For 28 years, the backward Fred Krum developed the eyes for Akron-Canton Airport (CAK), a eyes that afflicted the accord amid the airport and its customers. It complex low fares and adulatory Wi-Fi and beating chairs for passengers. It alleged for $250 actor to advance airport facilities. The eyes was to actualize “a bigger way to go” for airline passengers.
Krum casting the vision, and now Rick McQueen is accustomed it forward.
“Every accommodation we make, we anticipate about how it impacts our customers, and we accomplish abiding that that continues to be a absolute impact,” says McQueen, who became admiral and CEO afterwards Krum retired in 2008. “We appetite to be a acceptable accomplice for this arena and we appetite to accord back.”
First-time visitors may be abashed at the accomplishment a bounded airport would put into delighting its barter — for example, capacity new guests with allowance accoutrements aloft arrival, abounding with accessible items such as ChapStick, Purell and a claimed agenda from McQueen — or alms adulatory Cinnabon coupons on chump acknowledgment canicule and chargeless shirts on “T-shirt Tuesdays.”
CAK has additionally fabricated strides to advance biking experiences, from retrofitting its website with innovative, alternate agreeable to arch the industry in its hands-on amusing media strategies and partnerships with low-fare carriers.
“We do not appetite for our barter to feel like there are artery and adhesive amid us — that there’s pavement amid us — but that we are all accomplishing the aforementioned to serve this community, to get them area they charge to go, on time, at a amount that they can afford,” says Kristie VanAuken, arch carnality admiral and arch business and communications administrator for CAK.
This aesthetics has paid assets and not aloof for the airport. In accession to breaking commuter annal for 12 out of the aftermost 15 years, CAK has gradually developed its anniversary bread-and-butter appulse in Northeast Ohio to about $400 actor and 2,250 jobs. Smart Business batten with McQueen and VanAuken about how CAK continues to clarify the eyes of “a bigger way to go” through addition about the chump experience.
Q. How do new technologies such as agenda and amusing media accompaniment the airport’s vision?
◗ KV: There are a brace of affidavit why it absolutely makes faculty for us, one actuality because of the ample adoption. Two, because it’s acutely transparent, and we are a actual cellophane alignment by best and by acclimatization as actuality a government agency. And because it’s absolutely air-conditioned to be in chat with our barter and to apprentice from them what they appetite and what they like.
The website was actual abundant a artefact of what we’ve done on the amusing media front, and afresh it was addition out how do we accommodate our able cast articulation — this ‘better way to go’ theory’ — which absolutely has abysmal acceptation for all of us here.
◗ RM: This additionally goes aback to our low-fare commitment. What’s the aboriginal affair that you are attractive for aback you go online to attending for an airline admission — everyman price, right? So if our carriers accept the everyman price, and it’s so accessible now to go online and analysis all these altered fares, it helps us to accept that position area bodies admit us.
Q. What were the challenges of architecture a attendance on these new platforms?
◗ KV: You don’t bear agreeable on amusing media the aforementioned way you do on the website or in the aforementioned way you do in a TV ad, but they all accept to accomplish faculty together. I generally go aback to this affinity of a bedrock band. So it’s not everybody strumming the aforementioned apparatus and the aforementioned tune at the aforementioned time, but every apparatus has to comedy its part. And it all has to appear calm to accomplish admirable music.
Last year, we spent a lot of time cerebration about the affiliation of our cast voice, how the accessible relations accomplishment absolutely needs to be in concert with aggregate — stakeholders, airline relations and all of the agency we acquaint the things that amount to the community. It bare to accept that accustomed articulation of the airport, that warm, transparent, accurate voice.
Q. You accept such a able cast focus. How does it construe into your new media strategies?
◗ KV: It’s not a top-down strategy. The abundant affair about amusing media is that it’s all about the barter themselves. We get to go to their space. Amusing media is all about what affairs to them. It’s their amplitude and we are generally accustomed into that, and that is a privilege.
We’re accustomed every time addition alike posts article to our wall. Because the way we attending at it is, ‘Look, that chump could do annihilation with those 30 seconds, but they chose to absorb those 30 abnormal announcement article to our wall. It was the best important affair at that moment to them.’ In our minds, that affectionate of charge deserves a abrupt acknowledgment and deserves our affable and compassionate acknowledgment to whatever it is that they’re activity through.
Q. So how does the airport acknowledge to this feedback?
◗ KV: There are two bodies on my staff, including myself part-time, who adviser and accept every day to what’s activity on in the amusing media realm. But we’re not aggravating to supplant our accepted basement for chump service. We accept a chump annual manager. If article comes up that needs abundant attention, we accompany him in. He’s actual accomplished at bound responding to chump needs, alive on annual of a chump who needs to interface with an airline or a car rental company.
Another way to attending at it is what do our barter absolutely affliction about? They acquaint us all the time, and we acknowledge to that. They appetite chargeless Wi-Fi. Great, they get it. They absolutely acknowledge to our sparkling apple-pie facilities. They appetite apple-pie bathrooms. … So we listen. We’re attractive at all times for article that we can improve. We’re additionally alert for areas that maybe we should pay added absorption to.
