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7Â Â Guide to the Travelerâs Airport Journey Transforming from a customer service mindset to a customer experience approach requires understanding the things that matter most to travelers. This is important because according to Airports Council International (ACI), an improvement of 1% in passenger experience translates into an increase of 1.5% in non-aeronautical revenues (ACI, 2019). This chapter explains the process of identifying and classifying targeted airport customer segments and personas and introduces the concept of journey mapping from the travelerâs perspective. It also provides tools to assist airports in creating their own journey maps and personas based on their specific and distinctive characteristics. Journey mapping is the foundation of a good customer experience program and allows airports to view the journey from the travelerâs perspective. Analyzing the travelerâs end-to-end journey is a critical step in enhancing the customer experience. 2.1 Traveler Segmentation Segmenting travelers allows an airport to obtain better insight and understanding of the perspectives of various groups. ChapterÂ 4 of ACRP Report 157 identified the classification of airport customers illustrated in FigureÂ 2 (Boudreau etÂ al., 2016). This Guidebook builds on the primary segmentation of airport customers in ACRP Report 157 to determine whether differences in perspectives among certain groups are unique enough to warrant further classification of traveler segments. The enhanced classification of targeted customer groups researched is provided in FigureÂ 3. The research concluded that there are notable differences among the newly identified segments, and this analysis has been expanded upon in subsequent chapters of this Guidebook. Since the research effort covers a much broader scope, the Guidebook has presented sugges- tions for more general traveler segments. However, individual airports need to look beyond general traveler segments in order to obtain adequate insight into their travelersâ characteris- tics, core values, and drivers. Traveler segmentation reveals who the travelers are but does not provide an understanding of their needs and motivations. To accomplish this, the creation of traveler personas is necessary. 2.2 Development and Application of Personas Recent changes in the aviation industry and in the expectations of travelers have begun to alter the way we approach our understanding, and thus the segmentation, of airport passengers (Harrison, Popovic, & Krall, 2015). For the airport industry, a deeper understanding of the C H A P T E R 2
8 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience ( Source: Boudreau et al., 2016) Domestic passengers ACRP Report 157 Traveler Segments The aged and aging International passengers Non- passenger customers Customers with special needs Families Figure 2. Traveler segmentation used in ACRP Report 157. Military Special needs Solo / couples Family with children Corporate business Infrequent SeniorsGuidebook Traveler Segments Students Non- native English speakers Figure 3. Traveler segmentation used in the Guidebook.
Guide to the Travelerâs Airport Journey 9Â Â behaviors and needs of the passenger is vital to achieving higher levels of customer service and developing new efficiencies in airport operations (ACI Media Release, 2016). The creation of personas provides the airport and its stakeholders with a better understanding of its travelersâ needs, motivations, sentiments, and consumption habits. They allow the airport to focus on a manageable set of travelers sharing similar characteristics, rather than trying to individualize each traveler. Creating personas backed by data also allows the airport to better empathize with and address the needs of its traveler segments. Toolkit 1 guides practitioners on the creation of personas to tailor a solution for individual airports. Using this toolkit, any airport can develop its own unique set of personas. The steps presented in the toolkit have been expanded on in the following. 2.2.1 Step 1: Collate and Analyze Existing Data Collect demographic information to identify the nature of travelers at the airport. Demo- graphic data can be sourced through the chamber of commerce, local planning agencies, the Census Bureau, the airport, and business partners. An analysis of demographic and traveler profile data allows for segmentation of travelers according to differentiating characteristics unique to the airport. The process also highlights an airportâs culture, size, and traffic differences as compared to other airports. The traveler profile generated may include but is not limited to the types of data shown in FigureÂ 4. 2.2.2 Step 2: Establish Segments Based on the existing data, a preliminary segmentation of travelers can be created. This will provide a basis for the data collection effort in Step 3. It is important to note that preliminary Toolkit 1: Developing Personas
