Small steps to success: Improving the passenger experience with free data collection

By Dimitri Coll, Vice President, Airport Customer Experience and Tim Canada, Vice President, Business Solutions, Tatvam

Passenger experience and why it matters

A growing number of airport executives realize that measuring passenger experience is a proven way to increase revenue and grow their airport business. In fact, according to ACI research, every 1% increase in global average passenger satisfaction generates an additional 1.5% in non-aeronautical revenue. Major airports are now creating Customer Experience (CX) departments, fully dedicated to ensuring that every action taken by the airport has the best interest of the customer in mind.

In a recent interview, Clayton White, Customer Experience Manager at San Antonio International Airport, said the passenger experience has “expanded beyond the transaction” and that “the customer is at the center of every decision we make at the airport”. Another example, which was recently recognized for its exemplary passenger experience efforts, is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Steve Mayers, Director of Customer Experience, ADA and Title VI Coordinator, is quoted as saying that “customer experience drives more revenue than customer service.” By being present “before, during and after” the passenger travel experience, the airport is in a better position to anticipate customer needs and generate non-aeronautical revenue.

Both airports have shown incredible dedication to the passenger experience and as a result have received major recognition from ACI as well as their passengers. Hartsfield-Jackson has received three awards in recent years (Best airport in North America for more than 40 million passengers per year (2020 and 2021) and Best hygiene measures in North America (2020)), while the San Antonio International Airport’s CX-centric mentality has also earned them three awards (Best Airport in North America for 5-15 Million Passengers Per Year (2020) and Best Hygiene Measures in North America (2020 and 2021), in addition to the prestigious “ACI Director General’s Roll of Excellence Award”, awarded to airports that have won multiple awards over a five-year period over the past 10 years).

Both airports have recognized the importance of the passenger experience as an important business driver and have created dedicated CX departments that go “beyond the transaction”.

Passenger opinion at the heart of the ASQ program

Airports like San Antonio and Atlanta, and many others around the world, recognize the importance of effectively listening to passengers as a way to manage and improve the customer experience. Since 2006, Airport Service Quality (ASQ) surveys have remained the industry standard for solicited feedback that is central to the KYC strategy, continuing to be the primary metric for measuring and benchmarking the airport passenger experience. As Steve Mayers mentioned, “Due to the academic approach taken by ASQ, we consider ASQ’s reports to be the most credible insight we can obtain into the experience of our passengers.” Additionally, Clayton White shared a similar sentiment, saying the ASQ survey is extremely valuable to them as it provides “an insight into where we stand compared to other airports.”

Complementary tools to track passenger experience data

While ASQ surveys continue to be an essential part of a passenger experience strategy, some airports are also finding ways to enhance day-to-day customer experience tactics with complementary tools. One such tool is Tatvam, a real-time qualitative feedback tracking product. Airports use Tatvam as a way to monitor daily comments left by passengers from unsolicited channels like online reviews and social media. Tatvam is designed to collect real-time data and use AI and sentiment analysis to recognize patterns in what passengers are saying and feeling. It has become a go-to resource for multiple airports looking to take quick and tactical action to address immediate passenger experience needs.

Steve Mayers said: “Tatvam helps us determine how often people are talking about all the different touchpoints measured by ASQ, in real time, so we can better manage day-to-day issues and address potential harm. to reputation that can have longer term consequences for the customer to live.” He went on to explain that customer satisfaction has increased since airport staff can respond to customer concerns more quickly, helping to increase the ratings they receive from their quarterly ASQ field surveys.

In addition to real-time value, Tatvam also gives airports even more data to analyze, so they can access more insights into the passenger experience and gain insight to make better decisions. For example, Tatvam gathers social mentions, online reviews, comments from external surveys, and even collects comments from online reviewers left on the pages of third-party vendors like dealerships and car rental agencies. This feature has specifically enabled the San Antonio International Airport team to provide added value to its vendor partners by giving them insight into what passengers are saying about them. “We are able to collect real-time information about our vendors and relay that information to them,” said Clayton White, chief customer experience officer.

Go green: ASQ tablets

It’s an open secret, but nearly 80% of ASQ airport members collect surveys on tablets. Airports can therefore download collected surveys at any time of the day and have immediate access to live raw data and feedback. Monitoring solicited and unsolicited channels becomes a very powerful combination for managing operations and developing a long-term strategy to excel in customer experience.

In today’s world, it has never been more important to ensure that your airport is present on all the channels used by your passengers. Finding practical, reliable and affordable ways to achieve this, as well as managing and acting on the results, can dramatically improve the passenger experience. Airports like SAT and ATL are combining approaches to improving the passenger experience to increase passenger satisfaction scores, earn rewards and generate more revenue.


Tim Canada is currently Vice President of Business Solutions at NetServ Applications as well as the Principal Product Owner of NetServs proprietary product Tatvam. In both roles, Tim has worked with customer experience-focused companies around the world, overseeing complex IT projects and the development of custom technology interfaces. Additionally, through the Tatvam solution, Tim has extensive experience integrating data and building robust data intelligence and reporting environments to help businesses measure customer sentiment to improve the customer experience.

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