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Translating emotional insights into digital channel designs: Opportunities to enhance the airport experience

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Purpose The purpose of this study is to identify and understand the emotions behind a passenger’s airport experience and how this can inform digital channel engagements. Design/methodology/approach This study investigates the emotional experience of 200 passengers’ journeys at an Australian domestic airport. A survey was conducted which implemented the use of Emocards and an interview approach of laddering. The responses were then analysed into attributes, consequences and values. Findings The results indicate that across key stages of the airport (parking, retail, gates and arrivals) passengers had different emotional experiences (positive, negative and neutral). The attributes, consequences and values behind these emotions were then used to propose digital channel content and purpose of various future digital channel engagements. Research limitations/implications By gaining emotional insights, airports are able to generate digital channel engagements, which align with passengers’ needs and values rather than internal operational motivations. Theoretical contributions include the development of the technology acceptance model to include emotional drivers as influences in the use of digital channels. Originality/value This paper provides a unique method to understand the passengers’ emotional journey across the airport infrastructure and suggest how to better design digital channel engagements to address passenger latent needs.
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Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology
Translating emotional insights into digital channel designs: Opportunities to
enhance the airport experience
Karla Straker Cara Wrigley
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To cite this document:
Karla Straker Cara Wrigley , (2016),"Translating emotional insights into digital channel designs",
Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 7 Iss 2 pp. 135 - 157
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Translating emotional insights
into digital channel designs
Opportunities to enhance the
airport experience
Karla Straker
School of Design, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane,
Australia, and
Cara Wrigley
School of Design, Information Systems School,
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this study is to identify and understand the emotions behind a passenger’s
airport experience and how this can inform digital channel engagements.
Design/methodology/approach This study investigates the emotional experience of 200
passengers’ journeys at an Australian domestic airport. A survey was conducted which implemented
the use of Emocards and an interview approach of laddering. The responses were then analysed into
attributes, consequences and values.
Findings The results indicate that across key stages of the airport (parking, retail, gates and
arrivals) passengers had different emotional experiences (positive, negative and neutral). The
attributes, consequences and values behind these emotions were then used to propose digital channel
content and purpose of various future digital channel engagements.
Research limitations/implications – By gaining emotional insights, airports are able to generate
digital channel engagements, which align with passengers’ needs and values rather than internal
operational motivations. Theoretical contributions include the development of the technology
acceptance model to include emotional drivers as inuences in the use of digital channels.
Originality/value – This paper provides a unique method to understand the passengers’ emotional
journey across the airport infrastructure and suggest how to better design digital channel engagements
to address passenger latent needs.
Keywords Strategy, Emotion, Design, Digital channels, Passenger insights
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Airports frequently measure customer satisfaction in relation to functional aspects such
as passenger processes, airport facilities and customer services (Rhoades et al., 2000);
however, the emotional aspects of the customer experience are rarely measured, if at all.
Dutka (1994) explains many companies have satisfaction goals and strategies, but only
a few rigorously measured their customers’ satisfaction and even less act upon the
results. Woodruff (1997) questioned, what exactly do customers value? And how can
this value be translated into superior company performances? This is not a new problem
for companies with literature exploring it from the early 1990s (Slater and Narver, 1998;
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1757-9880.htm
Translating
emotional
insights
135
Received 2 November 2015
Revised 3 February 2016
Accepted 23 February 2016
Journal of Hospitality and
Tourism Technology
Vol. 7 No. 2, 2016
pp. 135-157
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1757-9880
DOI 10.1108/JHTT-11-2015-0041
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Day, 1990). However, the emergence of new technologies has revolutionised the way
companies interact and engage with customers, and is providing new challenges and
opportunities to this existing problem. Digital channels are technology-based,
internet-enabled platforms that connect wide variety users. Recent literature has
highlighted the use of digital channels such as social media as a way for companies to
engage directly with customers (Hoffman and Novak, 2012;Boyd and Ellison, 2007;
Schultz and Peltier, 2013;Trusov et al., 2010). Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) explain that
most companies are unsure how to best seize the opportunities that digital channels
present. Scholars and practitioners are seeking to better understand the extent to which
customer interactions through digital channels can and should inuence company
strategy (Hoffman and Novak, 2012;Parent et al., 2011;Schultz and Peltier, 2013).