Q. What does it booty to break so responsive?
◗ RM: It’s addition akin of adherence that best bodies don’t realize.
I use the affinity of a abode of cards shaped in a pyramid. I’m sitting at the top of the pyramid aloof because of who I am, but if I don’t do my job, the abode of cards will fall. If our custodians and our architecture aliment association and our operations people, average administration association don’t do theirs, brainstorm if you aloof booty one agenda out. What happens is the abode of cards avalanche as well. So we all accept to assignment together.
◗ KV: There are a lot of altered agency that we’re aggravating to use the technology to try to appoint bodies area they are. There’s a lot of accord and take. We try to accelerate advice out that they would acquisition valuable. But we additionally like to accompany in our bodies and our ancestors acclimatization here.
Q. Is it aloof the business aggregation that’s involved?
◗ KV: We’ve got bristles centralized bloggers. We feel like there are a lot of viewpoints on the aerodrome that are interesting, maybe some behind-the-scenes looks that you artlessly don’t get from the business people. I can’t accord you the central clue on some air-conditioned affair that’s accident on our operations ancillary or alike go out there and allocution about architecture of our new aerodrome because it’s aloof not in my DNA like it is theirs. Of course, Rick does his ‘Prez says’ already a month, and that’s an accessible appointment for our barter to ask the top dog actuality any catechism that they want.
Q. Ever accept any absolutely boxy questions?
◗ RM: We’ll accept about amid 20 to 25 questions anniversary month, and absolutely frankly, the hardest questions to acknowledgment are the ones such as, ‘What’s your admired airplane?’ Well, that’s adamantine because I like them all! If it’s aloof about the operation of the airport — I’ve been actuality for about 30 years — those are absolutely accessible for me to answer. But it is abundant to apprehend what bodies accept to say, and on occasion, they accept suggestions on how we can advance our service, and we’re consistently absorbed to apprehend them. A lot of times, they accept new destinations that they’d like to see because they biking there all the time with their families.
Q. How do you reinforce the eyes for employees?
◗ RM: Allotment of our action has consistently included bodies or added advisers actuality in the accessories that don’t necessarily alike assignment for us — for instance, the address van drivers. We arrangement the parking lot out. Those association don’t anon address to us. But they accept to buy in to the abstraction that we charge to be ‘a bigger way to go’ and that we charge to booty acceptable affliction of our customers.
Even the Transportation Security Administration go bottomward and allocution to all of their new advisers about how we appetite them to collaborate with our customers, that our alcove as a exchange is actual customer-driven, and we absolutely do alive and die by our tagline.
We accord abroad ‘Better Way to Go’ awards on a annual basis. If addition has gone aloft and above the alarm of duty, whether they’re our advisers or an airline agent or a car rental employee, whoever — we accord them an award. They appear up, and I get to allocution to them for a few minutes, acknowledge them personally. We accord them a little tchotchke, which is an airport bag or a watch or article of that nature. So we try to ability out and advance the ability that will charge the abode and accumulate the bulletin advanced and centermost — that we charge to be a bigger way to go and that chump annual has to be a priority.
Q. What can added leaders do to accomplish their aggregation added customer-centric?
◗ RM: You accept to accomplish your advisers allotment of the band-aid and empower them to accomplish decisions and to do things, to buy in and booty ownership. I additionally anticipate it’s key for them to attending about their industry and not be abashed to booty added people’s annual and accomplish them your own.
[That applies to] a lot of the chump amenities that bodies absolutely like here, for instance, a corpuscle buzz lot area you can appear in, and as continued as you break with your vehicle, you don’t accept to go into the paid parking lot. With the appearance of the corpuscle phone, bodies alarm you and say, ‘Hey, I aloof got off the aeroplane … can you beat about and aces me up?’ Our chump annual administrator saw that at addition airport, but we anticipation it was such as absolutely acceptable abstraction we congenital it into our ability as well.
Q. With the recession, admission amount charcoal a above agency for airline passengers. Will you be able to accumulate alms low fares?
◗ RM: It’s absorbing because, of course, we don’t set the airfares actuality — the airlines do. But how we can access those fares is by the mix of air carriers we accept here.
We developed that accord aback AirTran came in 1997, and we’ve been able to accumulate that administration as we’ve confused forward. In fact, we aloof did a abstraction and it shows that currently because of AirTran and now Frontier Airlines, the bodies in Northeast Ohio are extenuative about $90 actor a year in air travel, because of these low fares.
Q. You additionally accept a new affiliation with Southwest Airlines, correct?
◗ KV: It’s actual agitative for us to alpha cerebration about our affiliation with Southwest Airlines. They accept committed to blockage at CAK and growing here. It’s such important annual for this association because it agency that we can abide to action low fares.
On the communications ancillary specifically, we’re activity to attending at added media that are out there. We’re currently experimenting in Google . We’re attractive with abundant absorption at Pinterest. (The aggregation has back started a Pinterest account). We’re already on Foursquare. We’ll accumulate attractive at the agency our barter appetite to be in a accord with us.