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Improving passenger experience: Yoga mats, Midsummer revelries and Finnish-themed selfies

Published
2.6.2014 at 08:26
Helsinki Airport’s new TravelLab initiative brings ideas from the drawing board to the passengers. Prototypes of potential new services are created at the airport and developed further according to the response they get.

Some of the ideas may make travel smoother; some introduce completely new services for passengers to use, and some may just make travelling more fun.

Finavia’s TravelLab is a globally unique project where passengers get to test new service concepts and share their views on them.

Yoga and Pilates classes, a traditional Finnish Midsummer festival, Finnish-themed backdrop for souvenir selfies, “Taste of Finland” pop up restaurants and a crash-course to Finnish coffee culture are among the ideas tested in the first batch of TravelLab prototypes over the summer. TravelLab also tests more practical services, like Service Menu info screens that offer tips that help passengers make the most of their stay at the airport.

“With TravelLab, we do not ask passengers what they would like to do at the airport. We do something with them, and then ask how it made them feel,” explains Ville Haapasaari, Helsinki Airport Director at Finavia Corporation. Finavia is a forerunner on developing the travel experience at airports.

Passenger feedback is one source for the ideas being tested, but a significant number of them have been created during Quality Hunters 2013 initiative, a joint of Helsinki Airport and Finnair, where a global community of travellers were invited to think of ways to improve the air travel experience.

“Our goal is to create genuine experiences and evaluates real effects,” Haapasaari continues.

In TravelLab, Finavia, the operator of Helsinki Airport, has collected a multidisciplinary team of experts, who will pilot the experiences for all of the airport’s passenger segments. The team uses a specific ranking system to record passengers’ responses and determine whether the prototypes have the potential to become established services.

“Our goal is to create genuine experiences and evaluates real effects,” Haapasaari continues.

TravelLab puts transfer experiences to the test

Launched in May, TravelLab has been operating at the airport for a few weeks. So far, passengers have had the opportunity to take selfies with a Finnish-themed backdrop and share their pics with the hashtag #selfiefromHEL.

Since May 22, passengers have had the chance to salute the sun and bust out a few stretches while watching planes land and take off on the runways through the windows of the light-filled “Kainuu” space located near gate 30.

Airport Yoga Schedule

The newly opened “Kainuu” is an airy space for exercise and relaxation, which makes use of elements from Finnish nature. The soft, dark green carpets create an effect of a mossy forest floor, perfect for rolling out a matching yoga mat. The décor in this relaxing area features wooden plank and smooth natural stone floors as well as quirky lounge seats covered with traditional woven rugs.

In the coming weeks passengers will have the opportunity to sample Finnish coffee culture in TravelLab’s Gate Roastery as well as experience a Finnish Midsummer celebration, complete with a traditional dance and decorative silver birches.

Transfer passengers are a major target group for TravelLab’s service prototypes. Renowned for its Scandinavian design, Helsinki Airport aims to offer its international passengers a smooth, but also fun and distinctly Finnish travel experience.

Finavia gearing up for the future

TravelLab is a part of Finavia’s extensive development programme that will increase the airport’s passenger capacity to 20 million by 2020. With its current 15 million annual passengers, Helsinki Airport is the leading transfer hub in Northern Europe. In coming years, the airport is looking for growth in the increasing traffic between Europe and Asia.

Developing Helsinki Airport

The development programme will transform the airport’s facilities and services in the coming years. So far, Terminal 2 has received a partial makeover where check-in and security capacity was increased to meet the demands of the airport’s projected passenger numbers. Changes in the terminal structure will continue as the development programme advances.

Over the coming year over 70 retail spaces will see new services or major renovations in the biggest retail upgrade ever seen at Helsinki Airport. With the introduction of more varied flavours and prestigious global brands, the airport’s restaurant and shopping services will better serve the needs of an increasingly international passenger flow.

TravelLab Fact Sheet (pdf)