Schultz and Peltier (2013) believe for most companies, the difculty has not been in
developing and launching their digital initiatives, but making them truly engaging and
valuable to their customer base.
For this study, the emotional experiences of passengers were investigated in an
Australian domestic airport terminal to understand how the awareness of
passengersemotions can inform digital channel engagements?
The shift into non-aeronautical revenue requires an increase focus on customer
satisfaction, therefore managing the airport environment may be directly associated to
managing customer experiences within airports through offering valuable digital
channels. Research has shown that positive emotional experiences correlate to eased
and relaxed passengers, which in turn leads to repeat business, higher spending rates
and ultimately increased revenue (Jarach, 2001;Spurway, 2011;Bork, 2007). Similar to
many other industries, the aviation industry and in particular the airport sector has
turned to digital channels to improve the customer experience (Kumar, Toshniwal &
Singh, 2012). Numerous airports globally have begun investing in digital channels such
as mobile applications, social media platforms and interactive way-ndings maps as a
means to improve the customer experience. However, literature exploring how airports
use digital channels and the passenger experience is currently lacking. With most
studies exploring a set of factors such as wait times, safety and management of airport
services as indicators of passenger satisfaction and experience (Bogicevic et al., 2013;
Park and Jung, 2011;Eboli and Mazzulla 2009).
Crawford and Melewar (2003) found that the airport environment plays a larger role
in passenger purchasing decisions, and suggests that the airport environment must be
one that minimizes stress whilst maintaining natural levels of excitement.
Competition on products alone will not create a sustainable market share, as
customer purchase decisions are based on more subjective terms such as the company
image, branding, advertising, purchase experience and channel distribution.
Consequently, this demand requires companies to possess knowledge and processes
that allow them to create deeper emotional understanding and connections with their
customer. Hill (2010, p. 2) states “emotions are now front and center”, as companies who
are able to identify, quantify and act on achieving emotional buy in or acceptance from
customer and employees alike will achieve a tremendous competitive advantage. For
this reason, the primary objective of this study is to direct all data-gathering efforts
towards gathering information about the emotional experience of passengers within an
airport. This paper discusses the current role of design and emotion and proposes it as
a way of improving the customer experience through the delivery of digital channel
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engagements. This section also explains the process required to understand customer
emotions, considering both process for customer emotion research and for integrating
that research into a larger customer value-oriented design process. Companies must
build competency for translating insights into action; therefore, the nal section
presents a translation process framework for bridging emotional insights and the
design of digital channel engagements.
The relationship between customer emotions, values and technology
usage
Researchers and managers maintain that one of the key goals of marketing is to build
and sustain strong relationships with customers (Palmatier et al., 2009;Bagozzi et al.,
1999). The area of relationship marketing aims to establish and enhance customer trust
and commitment of customer to inuence behaviours, leading to increased sales and
performance (Moorman et al., 2010;Zaltman, 2003;Morgan, 2000;Palmatier et al., 2009;
Payne and Frow 2014). However, customers do not always make informed, rational
decisions but rather are often driven by subjective feelings such as emotions. The role of
customer emotions in the decision-making process is of great importance to service
rms because of the mediating role emotions play in the link between experiencing the
service and the customer’s subsequent behaviour. Emotions such as excitement or fear
can inuence the anticipation a customer feels about the service even before they
experience it (Izard, 2010). This anticipation plays a major role in the pre-encounter
stage of the decision-making process by helping the customer determine the
attractiveness of the service offering to them. Reynolds and Gutman (1988) explain that
the common premise is that customers learn to choose products or services containing
attributes which are instrumental to achieving their desired outcomes (consequences).
Satisfaction in general terms is considered “sum of one’s feelings or attitudes towards
a variety of factors affecting the situation” (Legris et al., 2003, p. 192). The original
technology acceptance model (Figure 1)(Davis et al., 1989) was developed for measuring
and analysing computer user satisfaction. This model and those developed upon it
suggests that perceived ease of use and usefulness are the two most important factors in
their relation between systems characteristics (external variables) and the acceptance of
technology (actual system use). Self-efcacy theory has been applied by several diverse
lines of research from the interaction with products, to the usage of computers and
digital channels such as websites. Self-efcacy is the theoretical consideration of the
perceived usefulness and ease of use as determinants of customer behaviour (Davis,
1989). Perceived ease of use is supported by Bandura’s (1982, p. 122) research on
Figure 1.
