Tips for Improving Airport Operations


Airports are a necessary aspect of the travel industry. Lively and bustling, they're the beginning, middle, and end of many peoples' journeys throughout the country and around the world.

Airports are also complex systems with many components that all require dedicated attention. Combining the facets of travel operations into one flexible, scalable management plan is essential for business success and traveler satisfaction. 

Creating a lucrative airport business with improved operations will benefit travelers, airlines, and employees alike. Updating technological and analog systems to keep up with evolving trends is one of the best ways for airport managers to grow their businesses with a focus on customer service and efficiency.

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The Importance of Improving Airport Operations

Airport operations include a wide range of processes, from terminal procedures like check-in, bag checks, and security to aircraft handling, car parking, retail, maintenance, and customer service. Each layer has its own requirements, needs, and challenges, and addressing every aspect of an airport can help create a successful business on all levels. 

Since airports have so many aspects to keep track of, effective management is crucial. Management teams need a holistic view of all operations to make the most effective decisions for overall success. 

Today, global flight traffic is trending upward, meaning more people are flying than ever before. Increases in flight popularity also signal the new necessity for airports that are flexible and scalable enough to meet modern travel, comfort, and security demands.

Learning From the Past

Traditional, low-tech airport processes are time-consuming, costly, and require large numbers of people to be effective. Running an airport requires many costs that can slow down business growth if not planned for and handled correctly. Updated airport management gives teams a comprehensive look at all processes to see where they can better allocate costs or eliminate unnecessary spending. 

Streamlining airport operations makes employees' jobs easier and allows the business to achieve more in less time. When things run well behind the scenes, airports increase the chances of travelers and customers having positive experiences and coming back again.

Initiating Positive Returns

Airports are busy places. Travelers move from one gate to the next, employees report to their shifts, airlines experience delays, and drivers try to find the perfect parking spots. Successful commercial fights begin with corporate organization. 

Efficient communication channels and robust processes help managers keep an eye on everything and alert the right employees or customers when changes occur. The ability to track airport traffic flow also allows managers to recognize consumer and tech trends, which they can then use to create better resource management strategies and respond proactively to future delays and other issues. 

Improving operations can also improve airport security. Travelers trust airports with their personal information and belongings when booking tickets, creating online accounts, checking luggage, and more. Of course, within the airport and on the flights themselves, passenger safety is crucial.

When all airport teams work together and communicate effectively, business and customer information travels along secure pathways. Interconnected systems let managers monitor airport proceedings more easily, often using fully integrated platforms to oversee all operations and track the next steps.

Developing a Plan for Airport Operational Solutions

When planning optimal airport operations, managers should take several carefully thought-out steps to create a business plan that addresses everyone's needs while improving profitability. Airports have many moving parts to consider, such as gates, waiting areas, parking areas, maintenance teams, airlines, and vendors. Allocating the proper space and resources for all necessary components helps airports run swimmingly and support successful future operations.

Plans give airports concrete goals to work toward and let all employees know how their departments should function as part of the whole operation. They also allow managers to prioritize the specific aspects of the airport they want to improve.

Some critical steps in creating an improved airport management plan are:

  • Creating a planning team: Gather representatives from every airport department, including sections that need improvement and other areas that would benefit from updated information about overall business changes. Interconnected teams work best when they're all on the same page. Airport managers should be in constant communication with all departments to keep everyone updated on how operations may shift for the benefit of the entire airport.
  • Reviewing feedback: One of the best ways for a business to learn about its successes and shortcomings is through authentic feedback. Airports looking for the best ways to please customers, vendors, and employees can look to feedback about current operations, from places like direct employee suggestions during meetings or online reviews. Managers who take real people's opinions into account have a concrete starting point for what kinds of improvements they should prioritize.
  • Defining improvement motivations: Before beginning improvements, determine the company's exact reasoning for making any changes. Focusing on necessary changes that will be definite improvements helps the airport stay on budget and prioritize actionable change.
  • Considering the whole: While airports are made up of several smaller business endeavors, the goal of any improvements should be to benefit the entire operation. Structuring a plan around the end-to-end passenger journey keeps customer service at the forefront and helps create changes that result in positive growth for all areas.
  • Communicating improvement plans: Airports aim to provide the most convenient experience for travelers of all kinds. If projected airport improvements temporarily disrupt customer or employee processes, management should notify the affected people and give alternative options for any unavailable services. Providing detailed information and regular updates about improvement progress is a great way to gain and maintain customer trust.
  • Working toward delivery: Planning is just the first step. An essential part of any plan is putting it into action. Optimizing strategies for full effectiveness often means revisiting and revising them along the way. Whenever new data presents itself, use it to determine what needs to change to deliver the best results.
  • Reflecting on outcomes: After managers implement each improvement plan, they should reflect on how well they implemented those plans and how each panned out according to the initial goals. Future planning stages can benefit from evaluating what was successful and what can work better going forward. Collecting further feedback from customers and employees can also help administration plan future rounds of improvements.

