience that exceeds the expectations of its customers and this means harnessing the best tools to deliver the best customer service. “After extensive research and a competitive process for a web-based chatbot, we chose to partner with AirChat due to the value, industry knowledge, and omnichannel communication capability it guaranteed us,” says Roche.
Meanwhile, Brugger believes that the AirChat platform can really assist both the airport and its passengers as it prepares for a return to a period of significant growth. “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Belfast City Airport, primarily because of their focus and commitment to digital innovation, but also the airport is poised to significantly increase operations with new routes and airline partners recently announced,” Brugger comments.
Both Belfast City Airport and AirChat believe that automation is key to the success of an aviation restart. As passengers begin to take to the skies again, there will be greater expectation for digital touchpoints, contactless technologies, and increased communications throughout the passenger journey.
“Through AirChat, and other digital innovation projects, Belfast City Airport will be able to keep passengers informed from car to gate, which will in turn drive brand loyalty and help us achieve our main aim of delivering an airport experience that exceeds our customers’ expectations,” Roche concludes.