Original technology
acceptance model
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self-efcacy, dening it as “judgments of how well one can execute courses of action
required to deal with prospective situations”. If customers do not perceive a product or
service as useful, they are unlikely to use it (Alavi and Henderson, 1981). Davis (1989)
theorizes that usage is inuenced by the perceived ease of use. Perceived usability,
loyalty, trust and satisfaction are inferred as interrelated, as loyalty improved when a
customer’s perceived use of the system was conrmed, and therefore built trust, and had
a positive inuence on customer satisfaction (Flavián et al., 2006).
Researchers have developed and proposed new versions of Davis’s original model
over time with the aims of contributing a better understanding and addition of factors
that facilitate and inuence technology usage. Developments include the notion of time
(Venkatesh and Morris, 2000), reliability, complexity, compatibility and observability
(Legris et al., 2003). Two such models are Venkatesh’s (2000) theoretical framework
which outlines determinants of perceived ease of use as anchors and adjustments.
Anchors are described as “general beliefs about computers and computer usage” and
include computer self-efcacy, perceptions of external controls, computer anxiety and
computer playfulness (Venkatesh, 2000, p. 345). Adjustments are “beliefs that are
shaped based on direct experience with the target system” and include perceived
enjoyment and object usability (Venkatesh, 2000, p. 346). The second is Legris et al.
(2003) model which outlines subject norms, image, job relevance, output quality and
result demonstrability to impact upon the perceived usefulness of technology usage.
However, what these studies lack is an analysis of the users’ situation, context and
emotions in isolation and in regards to technology usage.
Authorities have established and explored emotion through various elds such as
branding and customer loyalty (Hill, 2010;Robinette, 2001), marketing (O’Shaughnessy
and O’Shaughnessy 2003) and customer services (Roberts, 2005). Marketing and
consumer behaviour research has focused on customer emotions and its effect on
purchase decisions, post-consumption evaluation and brand loyalty (Schmitt, 1999;
Richins, 1997). Robinette (2001, p. 4) discusses emotion marketing, which is the “wide
pursuit of a sustainable connection that makes customers feel valued and cared for that
they will go out of their way to be loyal”. Literature explains that a loyal customer can
only be developed if a company can build emotional connections, in addition to positive
attitudes, experiences and behaviours (Reinartz and Kumar, 2002;Shoemaker and
Lewis, 1999;Miao and Mattila, 2011) explain that to achieve the best results, a company
needs to win over the customer’s heart rst, as well as their mind. If a customer develops
a strong enough emotional tie with the company or its employees, than the affective
bond leads to a greater commitment than any loyalty program can create (Mattila, 2001).
Robinette (2001, p. 4) believes that “in every encounter there’s an opportunity to meet a
need and make an emotional connection” with the customer.
By creating emotionally aware companies that could engage on an emotional level
with customers could provide ways to understand and cater to the needs of their
customers, in turn creating loyal customers. However, emotions are a difcult asset to
measure, due mostly to the little consistency among the denitions of emotion and that
many of them are not sufciently explicit to give a clear idea as to what an emotion
actually is (Plutchik, 1962). Gofn et al. (2012) believe that the importance of integrating
the voice of the customer into new product development is universally accepted;
however, the techniques used to identify customers’ needs have stagnated. Xie et al.
(2007, p. 109) state, “consumer behavior literature remains preoccupied with decision
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making focused on what consumers purchase, not with what they do”. Zaltman (2003,
p. 131) proposes that managers need to use methods from various disciplines to
understand customers’ deeper thoughts and feelings to “clearly, understand the why
behind the what of consumer thinking and behaviour”. Reynolds and Gutman (1988)
explain the importance of understanding the underlying why, as they explain personal
values to yields more direct and more useful insights of the customer. Their process of
laddering is a bottom-up interview technique in which the interviewer asks a series of
questions with a view to abstracting high-order meanings that drive the respondent’s
perceptions (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988).
