Individual airports, even some of the largest in the world, have consistently had trouble getting users to download and use their apps. It seems impractical for frequent travelers to download a different app for each airport they pass through, considering that some of the most vital features – opening boarding passes and viewing frequent flyer accounts – are available only on airline apps.
There is talk of creating one, all encompassing app to cater to all the world’s airports. FLIO might be the answer. The iOS app, launched in August 2015, made content for over 200 international airports available to travelers, with special features like automatic, free Wi-Fi connection. The app was launched for Android in January 2016, widening its scope to millions of travelers.
Stephan Uhrenbacher, founder of FLIO, explained, “As a business man I have always found airports fascinating, as the commercial opportunities are so amazing and at the same time as a passenger, and I am a a frequent flyer, I have almost always found them to be a frustrating and stressful experience.” Uhrenbacher hopes his app can bring to light all that airports offer to increase the traveler’s experience.
“The defining moment that finally prompted me to actually go forward with FLIO was when I began to discover that even the largest airports don’t have enough leverage with users to build a compelling app that a user will download. Nobody wants more than one airport app,” Uhrenbacher added.
FLIO’s ultimate goal is to simplify the airport experience. The app displays real-time arrivals and departures, live security wait times, where to find electronic charging stations, and tips for booking onward travel. The app also has a commercial component, offering discounts on food and beverage, duty-free shopping, and lounge access and participating airports.
So, why would airports willingly partner with FLIO, the main source of competition for their own apps? Uhrenbacher reports that the conversations he has had with airport IT teams has changed drastically. Many teams first saw FLIO as unnecessary and competitive, but they have come to see that the help will enhance their airports’ reputations as the app helps travelers have a more enjoyable and smoother airport experience.
The app also promotes collaboration and data sharing among airports, which are known for keeping every bit of information under lock and key. Uhrenbacher said, “Security wait times are being protected like state secrets. Belt numbers for baggage seem impossible to get to. Everyone is protecting their data. But if you really ask airports and retailers what they know about their passengers, it is in reality much less than they would like it to be.”
For FLIO, the biggest hurdle in partnering with airports will be overcoming the reluctance to share data. Uhrenbacher is very clear in that he does not see FLIO as being in direct competition with airport or airline apps, but believes it is the future for seamless travel experiences for passengers. Airports must evolve if they wish to remain relevant in the travel industry. [Click Here]
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