10 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience data tells the airport who the travelers are, but it does not provide information on what their needs or motivations are. The preliminary segmentation could group travelers generationally, by reason for travel, or any other characteristic, based on available data. The illustration in FigureÂ 5 provides an example of two ways to segment travelers; however, each airportâs traveler segments will be different depending on demographics and other factors. The dark squares in FigureÂ 5 represent a more traditional segmentation, as used in this Guidebook; lighter squares represent an alternative way to segment travelers, based on other characteristics. 2.2.3 Step 3: Gather Data to Better Understand Needs and Motivations Conduct stakeholder workshops, social media analysis, customer interviews, focus groups, or surveys to better understand traveler motivations, their state of mind, needs, and consumption habits, as well as how they spend time at the airport. The customer interviews, focus groups, or surveys should include a large enough sample to be able to create the grouping that is necessary to identify the key segments. This form of data collection is particularly helpful in better empa- thizing with key segments. Other information, such as customer comments from the website, mobile app, customer comment cards, or business partner comments/reviews is helpful as well in understanding expectations and differences among the various travelers. Data that is collected from a variety of sources provides a more well-rounded perspective of the persona (see FigureÂ 6). 2.2.4 Step 4: Develop Unique Personas Analyze the data to identify patterns and commonalities to build specific personas unique to the airport. A persona is a semi-fictional character representing real-life behaviors of key Figure 4. Sample traveler profile. Figure 5. Example of traveler segmentation.
Guide to the Travelerâs Airport Journey 11Â Â groups of travelers traversing the airport. A key aim of creating personas is to empathize with and internalize the mindset of these airport passengers and then create a representation of the goals and behaviors of a hypothesized group of users. These key profile groups are then represented by a series of fictional personalities or personas (ACI, n.d.). FigureÂ 7 provides an example of personas developed by ACI and FigureÂ 8 provides another example developed by Denver International Airport. Figure 6. Data sources. (Source: ACI, n.d.) Figure 7. ACI passenger personas.
12 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience The persona should be the profile of a real person with a convincing narrative and an asso- ciated illustration, if applicable. It should describe key characteristics of the persona and the personaâs high-level goals. Most of all, each persona should reflect a typical traveler going through the airport every day. TableÂ 2 provides a sample template to build a persona. Using its data collection methodologies, the airport can monitor the evolution of personas over time to keep up with the changing needs of its passengers and anticipate future trends. The personas should be continually validated with key stakeholders to ensure that the personas accu- rately reflect the profile of travelers at the airport. Insights gained from the persona development exercise can be utilized to inform the journey-mapping process. How terminal designs can provide travelers a genuinely rewarding experience often depends on a tripâs purpose and individual traveler personas formed by culture, personality, gender, physical, and cognitive conditions (Chang, 2020). Personas are also influenced by a travelerâs motivations. For example, a frequent business travelerâs motivation might change when she is traveling with her family on vacation. Scenarios for each persona should be developed based on repeated or continuing data sources and should be linked with the journey map. This technique will allow airports to develop more targeted solutions for travelers. 2.2.5 Step 5: âWalk in Their Shoesâ Journey Mapping Develop a journey map from the travelerâs perspective to identify key pain points and solu- tions to alleviate these and enhance the customer experience. The journey-mapping process produces a visual tool that depicts the travelerâs interactions with the airport, as well as their needs, pain points, and perceptions throughout the course of their journey. This topic is dis- cussed further in SectionÂ 2.3. (Source: Denver International Airport) Figure 8. Sample personasâDenver International Airport.
Guide to the Travelerâs Airport Journey 13Â Â 2.3 Development and Management of Journey Maps The total traveler experience is influenced by key touchpoints throughout their airport journey. By visually walking through these touchpoints from the travelerâs viewpoint, an air- port can determine where it is succeeding or where travelers may be experiencing challenges and encountering negative emotions in their journey. This data can then be used to design interventions to alleviate pain points and improve customer experience. FigureÂ 9 illustrates key areas in the travelerâs journey and can be used as a starting point for the journey-mapping exercise. Cross-industry research has demonstrated that journeysâor the customerâs end-to-end experience of buying a product or serviceâtend to predict overall satisfaction much more accu- rately than customer satisfaction with individual touchpoints. In fact, the end-to-end customer experience metric predicts overall satisfaction and willingness to recommend twice as accurately as touchpoints do (Ewan, Neher, & Tucker-Ray, 2017). A journey map can help reveal the gaps between the travelerâs experience and what they desire, allowing the airport to focus on specific needs identified at different stages. Journey maps may help drive the airportâs strategy by illuminating the path- way of pain points and providing opportunities for innovation. They allow airports to organize their resources and employees around customer needs. Table 2. Template for developing personas.