Airport passengers and their experiences
Airports serve a variety of customers, each with their own specic requirements.
Halpern and Graham (2013) divide airport customers into six major groups: passengers,
airlines, tour operators, travel agents, freight forwarders and visitors. Graham (2008)
uses a simpler classication of airport customers as trade customers, passengers, other
individuals and other organization; with trade customers including airlines, general
aviation, tour operators and travel agents. This study is focused on airport passengers
as customers. The past management and regulation of airports as public utilities
resulted in fairly homogeneous airport service offerings across passenger groups, with
no particular emphasis on airport passengers as “customers” (Liebert and Niemeier,
2013). However, as a result of an increased commercial focus by airport management,
the perception of airports as merely transition points for passengers is no longer viable.
Airports are now perceived as unique retail environments.
Research conducted by Crawford and Melewar (2003) found that the airport
environment plays a large role in passenger purchasing decisions. Specically, the
authors suggest that the airport environment must be one that minimizes stress whilst
maintaining natural levels of excitement. Managing the airport environment may be
directly associated to managing customer experiences within airports through offering
high service quality. A customer experience is dened by Shaw et al. (2010,p.3)as:
[…] an interaction between an organisation and a customer as perceived through a customer’s
conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organisation’s rational performance, the
senses stimulated and emotions evoked, and intuitively measured against customer
expectations across all moments of contact.
Park and Jung (2011) found that airport service quality raises the level of satisfaction
among passengers, as well as improving airport value perceptions and image.
Additionally, the authors propose that positive customer experience leads to positive
passenger behaviour, causing customers to reuse airport and airport services and
recommend the airport to others.
The behaviour and specic requirements of airport passengers varies and is
dependent on a variety of factors, such as the purpose of travel, the nationality of the
passenger and the passenger’s circumstances (Rowley and Slack, 1999;Freathy and
O’Connell 1998). Airport passengers are provided with various services and facilities to
support their activities, including ground service facilities providing accessibility to the
terminals and the aireld; commercial facilities, such as entertainment and shopping
amenities, conference services and hotels; and the facilitation of external ground
transport to and from the airport, such as parking facilities, rail and supply of taxis
(Graham, 2008). Research by Takakuwa and Oyama (2003) found that a majority of
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passenger time is spent during discretionary periods and only a small amount of time is
spent in processing activities. Paternoster (2008) suggests that airport passengers make
assessments about an airport’s performance based on the collective performance of
these various airport services. As a result, it can be difcult to determine customer needs
in an airport setting, as various stakeholders are responsible for the delivery of service
quality. As competition continues to rise, the airport industry increasingly emphasizes
service quality as a strategy for achieving a competitive advantage (Lee-Mortimer,
1993).
Fitzgerald et al. (2013) found that the adoption of digital technologies allows rms
to increase customer engagement and improve customer experiences. The
interconnectivity of digital technology allows rms to overcome physical barriers,
enabling the possibility of reaching more customers and on a deeper level (Anderson,
2008). The implementation of digital technologies in airports is a relatively recent trend
and has resulted from a response to industry environmental conditions. It should be
noted that airport digital channel strategy may not necessarily be a conscious, explicit
approach to digital technology adoption, but may rather emerge over time as
management decisions in digital technology implementation provide some form of a
consistent pattern.
Digital channels have revolutionised the ways in which individuals connect,
exchange and gather information. Many organisations not only have a website
presence, but also dedicated social media pages, blogs, mobile apps and other digital
technologies to connect with customers. These technologies not only provide value to
customers but also gather strategic insights, ultimately allowing companies to gain
competitive advantage in an increasingly digital environment. In a study by Straker
et al. (2015), 34 digital touchpoints and 4 digital channel typologies (Functional, Social,
Community and Corporate) of digital channels were identied across 16 industries.
They also formed taxonomy of meta-characteristics (Table I) of digital channels to
determine the characteristics of each digital channel via the content displayed, the
purpose of use, direction of communication and interaction rank. The increased
availability of information through the employment of digital channel has enabled
companies to anticipate the needs of the industry in which they operate and successfully
implement strategies that will provide them with a competitive advantage. However,
existing literature does not provide signicant explanation of the processes involved to
successful achieve this.
