London Heathrow Airport Takes Off with DMI and Google Cloud Platform

Background

Flying has become an experience to be endured rather than enjoyed. Long slogs through security, delayed flights, lost baggage—no one would argue that air travel can be stressful. One airport recognized travel stress as a huge opportunity to improve the customer experience: London Heathrow. Servicing over 180,000 passengers every day and standing on a tradition of industry-leading customer service, the airport saw the value in launching its own mobile application, one that would embrace, and validate the Heathrow tradition of “making every journey better.”

Challenge

Heathrow wanted to launch a user-friendly mobile app that would offer real-time information on flights, baggage, retail locations and the like, while delivering a tailored experience to every passenger flying through Heathrow. In addition, the airport saw an opportunity to leverage the power of mobile for its retail merchants, specifically to alert travellers to special offers. It was important for the app to align passenger needs with the business needs of Heathrow’s approximately 350 shops and restaurants.

Solution

Heathrow chose DMI to develop its Heathrow Airport Guide. Having worked with DMI in the past, Heathrow valued DMI’s innovative approaches to end-to-end mobile solutions as well as the company’s expertise in mobile retail trends. Leveraging Google Cloud Platform, DMI was able to deliver the speed, storage, and data analysis capabilities the app would require. Among those resources:

  • Google App Engine to quickly build a platform that would integrate flight, baggage, parking and other timely information
  • Google Cloud Storage to store and retrieve retail promotional content that contributes to $4B/year in retail sales
  • BigQuery to collect and analyze information on passenger traffic flow and yield insights that help optimize and customize the passenger experience

The Heathrow Airport Guide, available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices, offers a comprehensive range of information and services, including live flight updates, an interactive map of airport facilities with detailed information about shops and restaurants, public transit connections based on the passenger’s location, and the ability to share flight details via social media and email.

London Heathrow Mobile App

Results

The app processes 2000 real-time flight schedule updates per second, as real-time mobile offers enhance the airport retailers’ experience. The app has been running since 2011 with only minor optimizations or adjustments. According to DMI, “Google Cloud Platform enables the development team to focus 90% on the frontend customer experience and 10% on backend development.” It is currently serving the mobile channel for the busiest airport in Europe 24/7.