Services delivered at airports should meet, and exceed, the expectations of customers and all stakeholders on a consistent basis. This requires a high level of coordination from all persons responsible for various airport interactions and processes, from the point of arrival at the airport (ensuring thta there are adequate parking arrangements) to the time of departure (ensuring that boarding and departure processes are efficient).
Airports are continuously reviewing their operations to ensure that the end-to-end process of facilitation reduces the hassle experienced by travellers, and provides the end user with a memorable experience, while balancing the need for increased screening and security.
Globally, airports are developing revenue from non-aeronautical sources as the decline in air traffic forces airports to reduce their dependency on aeronautical fees. Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) has sought to improve its facilitation in the areas of airline, passenger, cargo, concessionaires, staff and the public in general. It has increased concessionaires on the upper floor of its departure lounge, including new shops, enhanced entertainment, Wi-fi services and new seating that are expected to arrive in the summer of 2018.
When choosing concessionaires to occupy the new space, MBIA has set criterion to ensure that the ambiance and services provided to passengers set a high standard in terms of variety, quality and value. It has partnered with Priority Pass, which provides executive lounge services worldwide to complement the VIP services offered at the MBIA Executive Lounge on the second floor of the airport. This cosy lounge provides the privacy and comfort that helps to relieve the normal airport hustle and bustle.
MBIA is always looking for ways to enhance the experience at its airport. This includes the addition of a state-of-the-art training facility to serve staff and other stakeholders. In the arrivals area, the airport has added new booths for the immigration officers and self-check-in kiosks for nationals. Next, it will be redesigning the customs area to make it more passenger-friendly and security will be enhanced by the addition of new X-ray screening machines.
Given the forecasted increase in passenger movement for the Caribbean region over the next five years, there is an urgent need for MBIA to reinvent in order to increase capacity and provide a more customer-appealing environment.
A fundamental shift needs to occur wherein the airport is no longer just an infrastructure provider for transport, but also aids in the development of an airport city for every target user group, while maximising airport retail and real estate management.
In the area of providing additional services to the public, MBIA reopened the Waving Gallery and added art exhibitions as a regular feature. On a regular basis, new art is displayed in what has now been rebranded as the Waving Art Gallery.
During certain times of the year, and in collaboration with destination management operatives, the airport hosts 'meet and greet' welcome events in public spaces, based on the various themes of the national festival being promoted. All this is done with the idea of transforming the airport into a place where it's not just about travel, but also about creating an environment where passengers, staff and stakeholders can have an enhanced local experience that assists in the promotion of the destination.
In the area of cargo facilitation, Grenada Airports Authority - operators of MBIA - recently held forums to engage stakeholders with the issues that they regularly face and to come up with solutions to address them. This has led to the recent acquisition of a high-lift loader via the airport's subsidiary company, Aviation Services of Grenada, which has improved its ability to provide cargo services to larger aircraft, like Boeing 767s. As a result of these consultations with stakeholders, MBIA has also invested in a new cargo scanner, which allows it to move larger pallet loads for screening, thus improving facilitation and efficiency without compromising security. Its next project involves the construction of a purpose-built cargo facility designed to meet industry standards for cargo operations.
In order to achieve maximum impact with these enhancements, and continuously improve passenger experience, MBIA must simultaneously embark on customer service training for all persons involved in the experience chain, from the first point of contact to the point of departure. Employee motivation and stakeholder participation are critical to the success to these overall initiatives.