14 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience Journey maps may be augmented with additional data to conduct different types of analyses identifying where the airport might be able to influence the customer experience and to visualize the relative impact of different experiences on cus- tomers. For example, assigning personas from different countries, generations, or demographics in the journey map to match those traveling through the airport can help airports to better understand the needs of their diverse groups of passengers and design interventions to address travelersâ unique needs. Customer journeys are not static, and therefore journey maps should be adaptable and expandable to respond to the evolving customer journey. ToolkitÂ 2 is provided as a guideline for an airport in developing its own dynamic journey map. Note that the various elements are introduced in a sequence that culminates in the end result. The following detailed steps describe the journey-mapping process and how it may be used to support customer experience programs. 2.3.1 Step 1: Planning Process â¢ Establish committee/working group. Establish a committee or working group charged with managing the journey-mapping process. â¢ Develop a journey-mapping plan that identifies the following: â Goals and scope of the exercise. These are the outcomes the committee wants to achieve from the journey-mapping exercise and its implementation. â Hypotheses. Aggregation of the knowledge and assumptions of leadership, management, and employees about customer experiences and needs is an important step in identifying what the organization already knows about the traveler. The hypothesis may include assumptions of how improvements in customer experience metrics may influence the expe- rience. This hypothesis will later be validated by data collected from travelers to determine the gaps in perceptions. Figure 9. Key journey touchpoints.
Guide to the Travelerâs Airport Journey 15Â Â â Anticipated timeline for completion. This is the expected duration of the initial journey- mapping process including scheduled workshops with key stakeholders and participants to help validate the journey map. â Benefits to enhancing the customerâs experience. Airports oftentimes provide a siloed expe- rience, given the complexity of possible touchpoints and the various stakeholders involved in delivering numerous services throughout the airport. The customer may have an excel- lent experience at one touchpoint but then have a completely different experience at the next. Outlining the benefits of the process early on will allow leaders to obtain stakeholder buy-in and help enhance collaboration, which is critical to the success of the exercise. The planning process should include a review of existing customer and relevant airport data to establish the background of existing knowledge for the mapping process and document it, as well as to help identify the points in the journey where the traveler has an interaction with the airport. This should include a review of all the data collected by the airport related to customer experienceâcustomer comment cards, social media data, survey data, focus groups, mystery shoppers, and employee feedback. The outcome of the mapping exercise should seek to answer questions such as those provided in TableÂ 3. 2.3.2 Step 2: Develop Personas Define key traveler segments/personas and identify unique characteristics (refer to SectionÂ 2.2). Toolkit 2: Journey Mapping Establish a committee charged with managing the journey mapping Analyze existing customer and airport data Develop a journey mapping plan STEP 2: DEVELOP PERSONAS Establish segments Gather additional data Develop unique personas STEP 3: DESIGN Identify key touchpoints Develop visual flow diagram STEP 6: IMPLEMENTATION Prioritize initiatives based on value to travelers and return on investment Manage the journey map to ensure commitments in the implementation plan are carried out Measure progress STEP 5: VALIDATE Review current data collection methods to inform journey map Identify enhancements to data collection Share the map with manager, leaders and other stakeholders STEP 4: ENHANCE Create sub layers of the journey: â¢ Use of personas â¢ Mapping traveler sentiments â¢ Mapping employee experience â¢ Mapping stakeholders â¢ Overlay commercial focus areas Decoding touchpoints further STEP 1: PLANNING PROCESS
