Service Design TO: The Airport Service Experience

We kicked off the evening with a short introduction to touch on some areas we found interesting, including:

  • The cultural significance and public ownership of airport space
  • How airports are made up of an entangled web of services
  • Evolving airport design trends and patterns
  • The wave of the emotional journey of airport travel

In order to help us better understand this space, we invited Shawn Lawrie to participate in a Q&A to share with us his first-hand experience in Airport design. Shawn is an Architect and Senior Associate at Stantec where he has worked on the design of many Domestic and International Airports over the last 11 years.

Linn Vizard, Shawn Lawrie, Elina Lawrie

Although Shawn was not experienced in service design, a few key themes presented themselves throughout the discussion:

1. Opportunities for service design tools and methods

Not unlike other complex systems, within airport design there are numerous stakeholders at play and tight project budgets, leaving little to no time for design research and interviews with customers.

Shawn further elaborated on the lack of customer interviews in their design process; “Part of this is that we are all frequent travelers so when we design these environments we think about what we would want”.

Airport architects also have to design for the often forgotten customer group, the experience of the 3,000 or so airport employees that keep these customer facing services moving on a daily basis.

“It is as if you were to cross the Berlin Wall every single day on your commute to work. All goods and services and airport employees have to go through security in order to get to where they are stationed, a major detail that we as passengers often overlook.”

People-centered service design tools and methods such as journey mapping can help to uncover hidden opportunities by fostering quality discussions and an empathetic view point among a project team and stakeholders.

Creating a journey map

2. The value of co-production for a successful airport design project (or any other complex public service).

Shawn explained how the most successful airport designs typically have very strong, well-organized airport authorities such as the case for Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

“Good airport authorities have many ways to collect feedback from their travellers on an ongoing basis, we often rely on this information to help us understand areas that need to be worked on.”

3. The opportunity and value to be delivered from uniting multidisciplinary teams around service design.

As airports continue to integrate new tech and IT solutions, there is an even greater need for more care taken in cross-channel transitions.

Shawn spoke about how airport design has become more modular to account for the flexibility that vendors need. As an airport evolves over time very little collaboration happens with, for example, tech companies to explore what the future of these services hold.

The Q&A was a nice primer to the closing activity designed and led by Spencer Beacock and Marie Serrano from Bridgeable.

In groups of two, attendees mapped their own experiences as airline passengers, divided by four key stages: waiting, security, check-in, and boarding.

This collaborative exercise and tool allowed us to visualize the range of experiences and interactions travelers have across these micro-journeys in pursuit of boarding their flight and/or landing in their destination.

Bridgeable elaborated on how building a visual narrative not only develops strategic insights but can pay dividends when stakeholders participate as a way to help generate consensus among the group.

Lots of things to consider when applying service design techniques to a multilayered service as complex as airports.

We hope to see you at our next event on Tuesday, June 23rd at the Innovation Lab at CSI Spadina where we will be exploring Service Design and Relationships. Stay tuned for more details on our Twitter and Facebook pages.