Airports and Customer Service

Let’s start with an observation. I’ve blogged about the need to deal with the nation’sGreg Principato - ACI-NA President energy crisis and financial crisis. Expectations are high now.

Here’s the observation:  When I worked on Capitol Hill in the late 70′s and early-mid 80′s the fastest growing federal expenditure was not defense, not Medicare or welfare. It was interest on the federal debt. Interest on the debt buys nothing, but it must be paid. It represents failure all around.

Unfortunately, we are back in that same boat. Interest is rising fast and must be paid. It buys nothing. And we probably have to borrow much of what we are paying in interest. Times are tough now and the debt will only increase in the short term as we try to address current economic challenges. But forgive me if I am a little sad that we are back in a situation in which the fastest growing federal expenditure is interest on the federal debt.

I am writing this from Toronto where I am attending the ACI-NA Concessions Conference. There are many reasons concessions have become more important: The financial pressure that airlines and airports face and the fact that people spend more time in airports now due to increased security since 2001.

But the main reason they are important has to do with customer service. In an aviation industry in which many people believe customer service is a forgotten concept, airports are designing their concessions programs with customers first in mind. I will write more from the conference in coming days.

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