Just because visitors and passengers pass through airports, it doesn’t mean that airports should pass over passengers. Airports have generally developed a monopoly mentality. Customers don’t have a choice, and many don’t bother enough to make the experience irresistible.

Frustrated with this, maestro marketer Seth Godin recently blogged about the mistakes airports make and what businesses can learn from this. Here are three of his insights followed by three of my own, as I’ve been through about as many airports as I have had hot dinners.

  • Who’s in charge? Airport CEOs never seem to be accountable or even appear when mistakes are made. If the person at the top doesn’t lead then airport staff will become rudderless.
  • Spontaneity is lost. Imagine an airport worker supplying an extension cord and a power strip to cater to a group of travellers waiting for their turn at a power outlet. Unlikely.
  • We’re not all the same. Personalize the travel experience. Effective organizations treat everyone differently, not just first-class customers.
  • Nothing is free. At airports we have to pay for just about everything, and there are still airports where you have to pay for internet access! Airports need to help us stay connected.
  • A place for products. Successful companies know the importance of product placement. Airports should take the opportunity to exude their city or country’s culture so that even transferring visitors can get a taste of what they’re missing.
  • We need a disrupter. Related to Seth’s first point, we need someone to take the lead on airports. We have great airline leaders like Sir Richard Branson, but we need a Boris Johnson-type personality to rustle a few feathers in the airport industry.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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