Houston Airport System's New Mobile-Responsive Website

Customer Service Technology Innovation

Houston Airports’ new mobile-responsive website, fly2houston.com, was designed from scratch for passengers at IAH (George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 43 million per year) and HOU (William P. Hobby Airport, 12 million per year). It offers 5 passenger journeys and airport overviews:

• Depart
• Arrive
• Connect (IAH: 48% connecting pax; HOU: 26% connecting pax)
• Pick-Up (31% at IAH, 23% at HOU)
• Drop-Off (27% at IAH, 20% at HOU)
• Overview

Passenger-centric features:
• Live TSA wait times;
• Parking availability;
• Flight Search directly accesses the in-airport Flight Information Display System--information provided is the most current available.
• In Flight Search, the website automatically displays 3 Dine and 3 Shop options near one’s gate. Kid-friendly, gluten-free, local, vegetarian and vegan options are identified as well as price levels.
• The Connect journey adds 3 nearby Art options to the Dine and Shop options displayed. The airport’s extensive art collection is fully-documented and mapped.
• Printable and downloadable maps for every terminal/level, with concessions, services and ground transportation locations shown.

The “Doing Business” function from the old website was split out and given a separate url (houstonairports.biz) so that the new website could keep its laser focus on passenger needs.

Entry Statement

1. Project Goals: 

We created the new mobile-responsive website because our passengers have “gone mobile” but our 8-year old website had not. We planned to accomplish HAS’s strategic objective to “Make the passenger happy” by easing the passenger journey via the new website, designed “mobile-first.” Website usage increased 500% to 1.4 million sessions a month. Mobile use skyrocketed from 57% to 89%.

Media needs were addressed comprehensively in a brand-new, user-friendly Newsroom section: http://www.fly2houston.com/newsroom/.

Passenger-centric features include:
• Automatic display upon free airport wi-fi acceptance;
• Live parking availability;
• Live TSA wait times;
• Flight Search powered by FIDS, providing the most current information;
• Searchable Dine and Shop options near one’s gate;
• Ground transportation and hotel options;
• Traveler and visitor information; and
• Maps, maps and more maps.

The new website supports airlines via its 5 customer journeys and its user-friendly airline carriers page, which presents all passenger-centric contact information in a user-friendly display.

Comprehensive concession information is presented for all 197 properties, including name, price range, category, location, hours of operation, telephone number, and menu and website links.

The broader community was engaged via the redesigned “Connections” newsletter: http://www.fly2houston.com/newsroom/newsletters/july-2016/; and the Civic and Chamber of Commerce Outreach section: http://www.fly2houston.com/newsroom/articles/civic-and-chamber-commerce-....

2. Production: 

HAS’s IT contractor, GCR, brought in local digital agency Mouth Watering Media, which designed and built the mobile-responsive website. HAS provided digital assets including photography as well as all content.

HAS leveraged an ongoing project to develop all new maps for in-airport wayfinding, subcontracting with Labozan & Associates for the base maps. The maps were designed to be printed large for in-airport display as well as on 8.5”x11” paper for website purposes. The maps also are downloadable. A marketing intern populated the maps with airlines, amenities and services, dining and shopping, and airport navigation (Skyway and Subway, pick-up, drop-off, baggage claim, ground transportation, parking, and even electric vehicle charging stations).

3. Evaluation: 

The primary goal of the new website was to provide a customer-centric mobile-responsive experience to improve the airport customer journeys. This website accomplished that in spades:

- Mobile-responsive: mobile users increased from 57% to 89% of total traffic;
- Sessions increased to over 1.4 million in first 2 months, up from 200,000;
- Desktop users almost doubled, from 88,000 to 194,000 and appreciated the ability to plan ahead by checking live TSA wait times and real-time parking availability, as well as to print the pertinent terminal maps;
- Monthly in-airport users increased from ~4500 (1000 at HOU, 3500 at IAH) to 1.2 million (221,000 at HOU, 982,000 at IAH), finding useful the ability to search flights/gates, dine & shop options, services, and airport maps;
- Direct traffic to the site increased 86%;
- Pageviews are up almost 200%; and
- Average time on site is up 43% (and continues to increase).

4. Budget: 

The website budget was $150,000 for MWM. With a forecast 18 million website sessions per year, assuming the website is fully amortized after five years, the cost per session is 1/17th of one cent ($0.00166667).

Considerable staff time was dedicated to the development of content for the new website, over a period of a year. A marketing intern herded cats collecting concession details as HAS awarded 150 new concessions on July 1, 2015, and then cycled through old, temporary and finally permanent locations (that changeover will be complete 12/31/16). She also spent considerable time populating and updating the airport maps. A team of 10 worked, on average, 25% of the time on the project, as it required developing all new content, given the advanced age of the old website (8 years old).