How to Improve Airport Operations

Across the board, airports should provide products and services that benefit everyone involved with the business. When processes run well on the administrative end, employees can better serve customers and deliver high-quality experiences. 

When thinking about ways to improve overall airport operations, consider:

1. Platform Consolidation

In today's technological world, cloud computing makes data storage and information sharing more accessible and convenient than ever before. Rather than having different data solutions for each airport service, a single platform for all operations gives everyone the tools they need for successful business practices.

Cloud-based systems also give managers complete operational visibility to receive insights for making proactive decisions to avoid business setbacks. Real-time data helps airports seamlessly track demand and immediately respond to customer needs. Easily accessible information equips managers with the tools they need for continual business improvement.

2. Automation

Modern technology helps airports maximize their time, money, and personnel. Reducing human intervention in specific processes often helps businesses accomplish goals in less time with fewer errors. For example, self-serve kiosks free up employees to help with other steps of the flight process and help passengers gain control over their travel experience.

Automated processes further improve customer experience by speeding up processes like printing boarding passes, which creates shorter wait times and helps everyone reach the next steps quicker. Businesses can save on resource costs with machines that are much more accurate than humans, using automated scales to get precise luggage weights and databases to keep track of customer information for easy customer service.

Automated processes also help managers track how well their plans unfold, giving them live information on current situations and forecast future events. Integrated information lets people in charge know about operational changes like spikes in passenger numbers so they can prepare.

3. Budget Optimization

One of the most important aspects of running any business is organizing and allocating funds appropriately. Airport managers should track all business needs and compare those with associated costs to determine a proper budget. 

Different business tools and decisions may even help lower some operational costs. For example, switching to more automated services on both the administrative and consumer ends may allow for better budget tracking and easier spending visibility. Automation can also reduce costs in certain areas by replacing less efficient processes.

4. Customer Service

An airport's success relies on its customers, who expect a high quality of service when choosing to fly out of a specific location. Comfort and convenience should be top priorities so customers want to keep coming back.

Kiosks with a variety of food and beverages and full-service restaurants, if space and budget allow, meet some of travelers' basic needs. Bathrooms and seating areas should also be well-spaced and have room for everyone.

Areas that experience higher traffic should have more amenities to meet the needs of everyone. Internet access and plenty of charging stations give travelers the chance to use their devices as they wait. Business travelers, especially, will benefit from the opportunity to get work done before their flights.

Airports that provide plenty of amenities for their guests can establish themselves as top-notch travel providers.

5. Easy and Intuitive Navigation

One of the most important features of a stress-free travel experience is the ease of navigation. A successful airport improvement plan may call for layout and navigation redesigns.

Airport travelers are eager to find their flight gates, shop for snacks, or find other necessities. An airport building with an intuitive layout helps people find exactly what they're looking for, even if the location is new to them.

Clear, easy-to-read signs also help with navigation. Symbols, arrows, and simple language telling people where to go next or how to find what they need all contribute to a comprehensible travel experience.

6. Paths and Walkways 

Businesses are most efficient when each aspect performs set functions uninterrupted. Walkways should be explicitly designated for pedestrians and all vehicles should use separate paths or lanes. Minimizing transportation crossover helps people get where they need quickly, without distractions or obstacles. Giving pedestrians the right of way also improves customer experience and contributes to a low-stress travel environment.

In addition, pathways should be clean, clear from debris, and well-lit at all times. Outdoor walkways should have proper weather protection, so people traveling during heavy precipitation or harsh sunlight are comfortably sheltered from these conditions. All walkways should also be wide enough to accommodate people carrying luggage to avoid crowd bottlenecks.

7. Customer Appeal 

Airports should make travelers feel comfortable and relaxed before their next adventures. Along with being easy to navigate and understand, updated operational solutions should create a welcoming, engaging environment people will want to return to for future trips.

Traveling can be a hectic time for individuals, families, and business groups, and a well-functioning airport can help ease people's stress and contribute to a positive trip experience. Whether people are just beginning their journey or have been traveling for days, a well-run airport tells guests they're the top priority.

Visual appeal and user experience should also factor into a well-functioning airport design. Visitors should feel happy with calming architecture and art to see while they wait for their flights. They should also have easy access to clean amenities like bathrooms, food stands, convenience kiosks, and gift shops to find anything they'll want or need for their travels.

