Tourism Aviation Officials Launch Initiative To Improve Customer Service At Miami International Airport
By Frank Norton
Hotel and tour operators looking to enhance visitors’ experiences while in Miami-Dade County are pushing marketing efforts right up to airport gates.
A joint task force of the county’s aviation department officials and representatives of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau on Monday launched an initiative to improve Miami International Airport’s customer service.
The benefits, task force members say, is that hoteliers and destination marketers will better be able to track and service customers from arrival to departure.
"As a hotelier, I know I can impact that customer experience in my facilities," said Tony Goldman, chairman of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, "but we have not been able to influence the airport experience as of yet."
He said that experience is the critical first and last impression of Miami that visitors and transfer passengers will take home.
"If the first or last notes of a song are out of tune and the rest is magnificent, you’re left with that negative impression," he said.
Miami International needs to become less stressful and more hospitable and offer better information to users, Mr. Goldman said.
"We’re looking to embrace the passenger right at the airport and make them love the experience of coming and going," he said. "My dream is to step out of an airplane and be impacted at all the senses" by service, art, music and decor. "I want to be inspired and relaxed."
The task force launched Customer Service Day at the airport to educate airport and aviation employees – including airline administrators, baggage handlers, concessionaires, maintenance crews and US Customs agents – about good customer service.
Mr. Goldman said Customer Service Day was meant to kick off a long-term partnership between aviation and hospitality officials to improve service and branding and increase sales.
Miami-Dade Aviation Director Angela Gittens said the biggest obstacle to quality service at the airport has been a lack of information for customers. She said fixing the problem would involve employee education, signage design and information display technology.
"The Aviation Department is also trying to work on some of the fundamental issues like getting to and from state roads and highways to the airport," she said.
But those and other efforts focus on maximizing sales through new and repeat visitation to the hotels, shops and restaurants that drive Miami’s service economy.
"Marketing the destination means arresting attention at the airport and compelling visitors and transfer passengers to come back," said Miguel Southwell of the Aviation Department.
"You have a captive audience and a destination to promote."