Transporting people to new experiences: the role of airport spaces
Losekoot, E; Wright, JN
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This paper considers the changing role of national airports. Traditionally national airports are seen as a symbol of national pride and act as a base for a country’s flag-carrier airline, but in recent years there has been a shift to a more customer-focused, marketdriven facility resembling an amalgamation of retail mall and theme park whose goal is to promote a destination to the world while making a profit for its owners. This research will be based on Auckland airport, New Zealand, but will also be drawing on other global examples. It will reflect on the physical environment using Bitner’s (1992) ‘servicescape’ model which evaluates the different cues both customers and employees receive from the environment they find themselves in. The paper will also review the academic knowledge surrounding the processes which help to create, map and manage the customer experience for the travelling public (Flieβ & Kleinaltenkamp, 2004; Langeard, Bateson, Lovelock & Eigler, 1981), and the way in which a national culture is represented in order to create an ‘experience’ for the traveller (Morgan, Lugosi & Ritchie, 2010; Walls, Okumus, Wang & Kwun, 2011). In conclusion, this paper will suggest ways in which airports can use their physical environment to satisfy the many needs of those sharing and co-creating experiences in this space as temporary members of a transient tribe (de Botton, 2010). This is important as airports and airlines are now operating in a very financially-transparent environment where the consumer has the opportunity to compare and contrast different offerings and to choose the one which delivers the best value experience according to their personal decision criteria (Gummesson, 2008; Vargo & Lusch 2004). A unique, authentic and positive experience will lead to the development of a loyal (and therefore more profitable) client base for the airline and the airport in question.