Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the important role frontline staff play in helping determine an airport’s image
In today’s highly competitive environment where a good ‘airport experience’ could make the difference between a visitor buying something from a shop/restaurant or ultimately ever returning, the role played by frontline staff cannot be underestimated.
A friendly smile and welcome at check-in is always a good start, but how many times have you disappointingly been met by a seemingly overworked member of staff who cannot get rid of you quick enough?
Next comes the part of the journey that many find most stressful – partly down to the attitude of staff – security. And if this takes forever or is punctuated by perceived rudely made ‘demands’ to do this or do that by employees who appear to be relishing their position of power, the airport experience is suddenly not so enjoyable.
Other areas where airports often let themselves down in terms of customer service is immigration and customs control, where long queues, lack of information and then expressionless officers behind desks make the entire process extremely unfriendly. Although airports have no direct say in these processes as they are invariably carried out by government agencies, surely it doesn’t have to be this way, and more can be done to make things more welcoming?
I suppose the point I am trying to make here is whether airports are truly aware of the key role airport employees play in people’s journeys, or that staff are arguably their most important asset?
I honestly don’t know the answer, but I am glad to say that an ever-increasing number are beginning to recognise and reward staff that go the extra mile for the customer.
They include Singapore Changi, Dubai International Airport, Hong Kong and Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), all of which have introduced awards that recognise staff excellence. Indeed, Dubai’s include the Mega Star Performer (annual), Star Performer (quarterly) and Shooting Star (on the spot) awards which recognise “outstanding employee achievements and dedication”.
Another to recognise the huge impact staff behaviour can have on the ‘airport experience’ is Copenhagen, which has transformed its airport security experience by insisting on a more friendly style of screening that involves staff making eye contact with passengers and actually striking up a conversation!
While on a bigger scale, Gatwick has totally transformed its corporate culture since being bought by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), and now claims to be more passenger focused and aware of cultural differences than ever before.
Individual efforts like these are, of course, supported by ACI World in terms of its global training programmes and initiatives such as the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction programme and its newly launched PassengersPlus initiative, which is specifically designed to promote global service excellence.
You can read about most of the above in this ‘people/human resources’ themed issued of Airport World, where we also learn more about leadership challenges and reflect on staff participation in a number of charity events/fun days.
Finally, as it is our last issue of 2013, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you season’s greetings and all the best for a healthy, wealthy and happy New Year!
In this issue:
View from the top
Director general, Angela Gittens, reflects on the 100th anniversary of commercial flight, training initiatives and the fact that aviation is a ‘people business’.
San Francisco International Airport’s long-serving boss, John Martin, talks to Joe Bates about infrastructure development, traffic growth and his gateway’s impressive green credentials.
Caroline Cook spoke to Mohamed Yousif Al-Binfalah, CEO of Bahrain Airport Company, about the airport’s development plans.
Ready and willing
While the politicians are talking about a new airport for Sydney, Kerrie Mather, CEO of the existing one, is getting down to the business of running Australia’s busiest gateway. Lucy Siebert reports.
Tina Oakley, HR director of London Gatwick, talks to Sarah McCay about the airport’s new corporate culture and its positive impact on the passenger experience.
ACI World’s training programmes are designed to develop airport employees from top management to frontline staff, writes Kevin Caron.
Spotlight on leadership
Dr Richard Plenty and Terri Morrissey reflect on the highlights and lessons learned from the third annual Airport Leadership and Change Management Forum in Bologna.
Putting the passenger first
Caroline Cook finds out more about the launch of a new global initiative designed to showcase the efforts airports are making to improve the passenger experience.
More airports are raising funds for good causes with fun runs and plane pulls. Caroline Cook rounds up this year’s best charitable events.
Popping up everywhere
Malgorzata Lach takes a closer look at the evolution of pop-up retail and F&B outlets at airports.
Airport Marketing Exchange
SimpliFlying’s David McMullen and Shubhodeep Pal discuss the rise of airport investment in social media.
Investing in IT
Airport World reviews the highlights of the 2013 Airport IT Trends Survey.
How do airports around the globe increase retail revenues without incurring extra capital expenditure? Steve Messenger offers some guidance.
Joe Bates and Justin Burns round up the highlights of the recent SMART Airports Conference at inter airport Europe in Munich.
Sniffing out danger
David Stockton explains why, in today’s high-tech world, airports across the globe still rely on dogs to help perform key security tasks.
Project watch - Nacala Airport.
ACI’s World Business Partners
ACI traffic trends
The last word
Heathrow Express’s managing director, Keith Greenfield, talks to Justin Burns about the advantages of airport rail links.