We arrived at the airport 10 hours early, deliberately! Our kids begged us to take the red-eye out of Singapore so they could spend all day at Changi Airport. It is one of the top 20 busiest airports in the world. It easily serves nearly 52 million passengers annually, which is on par with New York City’s JFK, but that is where the similarity ends.
We have been in a lot of airports since we left to wander the globe in 2013. Madrid, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam were all notable. We loved the Long Beach, California airport so much, we are still talking about it although we departed from there over three years ago. Changi has rightfully taken its place in our legends and it earned every word.
We have not conducted case studies on why it works, or run any sort of needs analysis or statistics review. All we have is 10 hours of sheer joy, from the customer perspective.
Enjoying the Efficiency
We have never appreciated efficient systems more than at Changi. From the architectural layout between terminals to the very consciously designed flow of foot traffic, everything worked. The movies, in full theater seats, started on time. When a video game console was down, our son reported it with the push of a button and a friendly technician arrived minutes later.
The Koi pond feeding proceeded as scheduled, as well as the butterfly garden educational talks. Oh, and yes, the systems were in place for us to check-in 10 hours before our flight! Security screening is located at each gate so the only people in line were those on our flight! It took under two minutes to clear our family of five for an international jaunt. Genius.
Capitalizing on Excited Anticipation
Try to just imagine wanting to spend hour after hour at an airport whether you are arriving or departing. Now imagine the feeling you have right before you go on vacation. Somehow Changi not only maintains that excited anticipation customers feel but they build on it. How?
If you simply stand around looking lost, someone with an IPad around their neck shows up to help. If you even feel a question brewing in your mind, somehow assistance materializes. We have never experienced better customer response time in an airport, or anywhere for that matter. Not only were we anticipating our arrival in Singapore or our departure for Thailand, but we were also anticipating the next terminal. From the meditative kinetic rain sculpture in Terminal 1 to the Aviation Gallery in Terminal 3, the surprises just kept popping, creating a momentum that was contagious.
Deliberately Anticipating Every Need
The wide carpeted walkways, dotted with massage chairs, play areas, and snooze rooms, meant no crowds, back-ups, or lines. Every area we entered had room enough for all of us. Most of the amenities were free or had a minimal fee. Of course, if you go to the spa, gym, or the rooftop swimming pool where you can watch the planes take off, you pay a bit. The terminals are even set up so that much of what is available can be enjoyed without going through security. This means that in a “land starved” city-state like Singapore, local families can enjoy wide open, inspired spaces to spend time together.
Believe it or not, after arriving 10 hours prior to our flight, we had to scurry to our gate because we temporarily forgot we were at the airport and had somewhere to go!
Appreciating the Ease … and Clamoring for More
We would be hard-pressed to find a business model that wouldn’t benefit from the lessons we took away from this experience. Anticipate your customer’s every need by taking care of those you employ. Execute efficiently but without haste. Think about the light and beauty in your workspace but never sacrifice warmth. Most importantly, when people walk away, they should be clamoring for more, because of all of the above, but mostly because they feel good when they cross your path. Perhaps the lessons of Changi Airport transcend the business sector into good citizenship.
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Today’s Tweetable: Deliberately in The Space Between: Changi Airport