16 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience 2.3.3 Step 3: Design â¢ Identify key touchpoints, which are instances where the customer has an interaction or decision point with the airport. Also, identify any kind of engagement the airport may have with its travelers at each point of the journey. These may include physical interactions, marketing campaigns, website or mobile app contact, social media interactions, and customer service inquiries. â¢ Develop a visual flow diagram illustrating the key touchpoints, actors, and silos at the airport to create an end-to-end experience. The initial map can be shallow and broad to capture all the touchpoints; subsequently, sublayers such as pain points and sentiments or emotions can be added. If an airport is already advanced in its journey mapping and has identified successes, failures, and/or issues, the first step can be the creation of a more detailed touchpoint map to develop the sublayers outlined in Step 4. The key is to focus on travelersâ perspectives when developing the journey map to understand their internal dialogue, gain empathy for what they are going through, and avoid simply listing the touchpoints through which they are traveling. There are resources that can assist with journey mapping, a few of which are presented in FigureÂ 10. 2.3.4 Step 4: Enhance Sublayers of the journey should be created to gain greater insight into the customer experience. Successes, moments of truth, and traveler pain points can be identified by utilizing a combi- nation of methodologies. A summary of sublayers that can be used to augment the airportâs journey map is presented in FigureÂ 11, followed by details of each. Using Personas Once the initial map has been developed, it can be augmented by persona-specific journeys to better understand the unique needs and pain points of each persona. Mapping out persona journeys can allow the airport to create experiences that will serve the personal needs of different personas to make them all feel equally valued (see FigureÂ 12). Q1. Who are my customers? Q2. How can individual customers be grouped into categories with individuals that share the same or similar characteristics? (creating segments or personas) Q3. What are the elements of the journey that are most important to the group? Q4. Which points of the journey are most sensitive for the group? Q5. What are their unique needs and expectations? (Source: Costa et al., 2014) Table 3. Customer journey map evaluation criteria. Post-its Paper andpen Adobeâs Marketing Cloud Microsoft Visio Sketch Custellence Omnigraffle Figure 10. Resources for mapping the journey.
Guide to the Travelerâs Airport Journey 17Â Â Mapping the Employee Experience Develop a journey map to understand the journey from the employeesâ perspective. A survey of employees may include questions that can be similar to those used for the traveler survey or interviews. The airport needs to understand the employeesâ perspective of the airportâs values and mission and their role in meeting customer needs. Incorporating the employee experience will reveal correlations between the customer experience and the employee experience and/or employeesâ perception of the customerâs experience. A critical element of the customer experience (discussed in ChapterÂ 5 of this Guidebook) is that a good employee experience translates into a good customer experience. FigureÂ 13 illustrates elements to consider for mapping the employee experience. Mapping Stakeholders The airport ecosystem is a collaboration among numerous stakeholders that influence the travelerâs journey. Mapping the stakeholders involved at each journey point will provide a complete picture of the actors involved in influencing the travelerâs journey (see FigureÂ 14). By listening to customer feedback, the airport can identify different areas where the airport and its business partners/stakeholders can work together in the journey mindset, instead of the traditional âsiloâ approach. There may be instances where the airport does not have complete control of the travelerâs expe- rience or may have scarce resources to address an issue at a particular touchpoint. These areas can also be identified, and strategies to ârepairâ the experience after the touchpoint can be devised. Using personas Mapping the employee experience Mapping stakeholders Discovering traveler sentiments Decoding touchpoints Adding benchmarks/metrics Figure 11. Summary of sublayers of journey map. Touchpoints Prior to airport arrival Arrival at airport Pre-security Security Post-security Sentiment/ emotional experience Root cause/ thoughts and feelings PERSONA A â¢ Age range â¢ Frequency of travel â¢ Tech-savviness â¢ Time spent at airport â¢ Characteristics â¢ Values â¢ Common pain points â¢ Etc. Figure 12. Sample journey map using an individual persona.
