My most recent airport experience had me touchdown in Los Angeles. It consisted of a 26 hour flight with multiple destinations between my start and finish points. These pit stops – you sure could call them that – were so bland that I have no memory of the countless locations except for when I got lost riding giant escalators in the Singapore airport. Why can’t airports be more enjoyable? How can they be more enjoyable?
A solution to bridging airports closer to passengers can be achieved through the medium known as Social Media and progress has been made by the Brisbane Airport, who joined Facebook in early 2011.
A change is being attempted but isn’t fully embraced yet and I feel could be done better. This strategy of mine has no reward points or some other accumulated point system; it’s all about short and sweet on-the-spot prizes to be claimed.
1. The first step is to have the information readily accessible at all times. As Facebook is so heavily used, even by Australians,if paired with Twitter, it can be the perfect communication channel for reaching all the interested participants. Maybe also have the fall back to the old fashioned microphone and trumpets to announce a winner for anyone avoiding social media. The reason I promote social media is can be answered by a question: what airports don’t have free Wi-Fi? Or even have no public terminals? I predict an answer of 0 (although if I’m wrong don’t hesitate to let me know).
Now that we can communicate to our participants instantly, what is it that we want to do? Rather than produce a system that requires users to monitor progress and cash in for prizes at certain tiers, it’d be infinitely easier and more enjoyable to have quick giveaway competitions or the like.
It is worth noting that the more frequent passengers would like something more, something “meatier.” This strategy focuses on the broader community allowing people to dip their toes. It goes with the assumption that the few frequent travellers are already indulging in some other reward.
2. The final part of the recipe is about interaction, and here the potential is limitless, theoretically. On the Brisbane Airport’s Facebook page, the representative could post a picture with blank speech bubbles and ask for people to comment with a funny caption. The winner is determined by the number of “Likes” and earns a bottle of apple cider for example. Other ideas include:
- pull from a pool of names and have them draw a lucky dip
- spot a terrorist
- dedicate a corner to a Wheel of Fortune
- 100m sprint with a plane on the tarmac
- tug of war: man vs plane
Keeping it to short and sweet interactions where ideally anyone can enter with minimal effort would nurture an interactive community creating a memorable experience for anyone stopping by from any nationality.
If all else fails and a different perspective is desired, my favourite idea yet is to place 50 (the more the better) keywords in a hat with a room full of people. And when everyone is ready, launch the hat in the air and have everyone scramble for the notes and try to put a sentence together or see if they can come up with a fresh concept. It’s a bit messy… and is a slightly questionable approach, but it is a whole lot of fun.
There are many mutual benefits to be uncovered between passenger and employee with an open embrace of social media in the Brisbane airport. Even without considering the unpredictable things like discovering a more refined and better fitting travel path for tourists, incorporating a heavier interactive social media presence can, and will be, a fulfilling experience for all.