Creating a positive experience for customers is important in all industries, and this year’s annual AOA conference (Airport Operators Association) highlighted it’s no different in the aviation sector.

As an exhibitor, I was able to listen to all the topics being discussed, including one session focusing on the customer experience. A panel of architects, airport managers and academics debated the finer points of the ‘airport experience’, emphasising the importance of looking through customers’ eyes at what they actually experience – compared to what you want them to experience. Most people on the stage wanted to deliver an experience – a memorable time at the airport – whereas most people in the audience wanted to experience a frictionless and stress-free transit through an airport, and would be happy if they didn’t remember anything; ‘you don’t travel to an airport, you travel to a destination via an airport’ the audience offered.

I was genuinely impressed by the positive response from the audience to my CEO, Martin Rolfe’s keynote (and I’m not just saying that because of who he is!). He connected with the audience in understanding and discussing the complexities of airspace change and the need for a joined up and co-operative approach across the industry. The two videos he used demonstrated UK airspace connecting Europe to America and emphasised the hugely interconnected nature of air generated a lot of interest at the NATS stand.

I had the honour of meeting Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, who visited the stand and talked very positively about her last visit to our Swanwick control centre. She was very impressed by the technological change she saw. We took the opportunity to emphasise the pivotal role of the human in keeping the system running safely and efficiently now and the Human Factors work we are doing to develop the NATS Safety Culture Self Assessment App. She told us, ‘I love a good app’ and promised to download it!

The experience proved that beyond technology and process, people really are at the core of delivering successful outcomes.


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Andrew Lawson

A great day, the Baroness even took one of our NATS Safety Culture App brochures ( iOS and Android ) for in-depth study later on during the day.


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