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Digitisation and data – developing personalised travel experiences to enhance customer satisfaction

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At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 the number of passengers at Changi Airport Group’s (CAG) Singapore hub decreased by a massive 98% in a matter of weeks.

Governments all over the world were also starting to impose travel restrictions and requiring additional travel documents from travellers. CAG had been an early adopter of technology and now needed to use its platforms to support new, resilient solutions to resolve resulting travel challenges.  

Because CAG had migrated to a single enterprise data hub on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2018, the company had the agile development environment necessary to adapt to changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using this solution, CAG developed valuable applications to meet public health regulations, protect passenger safety, and streamline the airport experience.

Speeding up the development cycle for customer-centric products

CAG seeks to use customer-centric technology, in line with its focus on customer experience. “With everything going digital, we’re looking to be more agile when it comes to delivering customer-focused products while still honouring our core obligations to safety and security”, says Jeffrey Loke, senior vice president of CAG.

Before 2018 it took six months for CAG to develop an application after it made a heavy initial technology investment. Looking to increase the pace of its development cycle, CAG launched a cloud-native Digital, Innovations, Ventures, and Analytics (DIVA) digital factory through the support of AWS Partner Accenture that year.

“The two initiators were digitisation and data”, says Mr Loke. “We were looking to consolidate the information we collect and convert it into insights that could create value. And time to market was key. We wanted to experiment faster – to try new things before we invested heavily in them.”

Using serverless technology and data insights to improve customer experience

While developing its DIVA digital factory, CAG wanted to move away from server-based technologies so that it could increase its speed of innovation. Using servers would slow down the project and CAG’s future initiatives due to the time required to procure and maintain them.

Instead of relying on server-based technology, CAG used AWS Lambda – a serverless, event-driven computer service that lets developers run code for virtually any type of application or backend service without provisioning or managing servers – to power the DIVA digital factory.

Data hub supports experimentation with different customer-centric services

By embracing a serverless development environment and bringing its data into a single enterprise data hub, CAG can experiment with different customer-centric services quickly and cost-effectively.

“The idea was to identify customer pain points and create quick solutions”, says Mr Loke. “Then we would get customer feedback and improve the product – all in a four-week development cycle. Improving access to all the necessary data helped us connect the dots between two different data sources and glean the insights needed to create products quickly.”

Pivoting to meet global challenges and support passenger safety

Strict travel requirements by various countries went into effect following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CAG quickly realised that it needed to support travellers in complying with new regulations and help them feel safe during their travels. Using its DIVA environment, the group quickly built innovative, high-quality solutions to meet these challenges.

To provide a one-stop portal for all passengers arriving at Singapore Changi Airport, CAG built a safe travel concierge application that provides users with a checklist of all Singapore’s entry requirements.

Using this solution, passengers can stay updated on evolving health and immigration restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, avoiding travel interruptions. They can also prebook on-arrival rapid COVID-19 tests, which are required by the Singapore government for passengers arriving from certain countries.

Scheduling check-in and security screenings and cleaning protocols

CAG also developed ChangiQ, an application that departing passengers can use to schedule their check-in and security screenings before their flights. The group uses this scheduling tool to facilitate social distancing and crowd management protocols, supporting passenger safety.

Singapore Changi Airport cleaning staff also use Where2Clean, an application that provides a list of gate hold rooms available for cleaning and uses near-real-time flight data to assess room availability between flights. Using this solution, cleaning supervisors can better plan their staffing needs for the more than 50 gate hold rooms spread across terminals.

As a result, the team was able to switch from schedule-based to on-demand cleaning, easing staff workloads.

Unlocking the potential of advanced analytics capabilities

Using its serverless, cloud-native DIVA factory, CAG developed innovative solutions to support travellers during the COVID-19 pandemic and improve operational processes within the airport environment.

The group is eager to become even more agile and build a resilient, future-ready workforce by helping its employees further strengthen their digital skills. In the future, CAG plans to expand its enterprise data hub and use artificial intelligence to glean stronger insights to build new applications.

With its focus on using innovative technology to improve customer satisfaction, CAG will continue to analyse data, identify customer pain points, and experiment with new products to enhance the customer experience.

“It’s all about developing a personalised travel experience to enhance customer satisfaction and finding new opportunities for revenue”, says Mr Loke. “This is only possible if you have the right information to serve the customers at the right time – and this is where DIVA is a big help.”