Putting customers at the heart of operations is a key focus for Leeds Bradford Airport. Joanna Wild, LBA’s new Chief Commercial Officer, explains how the airport is looking to build on its core values
We’re immensely proud to welcome thousands of passengers to Bradford and the wider Yorkshire region through Leeds Bradford Airport each year and it’s hugely important to us that high quality customer service is at the core of everything we do. From ensuring our teams give a warm Yorkshire welcome 24/7, to constantly maintaining and improving our facilities.
It’s a really interesting time for air travel as technology and customer preferences are changing fast and our job is to react and respond to these trends accordingly. There is greater demand for an all-round smoother passenger experience, which can be satisfied by investment in smarter technology but also by enhancing our retail and lounge offering to a wide variety of passengers. This could be achieved by having an improved ‘grab-and-go’ option for business travellers or by developing greater destination experiences for leisure flyers who have more time on their hands.
Back to basics
In order to continually strengthen passenger experience, the basics of the airport need to be delivered. It is integral that we maintain clean, functional facilities across the terminal building; from check-in desks and eateries, to restrooms and floors, achieving high standards across these areas, combined with regular updates to lighting, paintwork, signage, tiles and ceiling panels, is the cornerstone to delivering exceptional customer service. I really believe that having the basics in order, serves to boost a sense of pride both for passengers and staff at the airport.
Customer patterns change all the time and these inevitably impact the retail and commercial landscape at airports. As part of this shift, we are seeing an appetite from customers for airports to have a greater ‘destination’ feel.
Naturally, I am excited by this and we are exploring ways to fully utilise technology to position the airport as an exciting place to travel from, whether this is bringing online shopping into lounges or allowing customers to pre-book dining experiences in our airport’s restaurants.
In the short term, we are working to develop our passenger retail experience within the terminal. In 2019, this was heralded by the opening of fashion retailer Accessorize as well as by the launch of InMotion’s first flagship store for the UK. Both new additions signal exciting times for the airport’s future retail offering, with plans to introduce more recognised names in the near future. Being able to bring high quality retailers to the airport is testament to the ambitions that we share with all our partner stores in creating a destination airport.
Hand-in-hand with our commercial offering, are also working hard to improve our lounge facilities at the airport, for both holiday makers and those travelling for business. Foreign investment has always been strong for companies across the Yorkshire region and, as such, we feel it is important to provide a suitable and attractive environment for frequent flyers. As the scope of Leeds Bradford Airport business travel grows, we intend to develop new initiatives to make travel through the airport as smooth and efficient as possible.
Another key focus is the airport’s capacity and the number and frequency of routes to both popular holiday destinations, such as the Canary Islands and Turkey, and also to cities across the EU for business travellers. Additionally we are looking to untap the potential of more trans-Atlantic flights to the US and Canada. We hope to be able to announce further details of these route expansions before too long.
There is a big future for automation at airports and we already have a number of self-service systems in place. However, we’re also exploring new technology such as facial recognition, enhanced biometrics to reduce queuing and mobile phone connectivity to make the passenger journey through our airport as smooth and efficient as possible.
Whilst it is fundamental that our basic facilities management is flawless, embracing technology is also key to the next stage of improving customer service at LBA. It is widely understood that automation will play a key part in this, so whilst there are already a number of self-service systems in place throughout LBA, we are hoping to expand these services further to support the steady flow of passengers. It’s an exciting time across the aviation industry and with the introduction of 3D baggage scanners, our quiet terminal initiative, facial recognition, advanced biometrics and greater mobile connectivity, there are many ways that passenger experience, and indeed wellbeing, can be enhanced.
Ensuring we meet and exceed customers’ expectations is an ever-evolving process and, working alongside our partners and by incorporating customer feedback along the way, we hope to be able to deliver a first class service at every stage of the passenger experience.