Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Self-service is the way forward

A Letter to the Editor:

The recent security threats at our airports brought into sharp focus the madness that ensues around holiday season up and down the country.

With the widespread availability of self-service check-in and check-in on-line, why is the greater British public still made to queue for hours adding to busy airports and compounding the security risk?

Self-service airline check-in, for example, costs up to a tenth of the traditional face to face model – prompting an increasing number of margin challenged airlines to encourage customers to adopt this approach.

Indeed, new US technology supports international check-ins, with terminals scanning passports prior to issuing boarding cards and luggage labels.

If the consumer – especially the queue loving British consumer – is to be encouraged to self-serve, organisations need to take a long term training stance towards encouraging adoption.

Organisations will need to invest in digital signage and dedicated queue busters to direct and encourage the consumer towards the kiosk – an approach that has underpinned the widespread US adoption levels.

It may go against the national grain but self-service is a global trend; failing to follow suit will fundamentally constrain competitive position.

Critically, in a highly competitive and difficult trading environment, the self-service model fundamentally changes the cost of sale.

It may be a difficult process to wean the UK public away from its addiction to queues but in pandering to this tradition, organisations are compromising their competitive position.

Queuing at our airports is no longer acceptable in the current security environment when we have the technology to avoid it.

Phil Hunter, event director, KioskComEurope


Travolution founder said...

Aha- all good points, but this topic cuts right to the quick of the online revolution. One may ask with equal validity why people continue to buy any mature online product from traditional channels- why people brave the supermarket on a Saturday- hell on earth- continually amazes me. However at the heart of this is the question 'how much responsibility is the customer prepared to take for the process?'- some customers are willing to take the whole reaponsibility, some none at all, and most a degree of responsibility. Some people are not prepared to take the responsibility for going through online check in- they want someone to ask them 'did you pack this bag yourself, etc, regardless of having to queue- some will self check-in for business travel, but when travelling as consumers, playing eye spy with the kids in the check-in queue is part of this different context. Whilst self-serve is a global phenomenon, even the most advanced models have to allow for cusatomer choice- Google ads for instance, the doyen of self serve- yet Google now have a large telesales team for customer who won't take responsibility for the process. Technology continues to make things simpler, yet human behaviour remains supremely complex.......

Travolution blogger said...

who is this "travolution founder" imposter?!

thanks for the comments though. :-)

SteveE said...

It's really about time the Agency world started providing self service kiosks in their stores (or in supermarkets etc) where prospective customers could have a look at holidays and print off electronic brochure pages.