Engaging a passenger’s mindset: how to keep a passenger entertained

International Airport Review’s Editorial Assistant, Chunekshi Wimalasuriya, looks at passenger experience campaigns of airports across the globe, who have gone the extra length to ensure a satiated and entertained traveller.

As seems to be the mantra for the aviation industry recently, travel is back. With a lot of airports reporting passenger numbers surpassing those of 2019, coupled with a general trend that passengers are turning up to the airport earlier, it has never been more important to keep them entertained. 

With so many people passing through terminals, the experience of an airport is important – it can be what gives a person a headache or a smile. This is particularly pertinent for transit passengers, who stay for long periods at connecting airports.

Many airports diversify their passenger experience, offering multiple F&B and retail options or keeping staff on-hand to help with customer queries. In the following, we look at some airports who use creative campaigns to engage the traveller and whose features help ease passengers.

Munich Airport

Munich Franz Josef Strauss Airport is an international airport serving Munich and Upper Bavaria. It is the second busiest airport in Germany, handling 47.9 million passengers in 2019.

The airport has been recognised for some of the useful features it offers to transit passengers. Offering solitude and a warm bed, the airport promotes the sleeping pod service, ‘Napcab’, for passengers. The service is equipped with a separate working area and internet access too, allowing passengers the flexibility if they’d like to sleep or work productively.

Reviews of the service have been good, with travellers stating that it has helped energise them and recuperate energies after a long journey and preceding an even lengthier one. The pods’ ease of accessibility and good standard of cleanliness adds to Munich Airport’s reputation of being a satisfactory layover destination.  

CREDIT: MUNICH AIRPORT

What’s more is that during the 2023 summer holidays, climbing enthusiasts had the opportunity to test their personal limits at dizzying heights in the Munich Airport Centre (MAC). Experienced climbers and newbies alike got to try out new challenges between 07 August and 30 August, 2023, when the MAC Forum played host to a high-rope course specially designed for the airport. Experienced trainers were at hand to provide instructions and the safety equipment required to use the various climbing stations, which spanned a height of 15 meters and a width of 23 meters. A two-hour climbing session costs EUR 9 for adults aged 15 and over and EUR 7 for children up to the age of 14.

John F. Kennedy Airport

John F. Kennedy Airport is the main international airport of New York, and annually serves about 27 million passengers. The reported has taken advantage of a long-standing retail partnership with Grey Goose to offer an interactive F&B experience to passengers.

The experience of an airport is important – it can be what gives a person a headache or a smile”

Grey Goose created an interactive illuminated Ferris wheel containing cocktail recipes, and travellers were encouraged to pull a lever to open the door to a mini chalet on the wheel, revealing a recipe that they can photograph in order to replicate the recipe at home.

The interactive nature of the activity can help to excite an otherwise dormant mind. Couple this with the perceived ‘rewards’ of recipes and it’s clear that the activity instils in passengers a sense of motivation and drive.

Not wanting to forgo the human touch, this partnership breeds familiarity with the traveller by featuring cocktails made by top New York bartenders like Jillian Vose of Dead Rabbit, Evan Hawkins of Broken Shaker and Liana Oster of Dante.

Changi International Airport

In keeping with the airport’s lavish botany, Changi International Airport launched a floral festival called Jewel Blooms: Splendours of Singapore. Running from 01-10 September 2023, the airport hosted an exquisite collection of 10 floral displays by Singaporean floristry talents, including Anson Low and Christopher Lim. These displays were a botanical ode to Singapore’s story, harkening to its history, culture, food and its national flower.

CREDIT: CHANGI AIRPORT GROUP

The festival’s resonance to Singaporean culture can be intriguing to transit passengers who have a long layover time, but are unable to leave the airport due to visa restrictions etc,. By partaking in the festival, passengers can get to experience Singapore and its culture, without leaving its terminals.

The festival’s activities are made to excite people and are a good way for transit passengers to keep energised during tedious layover times. The festival hosted a series of mini events like plant swaps, flea markets (which sold a variety of plants, flowers and horticulture tools) and free talks. The sheer range of things to do can be appealing for transit passengers who are looking for ways to curb boredom. 

Bahrain Airport

Bahrain International Airport is the international airport of Bahrain and serves as the hub for national carrier, Gulf Air. In partnership with Gulf Air Group, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority and Kanoo Travel Agency, the airport launched a series of daily, free tours for transit passengers in July 2023.

Passengers with a layover ranging five to 24 hours can avail a free city tour, which would take them around the Kingdom’s landmarks and historical hotspots and get a sense of Bahrain’s rich heritage. The service has already proven to be a hit, with reviews on tour operator’s website, Traveller’s Quest, as being ‘highly recommended.’

Passengers can get to experience Singapore and its culture, without leaving its terminals.”

Commenting on the purpose of these tours, Gulf Air Group Holding Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Goh stated that: “The Kingdom of Bahrain is not only an increasingly attractive destination for business and leisure travellers, but also a strategic gateway between East and West. Scores of visitors transit through (Bahrain International Airport) daily, with many not getting a chance to see the country beyond the confines of the airport. We hope the introduction of this new service will enhance the passenger experience, give visitors a better understanding of all the remarkable attractions Bahrain has to offer”.

While the tour provides cherished memories to transit passengers, Goh’s comments also depict the benefit tours like these have to a country’s tourism. In showcasing a country’s natural landmarks, people can understand the destination better, which could potentially breed interest in visiting the country again.

iGa Istanbul Airport and Turkish Airlines have also launched similar free tours for transit passengers (who have layovers of six to 24 hours long) which would take travellers around national landmarks including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Galata Tower and allow them to enjoy authentic Turkish cuisine.

Conclusion

These four examples from different points of the globe and their airports highlight the efforts being made to elevate the airport experience to passengers and keep them entertained and engaged with interactive activities. These are all efforts to make airports a destination in their own right and transition from a building you have to go and wait inside before you catch your flight, to providing memorable and engaging experiences.

So, what has been your favourite airport experience?

About the author – Chunekshi Wimalasuriya

Chunekshi is International Airport Review’s Editorial Assistant. She joined Russell Publishing in March 2023 and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Nottingham.

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