Experiences at the airport: A master thesis regarding how the use of experience economy and atmospherics can improve the ‘passenger experience’ in the air-side terminal

Trine Susanne Johansen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This thesis provides a presentation of theories regarding the pyramid of customer needs, experience economy, atmospherics and airport shopping motivation. Relevant literature regarding the airport service quality is also presented. An analysis of what passengers find most important at airports, what activities they prefer to do in the air-side terminal, how atmospherics affect passengers’ experiences, as well as an identification of airport shopping motivations and airport shopper types, has been presented. All of these parts help provide an understanding of passengers’ need and wants, and hence provide insight into how airport operators can improve the passenger experience by using experience economy and atmospherics. Methods of analysis, besides using secondary data sources, include the qualitative methods of interviews and a focus group, in addition to a quantitative e-survey. These methods have been used in order to map and discuss passengers’ opinions and viewpoints regarding spending time in the air-side terminal. The data and information gathered were analyzed and multiple interesting results were obtained. Overall, this thesis finds that passengers do care a great deal about efficiency and speed, but that this is far from the only important elements at an airport. Comfort, interesting activities and a pleasant atmosphere all matter a great deal in the passenger experience. By taking advantage of concepts from the experience economy, together with consistent and purposeful use of atmospheric cues, airport operators can transform the time spent at the air-side terminal from a dull wait, into an exciting and fun experience. Naturally, what passengers value most will differ, but in general it is believed that it will benefit both passengers and airports if experience economy and atmospherics are used to a greater extent. Passengers will have better experiences, while the airports can increase customer satisfaction and even brand loyalty. Limitations of this thesis include that there should have been more respondents so that the results would be more generalizeable, and that there should have been a wider age range to make the result more representative. Additionally, data collection at airports would have been preferred. However this was proven to not be possible due to airport regulations.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages224