A new demographic in airports, is the world ready for it?

The number of air passengers will increase greatly in the next few years and create undue demand for airports. Are the airlines and airports all over the world ready for this new target market segment?

China is expected to become the largest aviation market by 2022 according to IATA. The Chinese, Indian and Indonesian markets combined will contribute to a 1.5 billion increase in the number of passengers by 2036. The business focus will undoubtedly shift towards this vast Asian market as a result of its rapid pace of growth.

Chinese socio-demographic differences in food habits and preferences must be taken into consideration to be able to capture that market segment. Adapting the ancillary services will generate new revenue streams for airlines. If they respond adequately to this new demand, it will also result in an important increase in customer loyalty.

Experience is the foremost priority for Chinese tourists. Price is not a decisive factor when choosing travel destinations or tourist attractions.” Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trends, 2017

Their Expectations Are High.

In terms of customer service and quality of the travel experience, airports must be quick on their feet to respond to the demand. Airlines are required to be informed about the unique preferences of this demographic and collaborate with experts in creative thinking and design. Transforming airport lounges to harmonize with this Asian market will be essential. For example, assuming their liking for a specific complimentary food, drinks and ancillary services would be a fatal mistake. This population has a different lifestyle and therefore conducting market research is necessary before creating the perfect tailored lounge service.

According to the International Association of Tour Managers, Chinese tourists made 131 million overseas trips in 2017, an increase of 7% from 2016. Chinese tourists surveyed visited 2.1 countries or regions in 2016-2017 on average and are expected to visit an average of 2.8 in 2018. Chinese tourists exhibit stronger purchasing power than non-Chinese tourists, with the former spending an average of US $762 per person versus an average of US$486 for Non-Chinese. The Chinese are seeking a more balanced life where health, family, and experiences take priority. The popularity of international travel is astounding among Chinese consumers. Meaning that all international airports need to accommodate those guests accordingly,

North American, European, Asian, African and Australian Airlines can altogether benefit from this trend if they leveraged it correctly.

Chinese consumers also reinforce family ties through travel: 74% of consumers say it helps them to better connect with family, and 45% of international trips were taken with family in 2015, compared with 39% in 2012. That being said, airport lounges should welcome families as much as they welcome business travellers, they simply need to have an impeccable organization to make everyone’s experience seamless.

More than 70 million Chinese consumers travelled overseas in 2015, making 1.5 trips on average, and shopping is integral to this experience. 80% of consumers have made overseas purchases, and nearly 30% actually base their choice of a travel destination on shopping opportunities. Among international travellers, around half of their watch and handbag purchases are made overseas, while apparel and cosmetics are the most frequently purchased categories. Luxury shopping is a new trend in airports, hence the reason to leverage that opportunity. (McKinsey’s 2016 China consumer report, The Modernization of the Chinese Consumer)

With more passengers passing throughout the airports, it will create long waiting times everywhere. Hence there is a need for a device that can break up the queue and facilitate the entry of guests into the airport lounges.

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By Cezara Olteanu

Cezara Olteanu is a Marketing Coordinator in Montreal, Canada. After her studies at Concordia University in Marketing, she joined Information Engineering Group (IEG), an IT company that works with airports and airlines. She loves travelling and visiting her hometown in Fagaras, Romania where she was born. When she isn’t working, she enjoys baking, dancing and creating creative content for her social media.

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