First AND last impressions are for a lifetime. Think back to your latest airport experience here in the Caribbean – was it a good one? Did the arrivals process set the tone of excitement and fun and make you even more thrilled to be there? Or did it wear you out to the point where the first thing you did your hotel was vent to the front desk staff and flop on the bed in frustration? Did the departures process ruin what would have otherwise been exceptional holiday memories or did it enhance what you’d already seen and done?Airports are no longer just a utility for moving from point A to B, they’re a way to create a structure for the tourism experience to a captive audience.Click To Tweet
While Caribbean airports can’t compete with behemoths like Dubai’s international airport that offers a fully equipped gym, an indoor swimming pool, and world-class shopping, or Kuala Lumpur International’s indoor rainforest, or Incheon’s golf course, there are things that we can do in the Caribbean to set the tone of fun, adventure, and excitement for our arriving guests and make sure that those departing want to come back.
Whether your island’s airports are single terminal outdoor affairs or air conditioned with plenty of room to spare, aside from there obvious ‘keep it clean, comfortable, friendly, and provide working, free wifi for everyone to upload their vacations with’ here are some ideas inspired by success stories that are worth considering.
Live Music: Trinidad and Tobago has been known to fill their terminals with steel pan bans and stilt walkers during carnival season and social media always lights up with with live Facebook videos and Instagram stories before the guests have even stepped out of the airport. Further afield, Nashville International Airport in Tennessee has been hosting live performances since 1988 with over 100 performances a year on four different stages throughout the complex.
Photo Opps: A small stage, a scenic backdrop, a few props, a catchy logo or your tourist board’s hashtag is all you need to create an instagrammable moment as soon as your guests arrive or right before they leave. This is also a great way to promote your own Instagram handle. Guests will more easily remember to tag their photos during their vacation and then you can regram their authentic, user-generated content in your own Instagram feed.
Sponsored Spaces: An an indoor playground provided by a family-focused resort, a cooking demonstration set up by a local restaurant, relaxing corners evocative of spas, there are plentiful ways to promote what your island has to offer while easing the stress of travel through entertainment and relaxation.
Share Your Culture: A good example of this is Honolulu. Local hula groups from school-aged to professional perform several times a week inside the airport and set the tone for the Aloha spirit. Whether it’s ever-popular coconut shucking demonstrations, art exhibits, dance, or music, sharing your Caribbean culture with those arriving and reminding those departing of what they’re leaving is always a good thing.
Provide Information: The little pamphlet stands against walls with countless rows of tour options aren’t enough. Think about the boring parts of arriving to your island: the wait to get your passport stamped, the wait at customs lines, the wait for your bag… spice it up and advertise in tasteful ways. Have a TV monitor showcasing your latest island video footage or display large images with food, adventures, resorts – get your guests excited and curious about what there is to do!
Research proves that the more satisfying the experience in your airport (via DKMA) the more likely people are to come back, so whether coming or going, first and last impressions are for a lifetime.
Picture via Princess Juliana International Airport