Understanding your arrivals passengers and their expectations

Valérie St-James by Valérie St-James | Jul 1, 2017

For airports to get the most out of their investments to improve the passenger experience, we must start by understanding the overall passenger journey through an airport. When passengers leave the aircraft and enter the airport arrivals area, airports are constrained by the fact that the main objective of the passengers is to leave the airport as soon as possible. Given this situation, some airports may even question whether it is worth it to explore the arrivals process and introduce measures to improve it.

The arrivals process is an important part of the entire passenger journey through an airport, and aiming for constant improvement in the arrivals customer experience is therefore a worthwhile goal. The number of steps in the process varies depending on a variety of elements (e.g., passenger origin or whether they have checked baggage), but all passengers are anxious to complete this process as quickly as possible for any number of reasons. It may be that someone is waiting for them, that they have to attend a meeting or that they are just tired from the trip. This feeling of being rushed puts the passenger in a certain mood with a specific set of expectations. For this reason, exploring the key dimensions that contribute to creating a positive arrivals experience is a useful exercise.

To pinpoint those key dimensions and to ensure that every touchpoint along the passenger journey is considered, it is important to place yourself in your passengers’ shoes. Throughout the journey, they are discovering the airport, they experience the service and the facilities, and they interact with the staff. What information do they need? What emotions are they experiencing? What messages are they receiving from the environment to which they are exposed? All of these variables will have an impact on their overall appreciation of the process and the experience.

When surveying passengers during their arrivals experience, the following emotions and perceptual evaluation of services must be taken into account:

  • The overall flow at each step of the process (immigration, baggage claim and customs)
  • The overall perception of security, the ambiance, the walking distance, the signage, the organization of the waiting line, and the availability and helpfulness of the staff

Once the range of emotions and perceptions has been identified, measuring the level of satisfaction for each of those elements will provide a picture of the full customer experience. It will also offer the details necessary to support the prioritization of improvement initiatives. Repeated measurement of customer satisfaction over time is an effective way to understand your return on investment where customer service initiatives are concerned.

Of course, surveying passengers at the arrivals will bring its own set of challenges. Even though it would be tempting to reach out to the passengers once they are back home and more open to take the time to share their experience, real-time surveys have much more value. The experience is still fresh in their mind and their mood has not been impacted by any event that may have happened after leaving the airport. Passengers should be intercepted close to the end of their journey to allow measurement of the entire process, but they will not be as willing to participate. For this reason, well trained interviewers using the latest technology should be employed to speed the survey process.

Whilst the arrivals process may seem to offer limited revenue opportunities, improving the passenger experience can bring your airport to the next level. Will a positive, simple and quick process have an impact on the passenger’s mood? Will it give them more time to stay in the retail area? Understanding your arrivals passengers and their expectations will not only improve their perception of your airport, but also pave the way to new sources of revenues.

After more than 10 years of building expertise in surveying passengers at departure, this month, ACI’s ASQ programme will be launching the new ASQ Arrivals Survey to help participating airports measure the complete experience of arrivals passengers. Applying the same methodological rigor as the departures survey, the arrivals survey will allow airports to obtain an overall picture of the entire passenger journey.

ASQ Arrival Survey
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Valérie St-James

Valérie St-James

Director, ASQ Marketing Research, ACI World
Valerie St-James leads the airport service quality benchmarking programme team’s efforts in market research, operations, quality assurance and new product initiatives. With more than 15 years’ experience, Valerie is known for her expertise in transforming consumer data into meaningful strategic insight. She is devoted in creating robust tools and methodologies allowing airports to emerge in their customer experience journey, while building a strong community and delivering the best passenger experience.
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