Get Onboard

Get Onboard: How to Deliver a First-Class Traveler Experience

 by Katherine Teske, The Millennial Girl for Soulsight



Earlier in my career, I was traveling for business up to three times per week. Aside from figuring out how to pack for multiple climates in one carry-on, my bigger realization was that there’s plenty of runway to optimize the traveler experience. This is still the case. As any jet-setter will tell you, delays are often just the tip of the iceberg. From long security lines to boarding frenzies and just about every touch point in between, the airport experience is laden with opportunities to elevate the journey of getting from point A to point B.

Whether you work in the travel industry, are a frequent flyer or simply are involved in building a brand, consider how the following strategies can help deliver a more rewarding experience from check-in to landing.


Strategy #1: Ban Bottlenecks

For many travelers, the journey to the airport begins long before making it to your gate. (Personally, getting out the door without forgetting anything is a huge feat.) Consider whatever means of transportation it requires to get to the airport itself, and you’ve got yourself an extra hour or two of transit time. Ready to breathe a sigh of relief when you make it to the terminal curbside on time? Sure. Prepared to exhale a sigh of frustration when you round the bend toward crowded security? Probably not – especially if you’re suddenly at risk to miss your flight.

We’ve all been there. You make it through the winding lines at security only to be faced with countless more: at Starbucks, the restrooms and even boarding areas. While strides have been made to reduce wait times with initiatives like TSA Precheck and new boarding protocols that vary by airline, there’s room for improvement. Whether through tech-driven solutions or good-old-fashioned human help, considering new routes that avoid bottlenecks can ease some major tension.


Strategy #2: Redefine Value

When you think of airport food, chances are a green salad piled high with fresh veggies isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. More likely, you might be assuming your options are limited to a questionable fruit cup, pre-made deli sandwich, or any number of the packaged newsstand snacks available at a hefty premium. When it comes to delivering value, food is just one example of how airports can better meet the needs and expectations of today’s consumers. With heightened demand for transparency and quality, it’s more important than ever for airports and brands alike to deliver an experience that’s worth paying more for. From healthier grab-and-go meal options to greater emphasis on cleanliness to accommodations for passengers with specific needs (i.e. designated mother’s rooms for nursing moms), prioritizing travelers’ well-being delivers tangible and intangible value that everyone can feel better about.


Strategy #3: Deliver an Experience

While flight delays are par for the course, it doesn’t make them any less frustrating. But what if airports found a way to ease delay pain? Some have. Take Singapore’s Changi Airport, which offers two, 24-hour movie theaters and a swimming pool for travelers to enjoy in their downtime. Suddenly a 2+ hour delay becomes an opportunity – an opportunity to see a movie or get in a quick workout. Regardless of industry, how can you implement new ways to deliver an experience that goes beyond your core product or service? In the case of airports, exploring branded partnerships with companies like Peloton or AMC Theaters could be just the ticket.

Whether you plan to stay grounded or jet-set in the remaining days of summer, consider how there’s nothing but runway when it comes to taking the traveler – and customer – experience to new heights.


Soulsight is a Chicago-based iconic brand design agency. Our mission is to propel brands to unlimited success through strategic design that drives consistent relevancy. We are known for delivering inspiring, category-leading creative and insights-driven strategic guidance for some of the world's best-loved iconic, global brands. We're a team of 60 multi-disciplined, strategic creatives who believe in the power of consumer-centric, design-driven branding. We build Soulful brands through strategic design. We are Soulsight.

David Thompson