John Glenn Columbus International Airport

Centrally located in Ohio, John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) offers a diverse mix of airlines and services over 3.5 million enplaned passengers per year. After a long-term relationship with the Business Development & Communications team where we designed marketing collateral for both internal and external use, we were asked to create a wall sign to promote the concessions & retail division. We knew the placement wouldn’t garner the engagement they were wanting, so we recommended an engagement study to bring focus to the new marketing campaign.

Passengers in the ticketing area

Our Approach

01 Immersion

There’s no better way to understand a person than to walk in their shoes. During the busy holiday rush season, we spent ample time observing passengers as they moved through their airport experience from parking to take-off. At first, we weren’t sure which actions were relevant and which could be considered a “one off”, but over time patterns began to emerge in passenger behavior. We noted differences based on the audience type (business travelers, leisure travelers, and families), and began in-person interviews to get more information. Following up with email surveys to thousands of passengers and loyalty members, we were able to paint a clear picture of what motivated and frustrated passengers in their travels.

02 Inclussion

Passengers aren’t the only ones who have a voice; the concessions and retail shops pay a percentage of their profits into a Marketing Fund that promotes purchases within the airport. Their vested interest in the campaign, plus the overall airport goals, meant it was important for us to interview all of the tenant managers as well as key leadership staff for the airport. Their experiences and viewpoints helped us to take the passenger feedback and focus it into areas that were both feasible and reasonable.

Notes and report data visualations

03 Data

Quantitative data brings great balance to interviews and survey results. We collaborated with the Technologies department at CMH to draw insights from their newly upgraded wi-fi system. Real-time tracking of devices showed us passenger flows, hot spots, and pause points in their travel through the airport. Overlaying that data with a map of the current advertising placements produced an easy-to-follow visual of locations that needed attention. In addition, we collected data on website and social media statistics to include in the overall picture of the user experience.

04 Mapping

Taking the mountain of data and making sense of the information is more than just organizing it by topic or timeline. Pulling from psychology research, human interaction best practices, and marketing experience, the relevant data started to shape itself into a hybrid experience map, showing the audience personas and demographics, the passenger experience, and the service blueprint through each phase of the travel process. By balancing feedback with data, we identified clear goals for the future of the marketing campaign.

Post-it notes and a white board

Our Results

A resource guide, complete with research quotes, recommendations, and the experience map, was given to CMH to act as a guidepost as they move forward with the 2017 campaign adjustments. Some recommendations were implemented immediately, such as changes to the website and internal signage.

A binder and passenger research data