Research method
Data collection
The aims of this study, therefore, are to investigate passengers’ airport experiences to
understand how an understanding of emotions can inform digital channel design. A
survey was conducted over a period of seven days on site at an Australian domestic
airport terminal, through the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Passengers within the airport
were approached and asked to participate in the survey at four stages in the passenger
journey (parking, retail, boarding gates and baggage claim). A total of 200 responses
were collected – 50 responses at each of the four key areas. Participants within the
airport were randomly selected and advised of the purpose of the survey.
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Survey instrument development
The survey instrument consisted of two sections. The rst section included
demographic data relating to the individual passenger and included their age, gender,
residency status, frequency and purpose of travel and whether the traveller was
accompanied. As discussed previously, a person’s experience within the airport is
inuenced by a wide variety of factors. Therefore, whilst not an exhaustive measure, it
was proposed these characteristics would provide an insight into the phenomenon being
studied. The second section focused on the emotion being experienced by the passenger
at that moment in time. This was facilitated through the use of Emocards (Desmet,
2002), a data collection technique proven over a decade ago with many design studies
now using this measurement instrument in various studies (Desmet, 2002;Isomursu
et al., 2007) to gauge emotional reactions. The Emocards is based on the work of Desmet
(2002), and is a non-verbal self-report method to capture the emotional response in
relation to the design of products. The instrument was used in this study to measure
pleasant, unpleasant and neutral emotions related to the passenger experience at the
airport. The validity and reliability of the cards have not been done; limitation of the
Table I.
Meta-characteristics
for digital channel
taxonomy
Theme Category Description
Content displayed Information Included basic company information, e.g. store
locations, opening hours, contact, careers and
company history
Promotion Content designed to attract customers though
promoting new products or services, support
content included customer services
Support Support content includes customer services
Revenue Revenue content were digital channel through
which customers could make purchases
The purpose of use Functional Functional digital channels are those used for a
clear objective of the customer or company, e.g.
online store objective is purchase
Diversion The diversion characteristics are those that relate
to the ability of customers to participate in
recreational and social activities through the
digital channel
Interaction Is related to channels that allow for two-way
communication with company, community of
customers or individual customers
Direction of communication Simplex One way communication, e.g. company to
consumer (reports) or customer to company
(customer feedback forms)
Duplex Ability for prompt two way communication,
between company and customer
Interaction rank Low Limited or no interaction between company and
customer required or possible
Medium Interaction between company and customer is
required, however not daily
High Interaction between company and customer
required daily
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cards is that they do not measure the actual emotion, only the perceived pleasantness
and arousal. However, this is not the aim of the study to understand the exact emotion,
but the underlying reasoning for the emotion.
Data collection procedure
The proposed method for capturing a passenger’s emotional experience builds upon a
well-established technique in consumer behaviour and services marketing: the
laddering technique (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988). Emotional response studies are used
by designers as a basis for designing decisions to enable the best possible user
experience. How their user plans to interact with products, how they actually interact
with it and the perceptions and outcomes which surround those interactions are
explored (Forlizzi et al., 2003). However, for this study and from the explanation by
Forlizzi and Battarbee (2004), there is a difference between emotions as responses to
designed products compared to emotions as part of an interaction. For this reason, the
user (passenger) must be examined in the context (airport) of the interaction. The
emotional response will be the focus, as it is this psychological process that will inform
the deeper understanding of the experience. Personal values can be identied through
the researcher’s probing questions. The assumption of the means-end model that
lower-order means (company interaction) are linked to higher-order consequences
(cognitive and/or emotional responses and personal values) is adopted. The aim of the
laddering technique for this study is to establish the link between the experience and the
passenger’s emotional response and related personal values. The three step process of
laddering implemented in this study is based on the study by Desmet et al. (2001).
