It was a true pleasure to welcome many airport CEOs and key industry leaders to Montreal, the vibrant global capital of civil aviation, for the third annual ACI Customer Experience Global Summit last week. It is great to see in-person conferences making a comeback – nothing can replace being on stage and feeling the high energy of the audience.
Despite the ongoing difficult circumstances, we were fortunate to have with us a wide range of speakers and participants from every region in the world who implemented risk mitigation measures to travel safely to Canada to participate in our conference. More than 100 participants joined us in Montreal and almost 250 were present virtually through our digital platform to share valuable insights on best practices and emerging trends in customer experience, as well as to celebrate 2020 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award recipients. I would like to thank Amadeus and all of our sponsors – without your support this event would not have been possible. I am also pleased that the virtual part of the conference went smoothly thanks to the great team from Palais des Congrès. Together we are making positive steps in the right direction and I am very much looking forward to our next event – the World Annual General Assembly (WAGA), Congress and Exhibition which will be held on 20-24 November in Cancun, Mexico.
A dynamic economic environment, shifting passenger needs, and new expectations are rapidly changing the rules of customer experience. Travel, of course, will not be the same as it once was, which will require a high degree of flexibility and adaptability from our industry.
As we continue to navigate recovery and come together to rebuild global connectivity, now more than ever airports around the world need to listen to their customers and tailor their services, better align with passengers’ expectations, and forge new relationships that accelerate growth, and strengthen customer loyalty by providing them with greater confidence in a still uncertain world.
The Summit is all about bringing the industry together to discuss and explore how we can continue to prioritize the voice of our customers and ensure that we continue to meet their needs. The various panels throughout the two-day event showcased how the Customer Experience Summit is a global event and how airports share a common value of putting the passenger first.
I am delighted that we were able to bring the global summit back to the international aviation calendar – events such as this one are incredibly important – we need to set an example to the rest of the world by taking to the skies again and leading our industry back to prosperity. I am also very excited to be bring the 2022 Summit to Europe for the first time for next year. We look forward to going to Kraków, Poland on 13, 14, and 15 September 2022, and we and Kraków Airport will deliver another event to remember.
Since 2006, ACI’s ASQ program has been the world’s leading airport customer experience measurement and benchmarking program, covering all aspects of the passenger interactions in an airport, from departure to arrival and commercial areas. ASQ is recognized as a unique valuable monitoring tool for airport service quality for both airport operators and aviation oversight authorities worldwide. The program reaches 60% of the world’s 8.8 billion annual passengers, and its surveys are conducted at more than 400 airports, in more than 90 countries, and are available in 50 languages.
What differentiates us from other competitors is that the ASQ program is the only worldwide program to survey passengers at the airport on the day of travel. Our surveys are one-of-a-kind, each conducted just after the experience and based upon a scientific sample to assure validity of the results.
To ensure that this program addresses what members and passengers need and to remain relevant and responsive to changing passenger attitudes, expectations, and needs, ACI announced to participants at the global summit a major new evolution of the ASQ Departures Survey:
In creating these improvements, ACI has ensured that key historical data – which is so important in benchmarking performance over time – will not be lost as 70% of the KPIs are the same (or slightly improved) and the remaining 30% are new opportunities to better understand today’s passenger journey.
More than any other time in the program’s history, this responsive approach has been important to ASQ remaining the key industry program assisting airports to understand how to increase passenger satisfaction and improve business performance in this ever-changing landscape.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on global passenger traffic in 2020, it has also affected the expectations customers have for the airport experience. Airports have proven time and again their ability to shape and adapt to crises, and they have continued to listen to their customers to adapt the services and experiences they offer under very trying circumstances.
Amid the most challenging year in the history of our industry, ACI’s ASQ awards represent the highest possible accolade for airport operators around the world and recognize airport members that have prioritized listening and responding to the voice of the customer. This year ACI has introduced a new award – Best Hygiene Measures by Region – based on hygiene related questions added to the survey questionnaire. This provides airports with a reliable method of gauging customer response to new health measures and recognizes airports’ success in responding to the intense focus on hygiene.
The ASQ Awards celebration, held at the Gala Dinner after the first day of the Customer Experience Global Summit, recognized 108 awards which have been won by 89 individual airports around the world. The winners of the ASQ awards for Best Airport by Size & Region and for Best Hygiene Measures by Region, the inductees to the ACI Director General’s Roll of Excellence, and those receiving the Voice of Customer recognition were celebrated.
I celebrate and congratulate all our winners as they set an example for the entire industry as we rebuild crucial global connectivity and act as a key driver forthe global economic recovery. ACI will continue to adapt the ASQ program to ensure the benchmarking and findings remain the industry standard and are reflective and relevant for the changing landscape of air travel.
As we continue to pave the road to recovery, it is time to reinvent, rebuild, and recover. The pace of change is accelerating and this holds true particularly for aviation and airports. In an increasingly dynamic and competitive environment, airports are tasked with meeting and exceeding ever-evolving customer expectations through different providers. From the airport operator, airlines, and ground handlers, to retailers, and governmental agencies – now more than ever different stakeholders must come together to form one community to build back better together.
It is clear that a customer-focused approach will help guide the way forward. At the end of the day, our business – the airport business – is all about putting the passenger first. We need collaboration to advance the interests of our industry and raise the bar to show to others the positive impact we make in people’s lives.