When they think about the airport experience, many frequent flyers cringe at the thought of long lines, delayed flights, and invasive security pat-downs. In short, when taking to the air for travel, the airport terminal is among travelers’ least favorite parts of the journey.
Such thoughts may become a thing of the past, however, as a growing number of forward-looking airport authorities are turning terminal dread into terminal delight through the incorporation of engaging and entertaining experiences that are anchored by integrated audiovisual (AV) technologies.
“You can use these new AV tools to create a general feeling of, ‘I’m in a comfortable place, I’m in a safe place, this is a place where I want to come back to again,’” says Jeff Roach, Manager of Fairbanks International Airport in Alaska. “It gives you that overall good feeling about the experience that you’re having.”
The new AV tools Roach references include large-scale LED and LCD displays in every conceivable size, shape, or curvature, along with engaging and informative digital signage and compelling digital content. One such display (pictured), at Vancouver Airport in British Columbia, Canada, has brought the feeling of serenity to a most unlikely airport location — the security screening area.
The airport recently installed a 12.5-foot-by-7.8-foot LED display that plays interactive custom content created by Float4, an experience design firm based in Montreal. The installation near the security area is intended to entertain passengers as they wait in what can be a stressful part of an airport. The system utilizes sensors that can detect the movement of travelers nearby, then reacts to them with custom content that includes four different Vancouver city scenes, digitized flight maps, destination videos, and abstract swirls of shapes and colors.
“The intent is to get the anxiety out of the travel experience and just have a beautiful visual experience that makes passengers think about the destination they’re going to and have an enjoyable time while getting there,” says Alexandre Simionescu, Principal and Creative Director at Float4.
When your airport is awarded “World’s Best” by Skytrax six years running, as Singapore’s Changi Airport has been, your use of innovative audiovisual experience carries some additional weight. Changi Airport’s 230 feet wide by 33 feet high LED display, also located in a security area, features stunning 3D visuals produced by audiovisual design firm Moment Factory.
“The collection of art and entertainment formats were commissioned to be accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and it is a diverse blend of mediums, sizes and imagery that etches an inspiring first and last impression of their journey through the airport’s Terminal 4,” explains Poh Li San, Changi Airport Group Vice President in the Terminal 4 Program Management Office.
Perhaps of even greater importance is the idea that happy, relaxed travelers tend to spend more money on food and retail goods while moving through an airport, thus helping to grow non-aeronautical sales and profits.
And then there’s the most hoped-for outcome of all for airport terminal operators — the growing reality that thoughtfully designed and implemented travel experiences, anchored in audiovisual technologies, can actually turn terminals into exciting venues that travelers return to over and over again when they begin their next journey.