Originally published January 25, 2020. Updated February 21, 2024
Airports have a data problem. There’s so much of it and little available to make sense of it. Different departments use their own systems to track and store it, but lack insight into what’s going on throughout the rest of the airport.
That doesn’t cut it when it comes to pleasing passengers who expect a fast, seamless process from curb to gate. Passenger satisfaction lives and dies by the minute. The longer passengers are forced to queue, the shorter their fuses. And when it comes to airport operations, the smallest glitch in the system can create a ripple effect that is felt throughout the entire airport.
That could be a staffing error, security line closure, unexpected passenger increase, or baggage misplacement that sends the entire process into disarray.
One of the most unique operational challenges that airports face is the relativity of every different process to others. Airport operations lack a clear linear flow of data when compared to a typical manufacturing or retail business. That’s because each data point might be impacted by another, which is impacted by another, which is impacted by another, all seemingly unrelated and scattered through the entire curb to gate process. The check-in process impacts the security process, which affects the shopping process and the gate entry process.
All of this data must be captured for reporting, making planning and BI systems game-changing tools in the industry. Historically, airport departments are almost exclusively silo-ed. Baggage doesn’t care about security performance. Security doesn’t care about retail performance. Each stakeholder cares exclusively for his or her own interests.
The bottom line is: the longer passengers wait in line and the more lines they encounter, the more negative their experience. The key to shortening queues is to getting every airport stakeholder on the same page, with the same goals in mind. That’s where analytics comes in.
The Seven Benefits of Analytics
There are seven distinct benefits that an analytics strategy will bring to an airport.
#1 Improved Operational Planning
A strong performance evaluation system forges the path for better operational planning. By standardized evaluation of processes, the steps for continuous improvement are clearer.
#2 Better Performance Monitoring
Without analytics, airports cannot use data to learn from their experiences. This makes evaluating performance a word-of-mouth guessing game. A BI and analytics system that is designed to capture the many facets of airport operations while adhering to the federal guidelines and security necessities of the industry brings performance evaluation to the forefront.
#3 Improved Staff Morale
A clear and regular performance monitoring system directly leads to improved staff morale. Every day is a learning experience for employees when they have straightforward directives, clear-cut goals, and understandable performance evaluations.
#4 Improved Security
The security process is rife with data. Closely tracking the false positives of each employee will signify problems and lead to better training and ultimately better performance. This makes the entire system safer for travelers and staff.
#5 Reduced Wait Time
Reducing the wait time lies in the ability to predict an airport’s flow. Many airports have a goal of moving passengers through from curb to gate within 30 minutes. Constant measuring and monitoring of KPIs will clearly tell you if you are meeting your marks for efficiency where they matter most to travelers.
#6 Improved Baggage Performance
A robust BI system will bridge the gap between the data collected for baggage and the data collected for flights, tying all the disparate systems together in a neat package of dashboards and analyses for easy consumption. Access to the full cycle of data informs managers of the rebuilding that must be done to improve a current baggage system.
#7 Improved Customer Satisfaction
Wait times, employee morale, and general organization have a direct impact on the traveler experience. If even one of these elements is off-target, traveler perception can take a dive. All of these metrics can improve with regular measuring and monitoring in the process of operational planning.
Download the guide today for an even deeper dive into how you can achieve the seven most important benefits of an analytics strategy. You’ll learn the most important KPIs and see how easy it should be to get all the information you need at a glance in dashboards and user-friendly data visualizations.