Why not start your holiday at the stop over?
There is nothing worse in a long international flight than a lengthy stop over. Travellers are drained from the long haul flight they have just stepped off and certainly aren’t looking forward to the impending long haul flight in their future. But what if this experience could be changed with a little bit of traveller-oriented marketing?
Unless you are a member of a first class club and get access to a special lounge with massages, free food and fast internet, stop overs aren’t fun. Stuck inside a terminal waiting for the next leg of your journey to start so you are actually getting closer to the intended destination can extend mere minutes into hours.
Over time, airports have been looking at their service offerings to make this waiting period more enjoyable for customers. In a stopover at Los Angeles Airport earlier this year, I passed the time surfing the web on the free WiFi and watching an artistic digital grandfather clock with alternating animations behind. But it was by no means an exciting experience. At four o’clock in the morning every shop was closed (except Starbucks) which meant that the duty free shopping alcove was desolate and there is only so much time that you can spend starring through glass windows admiring expensive knick-knacks that you really do not need!
In the wake of understanding the negative impact of waiting, London’s Heathrow Airport and Singapore’s Changi Airport are setting out to change this travelling experience. Heathrow’s highly anticipated Terminal 2 will welcome many high end department stores and world-class restaurants into a British-centric shopping mall while Changi have built an enormous social tree allowing passers-by to upload pictures of themselves onto these enormous digital screens. The hope behind this social tree is to create a growing digital community allowing travellers to essentially interact with their previous experiences at the airport.
But while these two ideas are clever, they are by no means as exciting as the innovations at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Centred around creating an exciting new retail and entertainment precinct, Schiphol have introduced a park into their terminal. Yes, a park. Modelled after some of the most famous parks around the globe, this grassy oasis is centred around a 130-year-old tree and provides all manner of interesting activities for travellers waiting for their next flight.
There are work stations, relaxing grassy hills, birdsong music to mimic being outside, an outdoor terrace, a library section providing free books and music as well as bicycles which can be used to charge electronic devices.
Walking off a plane and into a park is definitely shocking, but it is certain to keep travellers entertained and encourage them to start their relaxing holiday before the wheels touch down in their selected destination. And with a whole range of interactive activities to pass the time, travellers are sure to select Schiphol if they have the choice of the location for their lengthy stopover.
The journey plays a large part in reflecting opinions of the destination as it bookends either side of the vacation, so why not make it part of the holiday?