Passengers were asked why they are at the airport, (where they are going, why,
frequency of travel and their nationality and residency). By discussing these basic
questions, the passenger’s background and purpose of trip was identied. The
passenger was then asked about their experience so far at the airport and to select an
Emocard that represents their emotion at the present time (the conversation is lifted to a
more abstract level). In the last step of the interview, the passenger is asked to explain
why they feel this way (i.e. they are invited to unfold the goals and values they have
regarding the airport). They were then asked a series of questions in regards to their
awareness and perceptions of nine digital channels currently available at the airport.
Data analysis
The content analysis of the laddering interviews is based upon the study by Reynolds
and Gutman (1988). The rst step is to record the entire set of ladders across respondents
on a separate coding form. The responses were then thematically analysed into common
categories, themes and patterns (Braun and Clarke, 2006). The transcribed data were
then divided into themes and sub-categories. Once an overall sense of the type of
elements elicited, the next step is to develop a set of summary codes that reect
everything that was mentioned. This is done by rst classifying all responses into three
basic levels (attributes, consequences and values) and then further breaking down all
responses into individual summary codes. To insure consistency in this stage, reliability
checks across multiple coders were conducted.
Results
In all, 200 passenger responses were collected, with just over half being female (50.5 per
cent, n101) and about a third in early adulthood (16-34, n61). The majority of
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passengers were residents of Australia (87 per cent, n174) and traveling alone (53.5
per cent, n107). Passenger’s purpose of travel was separated into business and
leisure, 121 passengers were traveling for leisure and the remaining 79 for business. In
all, 35 passengers (17.5 per cent) were rst time visitors to the airport and over half (51
per cent) visited the airport between 1-5 times per year. A simple analysis on the
frequency of awareness and usage of each digital channel was conducted. The highest
frequency of digital channel awareness and usage was the ight monitors located within
the airport. From these results, it can be seen that the awareness of all digital channels
is higher than the usage of them (Table II). All respondents who indicated usage of a
digital channel also indicated the awareness of it.
Emotional journey
Over the four areas in the airport terminal (parking, retail, gates and arrivals), the
emotional experience can be plotted (Figure 2). Emotional responses were gathered by
asking passengers to choose an Emocard reecting their emotion at the current point in
time, and after the selection, the passenger was questioned on why they feel this way
(laddering). This step was to explore why passengers were feeling this particular
emotion. The results show that passengers’ responses were present over the eight
Emocards. In all, 24.5 per cent of passengers felt calm pleasant, 18 per cent felt calm
neutral, 17.5 per cent excited pleasant, 17.5 per cent average pleasant, 8.5 calm
unpleasant, 5 per cent excited unpleasant, 4.5 per cent excited neutral and 4.5 per cent
average unpleasant. The overall emotional responses of 200 passengers over half had a
pleasant experience (n124, 62 per cent), 22 per cent (n44) had a neutral experience
and the remaining 32 passengers (16 per cent) had an unpleasant emotional response.
Desmet et al. (2001, p. 39) state that the “best way for a designer to understand the
concerns of his user is to personally discuss them with the user”. This study discussed
the concerns underlying the passenger’s emotional responses with 200 airport
passengers. The process of laddering (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988) was implemented. A
comprehensive overview of results is given in Figure 3. The passenger interviews
broken down into individual summary codes were coded into attributes, consequences
and values. Each area of the airport is explored in detail in the following sections.
Parking
The parking section of the airport included the parking lot for the airport and the air
bridge into the domestic terminal. Passengers were spoken to mostly on this air bridge
on their way into or out of the terminal. Overall, out of the 50 passengers spoken, the
highest emotion experienced was excited pleasant (n10, 20 per cent), calm neutral and
average pleasant both on 18 per cent. In all, 18 passengers (36 per cent) spoken to were
“frequent yers”, indicating they travel more than once a month from this domestic
terminal. All of these passengers were travelling for business and indicated their
emotion to be either calm neutral and average pleasant:
I know where going, I’m on time and for me its always a quick process and I sit in the airline
lounge (Male, 56, Business Traveller, Calm Neutral, 52 Year).
I am a frequent yer, due to my work, I’m already checked in and going to lounge. I am aware
of airport mobile application but I doesn’t use it, as all work trips are booked and organized
through work (Female, 30, Leisure, Average Neutral).
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Table II.
