Airports are no longer just places for passengers to wait for flights. They are dynamic and constantly evolving to meet the everchanging expectations of travelers. Today’s airports are unique enterprises, home to hundreds of businesses and organizations and the workplace of tens of thousands of badged employees who all interface with guests. To bring all entities together to communicate effectively and to create a unified guest-centric approach, PHL established its Guest Experience (GX) Department in late 2019.
“We want our guests to make PHL their airport of choice so that we collectively thrive,” said GX Director Leah Douglas (right, leading a virtual art demonstration in the airport's B/C Connector). “To do that, we need to understand what our passengers’ expectations are and decide as an airport-wide team the best means to meet and exceed those expectations.”
Douglas and Assistant Director Elizabeth Moselle (above, with Southwest Airlines employees) work in tandem to foster positive relationships with all airport operators and Division of Aviation departments because to the public, any individual that wears an airport badge represents PHL; there is no differentiation.
As a way to keep organizations within the PHL community abreast of Division of Aviation and stakeholder activities, Douglas and Moselle worked on the creation of the GX Steering Committee and GX Stakeholder Council. Key leaders from the airport’s largest stakeholders would be invited to participate. “We spent a lot of time identifying priorities at the outset. GX surveyed stakeholders and were pleased to find their feedback very much in line with what the airport was gathering from our customer surveys,” said Moselle.
The launch of the Steering Committee and Stakeholder Council was expedited in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgency to help facilitate the recovery of the airport, airlines, and the food and retail program.
“The Stakeholder Council and Steering Committees have proven to be invaluable, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic because it has required a high level of engagement between the Division of Aviation and airport stakeholders to collectively address urgent issues like facility preparedness, pandemic operations and airport and airline recovery,” said Douglas.
Through regularly scheduled meetings, members learn about current Division of Aviation and stakeholder initiatives and updates; review passenger/customer insights; ask questions; and collaboratively find solutions to continually improve the guest experience.
"The members of the Stakeholder Council and the Steering Committee are incredibly busy, yet meeting attendance is robust,” said PHL CEO Chellie Cameron, who co-chairs both groups. “We are all part of the airport ecosystem and, in order for PHL to be successful, we all need to communicate with each other and be accountable.”
“The meetings give everyone the opportunity to speak with members of the PHL community they might not otherwise have a chance to,” noted newly appointed Council Co-Chair Lakshman Amaranayaka. Amaranayaka is Vice President of PHL Hub Operations for American Airlines, a position formerly held by Jim Moses, who recently transitioned to lead American’s team at DFW.
Looking ahead, GX is working to pilot a virtual self-service information program; airport-wide employee conduct standards; develop an airport employee recognition program; introduce additional tools for collecting guest feedback and use that data to drive organizational strategies.
“As a result of our efforts, in a short period of time we have built a stronger collaborative infrastructure at PHL, which has enabled us to coordinate terminal interventions and actions with greater efficiency and impact,” said Cameron. “We are looking forward to continued growth and success for all airport and guest related issues.”