This week, I rediscovered the joys of being a tourist in a foreign land. For a few glorious days, my senses were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, flavors and curiosities of Osaka. As I reflected on my adventures in the city with colleagues from KIX, I had a private “Eureka” moment… let’s call it The Osaka Experience.
For the last several years, I have been immersed in researching passenger experience at airports. However, my experience in Osaka reminded me of a key ingredient in the passenger experience equation that is overlooked when the lens is narrowly focused on the airport: the reason why passengers travel. Examining the psychology of the traveller outside the terminal building can be leveraged to improve their experience within the terminal. More specifically, it can be the key to influencing the expectations of future travellers – which in turn, affects satisfaction and the bottom line.
Let’s take the case of the holiday or vacation traveller. Passengers go on holidays to collect experiences. The recollection of these shared experiences lives on past the actual holiday itself, and continues to influence the experience of future travellers. Now, we know from studies of human behavior that human memory is fallible, prone to remembering only the beginning, the ending, and the highlights in between.
As passengers begin and end their travel in an airport terminal building, there is a very good chance that this is the part of their trip that they will readily recall. We know that the parts of a passenger’s vacation that are remembered indirectly shape the expectations of many future travellers through direct (word of mouth) and indirect (social media) channels.
The outbound passenger who has just finished their vacation is likely to be bursting with anecdotes and photos from their trip that they could share while waiting (bored) in the departures hall. Why not help them share their stories? Imagine an interactive giant digital wall displaying these photos and anecdotes. This would create instant engagement for the passengers waiting to board their flight, and build a repository of social capital for future travellers.
In effect, the departure hall would become the training ground for the airport’s army of social champions. Additionally, by reinforcing the highlights of the trip in the departing passenger’s thoughts, the seed for a return visit would be quietly planted.
Sources: a big “Arigato” to my wonderful hosts in Osaka – Goto-san and the team from KIX and Ando-san from All Star Osaka Walk. A special thank you to Murata-san, my generous and tireless host in Kyoto.