COVID-19: Celebrating leaders in airport customer experience as expectations change

Andre Bolduc by Andre Bolduc | Jun 2, 2020

The winners of ACI World’s renowned Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards were announced on 9 March but, unfortunately, the achievements of those winning airports were largely overshadowed by the rapidly unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

All airports have rightly been focused on protecting their passengers and employees, and all ASQ members have been adapting the airport experience in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

There is no doubt that the needs and expectations of passengers will change as a result of the pandemic and the provision of airport customer experience will need to change too.

But, even as the industry prepares for restart and begins to lay the foundation for a sustained recovery, it is important to celebrate the winners.

These award-winning airports have demonstrated that they listen to their customers and provided a service that meets or exceeds their expectations, and the capacity to do this will be crucial as they prepare to deliver a “new normal”.

ASQ continues to be the industry benchmark for excellence

For the past 14 years, the annual ASQ Awards have recognized and rewarded the best airports in the world according to the opinion of their own passengers (surveyed through ACI’s ASQ Departures and Arrivals surveys).

These awards represent the highest possible accolades for airport operators and are an opportunity to celebrate the commitment of airports worldwide to continuously improving the passenger experience.

This year, 141 awards were won by 85 individual airports – the largest ever number of recipients. Winning airports are based on percentages, with those in the top 20th percentile recognized across the 40 combinations/categories of awards.

Categories include:

  • Best Airport by Size & Region
  • Most Improved Airports by Region
  • Best Environment and Ambience by Size
  • Best Customer Service by Size, and
  • Best Infrastructure and Facilitation by Size.
Full list of ASQ Winners

Airport Service Quality’s historical progression

In the first year of the awards, a total of 40 awards were awarded. Between 2006 and 2018, more than 840 awards have been awarded, with the annual total increasing year on year.

2017 ASQ Award Winners

This, in itself, is proof that airport operators are working harder than ever before to place their passengers at the center of everything that they do.

2018 ASQ Award Winners

ACI has developed two unique forms of international recognition of customer experience excellence: the annual ASQ Awards for the best airports in the world, and the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme.

The Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme was launched in 2019 and 40 airports have already been accredited.

Understanding passengers remains the key element

Understanding  passengers is the key underlying principle behind the rationale for collecting data from the ASQ Departures and Arrivals surveys which inform the awards.

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, some passengers still travelling, although under very different conditions.

This new reality is, for the most part, not under the control of the airports and is not the usual experience delivered by them. It is nevertheless important for airports to understand what now makes up passenger expectation and to monitor customer satisfaction.

This information is crucial, especially when the airport enters the period of recovery and will be an importamt tool to regain passengers’ trust. Airports need to understand what might prevent passengers from travelling again or if there are new drivers of satisfaction.

Understanding this will help airports to tailor their services and experience so that passengers are reassured, meet their expectations, and encouraged to travel again.

Being aware of the passengers needs and wants during these times will form the building blocks that will pave the road to recovery.

Getting an indication of passenger expectations form the ASQ Barometer  

ACI World  developed an Airport Service Quality barometer which is the first global snapshot of airport customer experience satisfaction levels.

Published quarterly, the barometer was created in direct response to members’ feedback that they wanted to be proactive in measuring their efforts against sound and objective data.

It includes overall satisfaction scores presented on a global and regional level.

The ASQ Barometer enables airports around the world to measure up against their competition and gain invaluable insights to inform their approach to the increasingly competitive and crucial area of customer experience.

ASQ Barometer

What’s next for airport customer experience?

The ASQ Awards are a tribute to customer experience excellence and we should celebrate and congratulate all winning airports for their relentless efforts to make the passenger experience an excellent experience.

It is important for airports to celebrate with their employees and stakeholders. Afterall, there is no customer experience without positively engaged employees.

With the recent unexpected changes in world traffic, ACI will adjust and provide maximum flexibility for airport members qualifying for the 2020 ASQ Annual Awards.

New eligibility requirements will be defined officially once traffic starts recovering from the crisis.

Andre Bolduc

Andre Bolduc

Director, Customer Experience and Strategy, Airport Service Quality (ASQ), ACI World
André Bolduc is responsible for the evolution of the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme, the ASQ commercial strategy along with developing and maintaining strong relationships with ASQ’s airport membership. Recognized for his expertise in customer experience, strategic planning, product development, and project management, he has extensive experience in the marketing of the customer experience in financial service products.
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