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Case study—

Improving a traveller’s journey



    How might we improve the airport experience for
    international travellers?


    Developing staff capabilities and designing way finding systems to quell common travel-
    induced anxieties

A customer experience with national impact

There is a lot 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 the first and last experience they have
with New Zealand.

We’ve also got a pretty special natural 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 find solutions.

Uncovering the traveller’s experience

Along with key members of the Customs team, we spent two weeks living and breathing 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.

“A few steps aside from the streams of humanity, the pain of leaving, the joy of arriving, as well as boredom and ill-humour. Airports without people are like an empty stage.”

charles hackelsberger, politics at the airport

We had in-depth 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.

Meeting needs by humanizing the airport

While new technologies like the SmartGate system are 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 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 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 New Zealand tourism industry and a world class reputation.