18 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience Touchpoints Prior to airport arrival Arrival at airport Pre-security Security Post-security Employee satisfaction score 3.75 Root cause/ thoughts and feelings Opportunities for improvement Figure 13. Sample template for mapping the employee experience. Touchpoints Prior toairport arrival Arrival at airport Pre-security Security Post-security Stakeholders â¢ App providers â¢ Airlines â¢ Car rental â¢ Pre-booking platform â¢ Car rental â¢ Ground transportation â¢ Parking operators â¢ Baggage handlers â¢ Meet & assist â¢ Airlines â¢ Volunteers â¢ Law enforcement â¢ Airlines â¢ Maintenance crews â¢ Concessions providers â¢ Volunteers â¢ Baggage handling â¢ Hotel â¢ Transportation Security Administration â¢ Volunteers â¢ Concessions providers â¢ Airlines â¢ Ground handlers â¢ Lounge operator Opportunities for collaboration Figure 14. Sample template for mapping stakeholders.
Guide to the Travelerâs Airport Journey 19Â Â Discovering Traveler Sentiments/Emotions One component of the travelerâs journey that has not been fully explored in the past is traveler emotion and the ability of the airport to provide a positive environ- ment focused on the positive elements of the journey. Understanding the travel- erâs emotions/sentiments at each stage of the journey is key because the customer experience is almost always dictated by how people feel at a particular moment. Discovering the emotions is not enough. The airport needs to understand the why or the root cause of particular traveler emotions at various journey points. FigureÂ 15 shows a template for mapping traveler emotions, and the following suggests information that should be captured: â¢ Mark the highs and lows of the experience including moments of delight, pain, or any point that might generate an emotional response from the traveler. Sentiment/emotion analysis is described in ChapterÂ 6. â¢ Identify areas of engagement, i.e., when the traveler has an interaction with airport staff/ volunteers/business partners and vice versa. â¢ Distinguish between the actual experience and the desired experience, which will provide useful data for the eventual action plan. Decoding Touchpoints Airports that are already advanced in their journey mapping can begin to decode touchpoints even further. For example, airports can â¢ Analyze the queuing for citizens and resident aliens versus non-citizens at the Customs and Immigration touchpoint. â¢ Analyze the experience of arriving at the airport by various modes of transportation. â¢ Analyze the experience of PreCheck versus no PreCheck lines at security. Touchpoints Prior to airport arrival Arrival at airport Pre-security Security Post-security Sentiment/ emotional experience Root cause/ thoughts and feelings PERSONA A â¢ Age range â¢ Frequency of travel â¢ Tech- savviness â¢ Time spent at airport â¢ Characteris- tics â¢ Values â¢ Common pain points â¢ Etc. Website/mobile app Parking Curbside check- in Security line Restaurant â¢ Frustration that the website doesnât contain any info on activities for kidsâ¦ Desired experience â¢ Pop up on the website directing travelers to information pertinent to families Satisfaction with touchpoint 0 5 10 Current satisfaction Importance Figure 15. Sample template for mapping of traveler emotions. âPeople bring their expectations and their emotional needs with them to the airport, and like it or not, airports bear the brunt of these expectations and emotional needsâ (Shapiro, 2018, p. 8).
20 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience Adding Benchmarks and Metrics Add benchmarks and metrics and hold airport staff, divisions, and departments accountable for the achievement of the benchmarks and/or metrics to track the progress of the impacts on the customer experience (see FigureÂ 16). Effective Journey Maps Journey maps can take on varying formats and varying levels of detail depending on the audience for whom they are intended. An effective journey map should address the questions outlined in TableÂ 4. 2.3.5 Step 5: Validate The steps for validation of the journey map include the following: â¢ Review current data collection methods and determine which existing methodologies can be utilized and are most effective to inform the journey map. At each touchpoint, identify the Touchpoints Prior to airport arrival Arrival at airport Pre-security Security Post- security Benchmarks /metrics Data source â¢ Surveys â¢ Social media â¢ Net promoter score Owner of benchmark â¢ Customer experience department 0 2 4 6 8 10 Current satisfaction Benchmark Figure 16. Monitoring the experience through the journey. (Source: Costa et al., 2014) Q1. Does the map clearly define the target customer it represents? Q2. Does the map clearly define the type of journey it represents? Q3. Does the map clearly describe the customerâs key interactions? Q4. Does the map clearly describe the customerâs needs during each interaction? Q5. Does the map clearly describe the customerâs current perceptions of each interaction? Q6. Does the map indicate the relative importance of each interaction and need to the customer? Q7. Does the map clearly describe the customerâs experience when transitioning across touchpoints? Q8. Does the map identify the internal owner of each customer interaction? Q9. Is the map usable? Table 4. Customer journey map evaluation criteria.
