What does it take to win the hearts and minds of passengers? Of course, smooth, speedy and convenient airport operations are a crucial first step. But it’s the little extras that make passengers remember – and prefer – your airport. Maryan Brouwer is program manager of passenger experience at Schiphol. She and her team are constantly searching for ways to make passengers smile. But as Maryan explains, the entire Schiphol community plays a crucial role in their success.
Published on: 14 July 2020
Maryan and her team are part of the Aviation Marketing, Cargo and Customer Experience (ACC) department. Every day, she and her team of colleagues and interns study the ways that Schiphol can be more attractive to passengers, and make their experience more enjoyable. ‘It goes without saying that Schiphol is dedicated to high quality operations,’ Maryan says. ‘But we create strategies to go that extra mile and surprise passengers with great extras that they never expected.’
And it all starts with listening to passenger needs. ‘We are constantly asking passengers for feedback, so that we can learn what’s really important to them. We also physically walk through the entire passenger journey to identify needs. Then, we use design thinking – and a lot of empathy – to develop a prototype solution, and create a living lab to test it out,’ Maryan explains. The process has led to popular features at the airport, like ‘Security Nannies’ who keep an eye on kids while their parents complete the security check. Maryan is also responsible for ideas like the one-of-a-kind Baby Care Lounge for parents of infants, and the Airport Park, which offers a playful peek at nature inside the airport.
Creating solutions together
But empathy for passenger needs is only half the story, Maryan explains. Solutions need to not only work for passengers, but also for the many different teams that keep Schiphol running smoothly. ‘One of the most exciting things about my work is that it is a truly horizontal team. We need to work closely with all our Schiphol colleagues – from facilities services to security to gate personnel – to ensure that our solutions are best for passengers, but also best for airport operations,’ Maryan says. ‘We often add extra members to our team from other departments, so that we can focus on the passenger experience together.’
Security Nannies are one great example of the importance of teamwork. The living lab to test the system had a double focus: gauging passenger response to the new service, and ensuring that it in no way interrupted security processes or lengthened the time of the security check. ‘Here, it was crucial to work with our security colleagues. Our aim was to make sure the security process didn’t last even one second longer, while also helping parents have a less stressful experience during the check,’ Maryan says. And it was quite a success. Parents loved the extra helping hand, and even say they wished the nannies could help out all the way to the gate.
Extra focus on hygiene
Long before the coronavirus struck the Netherlands, Maryan and her team started working on extra hygiene measures at Schiphol. ‘Our passengers told us that hygiene was high on their list of priorities when travelling,’ Maryan explains. ‘We did research and spoke to a variety of departments within Schiphol to uncover ways to add extra hand sanitising zones and other measures to make travellers from around the world feel more comfortable.’
But after the outbreak, hygiene is no longer a “nice to have”, but rather an integral part of airport operations. ‘We’re taking the new travel regulations extremely seriously. As part of that, we’re putting Sanitising Service Points at very strategic places throughout the airport, so that passengers can sanitise their hands every time they have a physical interaction with airport personnel or materials,’ Maryan says. ‘Over the next few months, we’ll monitor use of all the different service points, and adjust their placement based on usage.’
Beyond the basics
But Maryan emphasises that Schiphol aims to go far beyond the basics when it comes to passenger experience. Using design thinking and lots of creativity, she and her team aim to develop the most memorable experiences for passengers at Schiphol. ‘The best way to stand out is to go above and beyond expectations,’ she says. One good example is the plan to not only offer hand sanitizer throughout Schiphol, but also to build Full-Service Sanitisation Service Points, with multiple products and services and a Hygiene Hostess that offers hygiene tip and tricks. This will make it even clearer to passengers how seriously Schiphol takes their safety.
And as always, Maryan will continue to work closely with her team, and her other colleagues at Schiphol. ‘I’m very lucky to have a dedicated, passionate and creative team of young professionals who love to use their expertise in design thinking and industrial design to come up with out-of-the-box solutions,’ she says. ‘And we will always work in close cooperation with our colleagues at Schiphol to balance passenger needs with Schiphol’s high operational standards.’
Maryan is already teaming up with some key airlines and hopes to extend this collaboration to create a door-to-door passenger experience that embodies the best that travel has to offer. ‘The more we work together, the more we can restore traveller confidence and create truly unique travel experiences that passengers can’t wait to try again.