Editor’s Note from ACI: In early March 2020, ACI announced the winners of this year’s ASQ Awards. Since then, the impact and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the global airport industry to a standstill. The ASQ Awards recognize those airports that listen and respond to the voice of passengers. As the industry begins to restart and plan for recovery, it will be even more important for airports to listen, understand, and responds to the changing needs and expectations of their customers.
Tallinn Airport is the largest airport in Estonia. Open to both domestic and international flights, they serve over 3 million passengers a year. Our passenger experience strategy is simple, a focus on being the world’s most cozy airport. The airport’s policy has always been to offer a convenient environment for travellers, where they can forget about travel anxiety and feel right at home. This approach has brought success them success, being recognized in 2019 as the Best Airport in Europe (2-5 million passengers).
The number of air passengers is growing throughout the world, Tallinn included, which is one of the reasons people spend an increasingly longer time at an airport. Riivo Tuvike, Chairman of the Management Board of Tallinn Airport admits that guaranteeing a positive experience to passengers depends on many factors: “The daily operations of an airport are subject to a lot of regulations; nevertheless, it is possible to make the traveller’s experience more comfortable. Often, people need to wait long at the airport and, to ensure that the people enjoy staying at the airport, we need continuous greater effort and offer added value to standard solutions,” Tuvike said.
A modern airport must cover all the efficient services and procedures that ensure a fast passenger route, but also security. Still, there are many possibilities on how to guarantee a comfortable and pleasant atmosphere for passengers. Coziness is one of the keywords on which Tallinn Airport focuses on. There are solutions in each stage of the journey, which contribute to creating the mood. For example, the announcement of security check, heard from the airport speakers, has been recorded using a child’s voice – this has proven to make passengers smile and relieve anxiety.
Tallinn Airport is compact – everything a traveller needs is at their fingertips and the gates of departing flights are just a couple of minutes’ walk from the security control zone. This way, the travellers do not have to go through a long and complicated route to the correct gate. A convenient and understandable passenger route is considered also when preparing extension plans.
The location of the airport – just 3 km from downtown is an important factor which contributes to the convenience of Tallinn Airport. Easy and fast access by car, taxi, tram, bus and even by foot means that arrivals at the airport are stress-free.
Waiting for a flight should not be boring and inconvenient. In order to ensure passengers can enjoy themselves while waiting for their flights, creating different possibilities for people of all ages is a great solution. Tallinn Airport has everything a proper airport should have – cafes and restaurants for all tastes; shops for any last-minute shopping for souvenirs and gifts; a bookshop, electronics store, drugstore, Duty-Free, and wine shop.
In addition to the standard services, travellers can also play table tennis (ping-pong), watch 3D videos introducing Estonia, and play the piano.
A big highlight is the self-service library which has been operating at the airport for several years. Every passenger can grab a suitable book for their trip from the shelves at Gate 1 and return it afterwards. An added bonus, anyone is free to bring new books to the airport library. Children’s books and books in different languages are especially welcome. The library, furnished with comfortable armchairs, is a nice and quiet place for anyone to relax and browse.
Surprises for anniversaries or bigger events has also been a proven method in enhancing the passenger experience while also making travellers feel part of the airport’s culture and milestones. Sometimes, the mixed choir consisting of the employees of Tallinn Airport surprise passengers with a spontaneous performance at the open area of the terminal. The airport has had pop-up concerts for example on the occasion of the Jazzkaar festival, shown a programme of short movies during a film festival, and offered the activity of decorating gingerbread cookies during Christmas. In 2015, the airport’s security announcements were enriched by notices sung by Estonian musicians, with which coincided with celebrating Estonia’s Year of Music – a creative measure for an enhanced experience.
Since joining the ASQ programme in 2017, Tallinn Airport has a deeper understanding of passengers and their overall performance. The programme has allowed the airport to set better customer-centric standards. They are able to understand the expected service levels from partners and the direct impact their efforts have. As a result, this facilitates their future plans for a rapidly changing world, with even more passengers and expectations.
Over the last few years, there have been numerous success stories as well as defeats as with any growing business. In 2018, Tallinn airport dug up the entire entrance to build a new parking house and re-design the Kiss & Fly zone. This construction and lack of planning caused the airport’s ASQ results to tumble for that quarter. This experience provided insight of how important alternative passenger journeys are during any type of disruption that will directly impact a passenger. A lesson learned, do not assume but validate and test.
This year Tallinn Airport is proud to have made the list of Best Airports and wouldn’t have been able to achieve such success without applying the data that was gained throughout the last few years.
The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.