Guide to the Travelerâs Airport Journey 21Â Â data collection method to collect data to measure and track improvements. This will be used later in the journey management stage. â¢ Identify enhancements to existing data collection methodologies or identify new methodologies for collecting data to inform the journey map (see FigureÂ 17). â¢ Collect data from travelers to inform the journey map and understand the elements of the journey that are most important to the travelerâs satisfaction. â¢ Engage multiple organizational layers within the airport to help increase the focus on the customer, enhance teamwork, and improve cross-departmental and cross-organizational collaboration. â¢ Share the journey map with key stakeholders (managers, leaders, business partners and/or subcontractors, airport employees, and other stakeholders) to help them visualize themselves in the travelerâs shoes and better empathize with the travelerâs experience. This step should include a review from key stakeholders to validate or invalidate initial hypotheses that were developed at the planning stage. This will identify the differences, if any, between travelersâ perspectives and key stakeholdersâ perspectives. Each data collection methodology has drawbacks and limitations. Therefore, it is important to gather data from a variety of sources to inform the journey map. The aim is to determine the root cause of the issues identified. For example, an airport may collect data about queuing times, but understanding the reason(s) for the queuing times will allow leadership to develop tar- geted programs to address the underlying issues. All this information can be used to inform the journey map. 2.3.6 Step 6: Implementation The journey-mapping exercise should generate transparency regarding the travelerâs expec- tations and the effectiveness of current processes and procedures. The journey map itself only identifies the opportunities and issues; it does not resolve them. Mapping the ideal customer experience based on the data gathered will allow the airport to identify opportunities for improvement. Prioritizing efforts, optimizing solutions, and actively managing implementa- tion will help improve operational efficiency. Prioritize Once the mapping process is complete, a gap analysis needs to be conducted to identify the gaps between current experiences and desired experiences. An implementation or action plan should be developed to address the identified gaps. Figure 17. Enhancements to methods of data collection.
22 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience Since airport resources are limited, efforts need to be prioritized based on areas that have the most value to travelers and/or expectations that have the greatest return on investment. The airport can approach various touchpoints by focusing either on enhancing activities that delight the traveler or on reducing activities that detract from the experience. The implementation plan can be color-coded to identify high-priority to low-priority items. Implementation may begin with the issues that are easier to fix, building momentum toward the more complex issues. Manage Journey management, defined as âthe discipline of understanding, planning, implementing, and optimizing a portfolio of journey maps to create loyalty through an improved experienceâ (McInnes, 2017), is essential to delivering an experience the traveler expects and demands. This stage is essential to ensuring that the commitments identified in the action plan are carried out. Metrics and benchmarks to measure progress toward achieving objectives set in the imple- mentation plan need to be established and tracked. These metrics should be focused on the journey touchpoints to ensure the elements that matter to the customer are captured. Owner- ship of the benchmarks and metrics needs to be assigned to appropriate individuals and depart- ments so that they are held accountable for continuous improvement. Refer to ChapterÂ 6 for further detail on measuring the customer experience. Journey mapping is a continuous process. The outcome of the journey map is to identify the drivers that result in customer segments diverging in their behavior and intent. The key is to begin the process and continuously identify ways to innovate and enhance the customer experience as travelers, environments, and airports evolve. The journey map should identify priority areas for improvement and innovation. Ultimately, the process should result in customer- centric journeys leading to actions that will improve the customer experience.