To increase airport revenues, start putting the passenger experience first
Develop a Brand Strategy That is Rooted in Local Culture
When a passenger lands in your airport, can they identify the city or region based on the terminal? Can they distinguish this particular airport from any other? It sounds like a silly question, but the answer can tell you a lot about the strength of your branding strategy.
Here’s why. Passengers are trending away from mass-market products and want items and services that reflect the personality, culture, and identity of the region they visit. The good news is that airports have a unique opportunity to celebrate their respective regions — cultural offerings, history, art, natural wonders, tourism draws, and more. Whether they’re staying in the area for a few hours or a few years, visitors can experience a slice of all the region has to offer without leaving the building.
Integrate local arts into the program and develop communal gathering spaces similar to those in the area where residents and visitors share meals, stories, and friendship. Try to create a mix of well-known local/regional brands (think Garrett Popcorn in Illinois or Seattle Chocolates in Washington) with national/international brands to create a unique airport concession program that exists only at your airport.
Prioritize Experiences, Not Things
Today’s consumers are more interested in enriching experiences than they are in products. The “retail-tainment” trend has taken hold in other industries, but it extends to the commercial aviation world, too — airports are starting to invest in more intuitive design that accounts for the diverse needs of passengers, from commuters to vacationers. Some have instituted “slow stops,” like pet relief areas and rocking chair-lined terminals, where visitors can take a moment to unwind. Others are adopting a “retail-tainment” approach that blend traditional airport amenities, like food and retail, with more unexpected ones, like music, art, and greenery. Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Airport, for instance, was recently a recipient of one of the 2016 Airport Service Quality Awards. A DFW spokesperson credited the airport’s investment in a larger customer experience team with the achievement.
The better you understand your passengers’ journey, the more you can do more to anticipate their needs. Passenger experience and employee culture initiatives like NAE, for instance, provide an opportunity to weave a “person”-centric mantra throughout the concession program’s entire lifecycle: goal setting, programming, and implementation in an impactful way. While we know that passengers’ number one priority is to locate their departure gates, ideas that enable them to slow down and appreciate their surroundings could make all the difference.
Remember: Passenger Experience is a Work in Progress
Your airport’s passenger experience initiatives — first and foremost — require a strategy to uncover what is most relevant and important to your passengers as individuals. Many disciplines could potentially serve as the focal point of a passenger experience enhancement strategy — just ensure that yours is focused, impactful and empathetic to the needs of your passengers as individuals.