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Uncovering the traveller’s journey to improve the airport experience

New Zealand Customs Service

How might we improve the airport experience?

There’s lots at stake at a New Zealand airport.

Tourism is one of our country’s top earning industries. Over two million people from around the world visit each year. The airport is often the first and last experience they have with New Zealand.

We’ve also got a pretty special ecosystem we need to protect. And in an increasingly turmoiled world, even our small island country isn’t completely safe from outside threats.

Incidents at the airport put our economy, environment and wellbeing at stake.
How might we reduce travel anxieties to create a fantastic experience for visitors from the moment they touch down until they take off back home again, while also keeping our borders and native flora and fauna safe?

We partnered with New Zealand Customs Service to craft solutions to this question.

Uncovering the traveller’s journey

Along with key members of the Customs team, we spent two weeks living and breathing in the people, places and systems at Auckland Airport.

We followed hundreds of people through check-in, customs and the security gates in order to map out the customer journey.

We had meaningful conversations with travellers from all over to the world to gain insight into major pain and pleasure points. We learned what was working well — and not so well — and uncovered opportunities to make the experience better.

During the research phase, we worked in close collaboration with the Customs team. By working with us, they gained a deep understanding of how their work impacted a visitor’s experience.

Making the airport a pleasant experience for all

While new technologies like the SmartGate system are systematically streamlining processes, we were interested in how we could improve the human experience at the airport.

We came up with solutions to reduce common anxieties amongst nervous travellers. For example, we developed a way-finding system that kept people from getting lost, which is one of the biggest anxieties people have at the airport.

We also worked with airport professionals to help build their capabilities to interact with travellers in empathetic ways, while also doing the important job of keeping New Zealand safe.

The impact of our work is still bearing fruit. As the Auckland airport continues to put our recommendations into action, the arrival and departure experience is improving in big ways.

The ultimate outcome? There are more happy travellers – which means a thriving tourism industry and a world class reputation around the world.