8. Space Maximization

Comprehensive designs maximize space throughout an airport's sections so each facet can run smoothly. Consider the minimum space requirements for each operation and assign vendor and seating spaces based on those efficiency numbers.

Also, allow equitable space and access for all airlines and other companies. Many larger airports host multiple airlines under one roof. Giving enough space for each of these businesses to operate and advertise boosts business for them and the airport. Fair treatment for all airlines and other businesses, like rental cars and travel agencies, shows the airport's dedication to client success, which may lead to continued partnerships in the future.

Depending on the airport's structural layout, some airline stations may have less direct customer access or other unfavorable qualities. In this case, designers should balance undesirable aspects of a location with perks like additional amenities that tell each airline they're valued aspects of the airport.

9. Administrative and Employee Areas

While airports are customer service areas, they're also places of employment. From airline representatives and security agents to food service workers and administrators, all employees need comfortable, clean spaces to work and take breaks. Whether employees work in offices or at stations throughout the airport, positive workplace experiences are essential for success.

10. Storage Areas

Successful airports require many supplies to maintain efficiency. From shelving gift shop items to supplying kitchens and stocking bathrooms, customer service revolves around an airport's ability to meet immediate material demands. Any airport improvements should consider adequate storage spaces for enough additional products to keep operations running between shipments.

The Future of Airport Operations Management

While many aspects of the future of airport management remain unpredictable, decision-makers can take several steps to prepare their businesses for adaptation.

Efficiency is key. Even one step in the travel process that takes longer than it needs can slow down all subsequent steps. Modern airports are moving toward the most time-saving and cost-effective techniques at all stages of the commercial flight process.

In the near future, successful airport managers will be:

  • Comfortable with automation: Technological advancements are here to stay. Airports that make use of solutions can easily keep up with industry changes and implement improvements that grow with their businesses. Effective customer service begins with efficient management operations, which technology solutions can boost through services like mobile apps for passengers and cloud storage for increased administrative efficiency and protection.
  • Aware of different customer needs: Each passenger on a flight has a different reason for travel. People traveling for leisure may look for price deals, while business travelers often prioritize saving time with fewer layovers. Airport managers should offer services that cater to various people, so everyone has what they need and want for a pleasant experience.
  • Ready for change: As with the future of any industry, many successful airport features are yet to be discovered. New involvements in airport management also bring new challenges. Many operations can stay in place for years, while others should evolve rapidly to keep up with more significant social and technological advancements.

Airport Parking Improvements

With all the different steps traveling entails, customers deserve a hassle-free parking experience. Many flight passengers leave their cars at the airport during their travels, entrusting their vehicles to professional parking lot management.

Vehicle protection structures are the perfect addition to any airport parking lot. Metal and fabric structures can help keep cars protected from sun and hail damage, ideal for long-term parking facilities. These protective solutions are also useful for other locations like loading and unloading areas, passenger dropoff areas, and rental car lots.

Some of the biggest benefits of vehicle protection structures are:

  • Protection from the elements: Vehicle protection structures are designed to help keep cars safe from damaging heat, UV rays, and harsh weather like hail.
  • Improved parking aesthetics: Travelers will want to park their cars under these visually appealing structures, which can upgrade an airport's outdoor appearance.
  • Cantilevered designs: Cantilevered protection structures are popular for parking areas, as they feature columns on only one side, leaving parking spaces and driving lanes fully open for easy access.
  • Additional security: Protection structure vendors can design frames and canopies to accept internal wiring for safety features such as surveillance cameras and light fixtures.
  • Increased revenue opportunities: Many customers may be willing to pay for premium covered parking, making vehicle protection structures an investment with great returns.
  • Branding: Airports can use canopy colors that coordinate with their brand imaging to reinforce company themes. Bright colors and unique designs also make airports stand out as innovative and stylish.
  • Impressive rental agencies: Airports may partner with car rental agencies that operate right on site. Vehicle protection structures benefit these agencies by letting them store their cars away from heat and harsh conditions. Many renters will happily choose cars that have stayed cool on hot days, and rental agencies will appreciate the chance to protect their inventory.

Contact Us for Airport Covered Parking Structures

A successful airport relies on intricately connected parts that make up the entire thriving business. Protecting travelers' vehicles is one of the most important ways an airport can show customers it's committed to giving them a positive travel experience.

VPS is a leading supplier of automobile protection structures for various industries, including airport parking and rental lots. Our years of experience have provided practical solutions airports can count on to reduce vehicle damage for years to come.

VPS is a full-service firm, meaning we stand by businesses every step of the way, from the design process to engineering, fabrication, project management, and product construction. Contact us today for more information about our products and services for airport parking lots!