Airport Dimensions identifies passenger ‘tribes’ among airport shoppers

By Kristiane Sherry |

Six new passenger personas may be more useful to airports than the conventional ‘business’ and ‘consumer’ labels. Image: Airport Dimensions

New research from lounge operator Airport Dimensions has identified six passenger personas, or ‘tribes’, which detail how individuals engage with airports.

Grouped as Premiers, Affluents, Streamliners, Wayfinders, Aspiring and Explorers, each persona has reported different needs and satisfaction levels regarding airport experiences. 

These new personas move beyond the conventional labels applied to travellers, for example, ‘business’, ‘consumer’, ‘millennial’ and ‘boomer’.

While Airport Dimensions acknowledges these are useful, it says airports need to analyse their customers more deeply if they are to understand what they want from the airport experience.

Premiers account for 21% of the airport community, and are looking for the best an airport can offer. They are happy to spend more, and 87% say they are happy with their airport experiences.

Affluents represent 18% of airport travellers. They take a balanced approach to what they spend and the experiences they expect. 86% report being satisfied.

The six new airport tribes have different relationships to airport spending

For Streamliners, efficiency through the airport is key, and they are willing to pay more for these services. The group accounts for just 3% of travellers, and 79% said they felt satisfied.

Airport Dimensions: Many groups less willing to spend

The remaining three groups said they were less willing to spend in an airport, and said they felt the least satisfied. Wayfinders account for 11% of airport passengers. They look for low-cost utility, and less than half (47%) said they were happy. 

For the Aspiring group, which accounts for 17% of travellers, just over half (58%) are satisfied with their airport experiences. They want both utility and experience, but are less willing to send than the Streamliners. 

The largest group is the Explorers, which represents 29% of travellers. They are looking for low-budget experiences, and 62% say they are happy with their experience. 

The different personas use their time at the airport differently. Premiers will spend 15% of their journey shopping, compared to 10% of Wayfinders. Instead, Wayfinders will head straight to the gate and wait there for 21% of their airport time. Premiers like to cut it fine – they will wait at the gate for 8% of their time. 

Airports Dimensions data shows each tribe engages with airport services differently

Wayfinders and Premiers will spend 10% and 12% respectively of their airport time in lounges. 

The tribes are detailed a new report from Airport Dimensions called The Transforming Airport Revenue Landscape. Research was conducted in partnership with Dynata, which saw more than 8,500 travellers surveyed across different demographics and markets.  

A ‘sophisticated approach’ needed

“Airports must be more adroit at capturing and analysing data about their customers, in order to understand them and tailor the experience for the right customer at the right time,” said Stephen Hay, Global Strategy Director of Airport Dimensions.

“A business traveller on a Friday night may also be a traveller flying with their family on Saturday morning, so a sophisticated approach is required to understand their needs and wants.

“Differentiations based on age group or class of travel, for example, are of course still helpful. However, as norms continue to change post-pandemic, our definitions need to change too as boundaries blur. 

“By really understanding the passenger’s motivation on the day, the modern airport can improve the experience of the contemporary traveller, whoever they are, and drive new revenue.”

Earlier this month, Airport Dimensions released research finding which showed passengers have become “somewhat disenfranchised” with their airport relationships, with 12% saying they didn’t want one at all.


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