The Adrian Loveridge Column – Sharing Travel Information
One of the best airport websites I have ever come across is managed by Manchester Airport. Three or four times weekly to those who signed-up are sent email updates about new flights and/or routes, special airfares, parking, dining and several other offers.
As an average traveller probably spends around 4 hours per trip of their holiday in one or more airports, it’s a great way to maintain contact with users and wonder if our own airport (GAIA) could be more proactive in this area.
While some of the franchisees who have a physical presence at GAIA maintain a website or at least a Facebook (FB) page, for the first time visitor or infrequent user, it can often be a minefield to find and source required information.
A simple example for me, was when I flew to Buenos Aires via Miami some time ago, I had bought a bottle of our local rum to consume while overseas. No problem buying it and boarding the flight to the US, but then you were not allowed to take the same item on the Argentina sector, even though flying with the same carrier. Clearly, I was not alone and you are left to wonder how and where these confiscated items are disposed of.
Determined not to experience this again, I sent a Facebook message to one of the duty free concessioners at our airport before embarking on a far more recent two flight journey to the southern United State of Georgia. Within minutes there was a reply, saying I could avoid this by ensuring the bottle is placed in a non-cost to buyer, specially sealed bag from their store at GAIA called a STEB (Sealable Tamper Evidence Bag). It was still inspected at Miami by a customs officer who re-sealed the bag and allowed continuation of my journey intact.
While the GAIA website lists links to it retail concessions, a far simpler and more logical customer-friendly procedure could be put in place, which at the same time would add value and partially offset each franchise operator’s cost of doing business at the airport. Rather like Manchester Airport’s example, the GAIA website could be developed into a wonderful marketing tool, helping retain destination loyalty and brand awareness, which would only be a win-win scenario for all involved.
You only have to visit popular social media sites like TripAdvisor Barbados Forum to see just how many people repeatedly ask questions, that could be simply answered more effectively elsewhere. At this stage I would also like to stress that I am, in no way, wishing to denigrate the current GAIA website.
When you compare it with other regional offerings, it is as good, if not better than many others. But if we really wish to project the frequently quoted iconic status associated with Barbados, then we have to be the very best or among the best involved in tourism, across all our competition.