Waiting is never easy for a traveler. Every passenger has somewhere to be, and they’re expecting to be at those places by certain times. The passengers in your lines or virtual queues are on a schedule and they’re very conscious of what kind of progress they’re making. So how do you help them more relaxed about the inevitable wait? One simple move can make all the difference. Left to their own devices, a passenger is more likely to overestimate how long they’ve been standing in the queue. Instead, let them know how long they can expect to wait. This move may sound like the kiss of death – informing passengers that a lengthy wait is in their future may feel like a surefire way to prompt people to seek out an alternate mode of transportation, or open up a slew of complaints. The reality, however, as the psychology of queuing has taught us, is that uncertain waits feel longer than known, finite waits. Passengers are more satisfied knowing what kind of wait is ahead. A simple visual display, be it a clock or digital signage, is a powerful tool in helping maintain passenger expectations. People know they have to wait, so why not address the elephant in the room to help shrink it down to a manageable size? Most of all, knowing the wait time ahead frees passengers from focusing on the wait so they can focus their attention elsewhere, whether they’re managing last-minute travel details on their phone, making a few phone calls before boarding, or thinking about the items they forgot to pack and have to purchase before they get on their plane, train, or bus.
Wait times can be displayed via digital screens placed throughout the waiting area. They can also be delivered via a web app to help passengers plan ahead before they leave for the airport. Queue analytics is the key to delivering accurate wait times. Queue analytics systems can measure wait times, count people in the queue, and calculate estimated wait times accordingly. By employing thermal sensors, infrared sensors, WiFi or Bluetooth tracking, or cameras, you can use intelligent queue management to glean a level of accuracy in people-counting that simply cannot happen with occasional manual counting of passengers. One last note: It’s important not to underestimate the wait in an attempt to make it more appealing. Travelers will expect to be served within the time period given, so providing on-point wait times tends to be a better approach. And being treated to a shorter wait than anticipated will make travelers very happy. Learn more about handling passenger expectations by downloading your free copy of our guide, The Passenger Experience: Managing Crowds, Decreasing Wait Times, and Improving the Passenger Journey.