Perth Airport is hoping to turn around its reputation as the nation’s technological black hole.
Part of the $750 million being spent on the airport’s redevelopment will be used to improve user experience.
Free Wi-Fi, touch screen feedback panels and a control centre backed up by software that analyses what is happening in the airport in real time are some of the ways management hope to do this.
A report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released earlier this year rated Perth Airport as the worst of Australia’s capital city airports.
As part of the report, airlines rated the quality of service as less than satisfactory for the second year in a row.
Management are hoping that the addition of new technology that provides instant feedback about what is happening back to a control centre 24/7 will improve the experience for passengers.
The whole airport precinct with the city in the background.
When people arrive at the airport they will have a better idea of what awaits them.
Perth Airport chief executive Brad Geatches said screens would display the expected time passengers needed to make their way through the different sections of the airport, from check-in-security and customs all the way to the departure gate.
“Within each of the terminals, we’ll be communicating the average wait times currently being experienced,”
Mr Geatches said.
He said cameras connected to data analysis software would monitor queues through different parts of the airport.
“The programs behind it interpret what the cameras are seeing; it’s done through sensor technology and thermal imaging,”
Mr Geatches said.
He said target waiting times would be identified and if it was are projected that these times could be blown out, action could be taken.
“We can put on more staff or open more lanes.”
This technology would also monitor taxi lines, so management would have the ability to react quickly if lines were growing.
Electronic additions are also expected to create opportunities for passengers to provide feedback to the airport on the facilities and services delivered.
Touch screens will be installed for people to let those in the control room know if people were happy with the facilities.
Mr Geatches said the system could be as simple as having a happy face and a sad face that people could press to rate their experience.
He said management would look at the possibility of incorporating this into other areas such as check-in.
Passengers will also have the opportunity let provide instant feedback through a dedicated SMS number for people to send messages.
“People coming through want to engage with us in real time,”
Mr Geatches said.
Free Wi-Fi will also be available in the airport’s terminals.
Professor Christopher Kueh, a lecturer in design thinking at Edith Cowan University said many of the complaints about Perth Airport were in regard to user experience.
He said this needed to be a big focus of the redevelopment or else it would do nothing to address the issues that create the most frustration for passengers.
He believed the airport needed to go even further to find out what visitors to the airport wanted.
Professor Kueh said in order to fully understand what passengers wanted, those responsible for the redevelopment needed to do a walk-through of the airport to see firsthand what issues people experienced while making their way through the airport.
While Mr Geatches said a similar thing had been done with a disabilities services working group, nothing had been done on a similar scale for the general public.
“It doesn’t necessarily add any value to be taking groups of customers through; we already have that information in the form of industry information on a global level,”