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Should Priority Pass Expand Beyond Lounge Access?

Priority Pass and Collinson Group

Priority Pass implemented a more streamlined website, logo and introduced new benefits to its members.

Priority Pass

Airline lounges have been used as a marketing tool since the late 1930s when the first one was opened by American Airlines (Insight – March 23, 2015).  Owned by Collinson Group, Priority Pass has been in operation for the past 23 years. It is a pioneer in building a network of lounges around the world which now spans to 160 countries and over 850 lounges worldwide.

Priority Pass Key Numbers

Over the past five years, as passenger experience expectations heightened, lounges are becoming overcrowded which resulted in airlines such as United Airlines ending its partnership with Priority Pass (News – April 16, 2015).  While the company continues to focus on its core product by seeking new partnerships (News – August 5, 2015) to refill this loss, it also recognized that there are business cases to expand into other parts of the passenger experience.

Sheryl Pflaum, Global Marketing Director at Priority Pass, said: “We asked our growing membership what they wanted to see from us and the result is a significant investment which exceeds the demanding expectations of our members, clients and partners.”

The company rolled out a new branding identity today which will be used for all future membership cards (check below) and in its communication.

New Priority Pass Select Membership Card
New Priority Pass Select Membership Card
Credit: Priority Pass

Sheryl Pflaum also added: “This is our broadest product improvement to date, with a brand new website, smartphone apps and rejuvenated brand, along with a product roadmap outlining continual product improvement.”

The company noted that members can expect to receive additional offers related to travel, golf and car rental in the future. While searching through its website on October 14, 2015, Experience The Skies did not find a list of what these offers may be. It is expected that they would be country or even city specific.

Analysis

Priority Pass currently operates a small niche in the passenger experience by offering travellers with access to worldwide lounges at the airport (pre-boarding). In some cases, access may also be given post travelling.

Priority Pass in Passenger Experience Pathway

Booking

With offers, Priority Pass can form new partnerships and extends members with discounts on other travel items such as car rentals and hotels prior to travel.

[Opportunity] Members should have the option to pay for lounge access in advance to airport arrival. This can help Priority Pass track the traffic ahead of time. In addition, its parent company Collinson Group offers other services such as VIP check in which Priority Pass members could benefit access to (perhaps at a discount).

At The Airport

In its latest application update on the iOS and Android platforms, travellers can now logged in, perform searches for the closest lounge and rate it.

Priority Pass Mobile Application Login Screen
Priority Pass Mobile Application Login Screen
Credit: Priority Pass (All Rights Reserved)
Priority Pass Mobile Application Lounge Search Screen
Priority Pass Mobile Application Lounge Search Screen
Credit: Priority Pass (All Rights Reserved)
Priority Pass Mobile Application Lounge Rating System
Priority Pass Mobile Application Lounge Rating System
Credit: Priority Pass (All Rights Reserved)
[Opportunity] As beacon technology begins to catch on with airlines and airports (Insight – August 13, 2015), Priority Pass should consider working with lounge operators and airports to build wayfinding into the mobile applications. This will greatly improve passenger experience in locating lounges in unfamiliar settings.

In addition, Priority Pass can expand beyond lounges and into access to other spaces such as restaurants, spa services and duty free shopping which its demographics would enjoy if they have more time at the airport. This will also increase coverage at airports where lounge access deals have not been established.

On Board

Beyond searching for lounge access, passengers currently would not have a reason to interact with Priority Pass while on board.

[Opportunity] As WiFi access becomes a more common place (for example, Emirates provides 500mb of data for $1 for long haul passengers), the company should use this time to meet members’ other travel needs in different phases. The first may be in the form of helping members book arrival services, car rental and hotels. The next phase may be to partner with local companies to offer travel experiences at a discount.

Post Travel

Previously, after travel is completed, Priority Pass does not have any interaction with passengers. This is changing the introduction of a rating system with the mobile application. Feedback plays a big role in determining whether Priority Pass should extend or terminate various partnerships. To collect a better set of data, the company should consider building a reward system to encourage participation. As an industry pioneer and expert, the company should initiate an award system to celebrate achievements in lounge experience.

 

Other

Priority Pass has done extremely well in the lounge access space since inception 23 years ago.  The next level of success can be attained through participation in the passenger experience over the entire course of the travel journey. Given its parent company is in the loyalty and lifestyle benefits space, Priority Pass can use the expertise to reach beyond its niche and occupy a bigger space.

2 thoughts on “Should Priority Pass Expand Beyond Lounge Access?

  1. Do I have to book a lounge or just show up at the lounge with my priority pass once I receive it in the mail

    1. You don’t have to book ahead of time in most cases. Just visit the designated lounge or restaurant in person, show the attendant your Priority Pass card and go from there.

      At some locations, like the No.1 Lounge at London Heathrow and London Gatwick, it might be worthwhile to reserve access as they might turn away cardholders during high traffic.

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