Airports Are Tracking People by Wi-Fi to Sell, Sell, Sell

Bluetooth marketing has been used in airports before, but not like this. Over in Copenhagen, passengers are being tracked by their phones' Wi-Fi, so the airport can offer them special deals. It's the Groupon effect, you could say.

The company which is testing the technology, SITA, isn't actually based in Copenhagen—they're in Geneva, which is 860 miles away. Not that passengers would know that. They'd—hopefully—be too busy spending their money in the airport, taking advantage of the special coupon that they'd just received on their phone offering them 20 per cent off mascara at the duty free depot.

Currently in a testing period now, the program will be rolled out properly to the airport next month, and global airports after that. Not only will it help airports sell better, it will also track their actions and help airport planners understand foot traffic like nothing before.

Of course, you could argue that the 20 per cent of people who have phones with Wi-Fi (in Copenhagen, at least) might act differently than people who don't have Wi-Fi emitting devices on them. They might sit in Starbucks for hours, plugged into their laptops. But at least Copenhagen Airport will be able to track this percentage in real-time (pictured) and send more security personnel where needed, to speed up queues. Presumably it'd be faster and easier than looking at CCTV monitors.

If this means that more airports will be installing free Wi-Fi as an incentive to actually have our Wi-Fi switched on, then I'm all for it. But only if we get something in return, naturally. [NY Times]