It’s difficult to imagine anything easing the pain of cramped coach seats, overpriced airport food and cancelled flights over the busy holiday period, but airports worldwide are pulling out all the stops in attempt to brighten flyers’ travel experience.
Singapore’s Changi Airport has an interactive performance for children, costumed characters walking the terminals, and displays of winter scenes from around the world. Hong Kong International installs a 52-foot Swarovski Christmas tree and has flash mobs of a cappella-performing art students. Traditional European Christmas markets are set up in Munich and Frankfurt airports.
These are also some of the busiest weeks for airports giving them the opportunity to make a positive impact on flyers’ perception.
Although few of these airports would share the costs of their fantastically elaborate set-ups on account of competition and regulations, we have no doubt that they have their costs in both dollars and manpower.
Finances for London Heathrow’s holiday entertainment and decorations come from a dedicated “surprise and delight” section of its budget. In order to be allocated in this way, the ideas must improve and add value to customers’ journeys at the airport.
This year costumed characters will be walking through terminals, a Santa will pass out lollipops in the shapes of turkey, stuffing and Christmas pudding, and lights on a vinyl Christmas tree will light up when tweet the hashtag #T2Christmas.
Heathrow measures ROI through brand surveys, quality service measures, and independent global measurement ASQ. Although the airport sees a peak in customer satisfaction around the holidays, an airport spokeswomen concedes that there are a lot of factors, including the excitement of seeing family and friends, that impacts satisfaction.
Other airports have come up with a more cost-effective way of showering their flyers in holiday joy.
Vancouver Airport has number of entertainers scheduled to appear in airport terminal throughout the year and free gift wrapping available after check-in. Airport spokeswomen Tess Messmer says it is difficult to pinpoint an exact dollar value spent on holiday entertainment and decorations at Vancouver Airport.
Local school choirs, pianos, and student pianos entertain on a volunteer basis and most of the decorations are recycled from year to year.
The airport does not measure ROI of the holiday extras, but bases it on overall customer satisfaction.
“The holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year and if we can create a positive and festive atmosphere at YVR that will make traveling more enjoyable for our customers, that is viewed as being successful,” says Messmer.