Demographic and
emotional
characteristics of
respondents
Survey participants (n200)
Gender
Male 99 49.5%
Female 101 50.5%
Age
16-24 26 12%
25-34 35 17.5%
35-44 45 23.5%
45-54 37 18.5%
55-64 41 20.5%
65-74 10 5%
75 and over 6 3%
Residence of Australia
Yes 174 87%
No 26 13%
Residence of Brisbane
Yes 76 38%
No 124 62%
Travel purpose
Business 79 39.5%
Leisure 121 60.5%
Travel companion
Alone 107 53.5
Accompanied 93 46.5
Frist time at airport
Yes 35 17.5%
No 165 82.5%
Frequency (times per year)
0 34 17%
1-5 102 51%
6-10 27 13.5%
11-20 26 12%
21 and over 17 8.5%
Digital channels
Usage Awareness
nn
Mobile application 18 43
Website 26 57
Facebook page 8 31
Twitter account 4 20
YouTube account 1 12
Flight monitors 159 179
Instagram account 2 12
Pinterest account 0 9
Airline application 44 54
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I’m going home, Finished work, everything is on schedule, work organizes all trip details so I
don’t need to worry about that (Male, 36, Business Traveller, Calm Neutral, 12 Year).
The attributes to these emotional responses included traveling for work, simple, easy
access through airport and going home to see family. The consequences for these
travellers include travelling have become a second nature to them, as they are aware of
what they need to do and have a routine. Passengers’ who indicated that they were
unpleasant (n12, 24 per cent) were also rst-time travellers (33 per cent) to this airport
or travel 1 to 3 times per year:
I’m not sure where to go- looking for signs but just confused about where to go. Signage in the
parking area isn’t clear at all, I went the wrong way, so annoying as I have so many bags and
the kids who don’t listen (Female, 32, Excited Unpleasant, 2-3 Year).
I’m annoyed, as I’m not sure how to get into airport, I’m already running late as it was hard to
nd park […] It was my rst time in the car park, so everything was new and unknown (35,
Male, Leisure, Excited Unpleasant, 1 Year).
I can’t nd taxi rank, signage is a big issue, and I’ve become annoyed, I don’t use any
technology so I don’t know about the airport digital (Male, 59, Leisure, Calm Unpleasant, 1-2
Year).
The main attributes of these passengers included being lost because of the lack of
signage, having the consequence of passengers’ being stressed, worried and annoyed.
The key values of both these groups of travellers included having a work and family life
balance and being informed and therefore the feeling of being in control.
Retail
The retail section of the terminal included a range of food, coffee and retail stores and
had the largest rate of pleasant passengers (n36, 68 per cent). This is due largely to
passengers’ attributes and consequences of being relaxed, calm and having time to
complete work or spend time with friends and family:
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
Parking Retai l Gates Arrival s
Rate of Passengers
Area of Air port
Excit ed Neutral
Excit ed Pleasant
Average Pleas ant
Calm Pleasant
Calm Neutral
Calm Unpleasant
Averag e Unpleasant
Exci ted Unpleasant
Figure 2.
Emotional passenger
journey over four
key stages
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Figure 3.
Passenger emotional
journey ladder
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I’m happy to go on holidays, I have a one hour wait, so I’ve had time to sit and catch up with my
friend to relax before the ight, I know they probably exist (digital channels), but I don’t look
at them (22, Male, Accompanied, Calm Pleasant, 1-2 Year).
I’m so excited to be going home, I’ve been away for seven months and tired from travelling but
there is no Wi-Fi in the terminal so I am unable to make sure someone will be picking up, but
I’m happy thinking about getting back to my own house (59, Female, Alone, Leisure, Excited
Pleasant, 2 3 Year).
Having my coffee, reading my newspaper, I came earlier so I could have breakfast and
relaxed without being stuck in trafc and stressed. I don’t really use any of the digital
channels, as all information is on boarding pass (52, Male, Leisure, Accompanied, Calm
Pleasant, 2 Year).
The value of this is in the comfort and security of knowing what to do next and again
being in control because of being informed. In this area, passengers’ explained that were
excited to go on holidays, but welcomed the time waiting for the plane to enjoy a coffee
and either read the newspaper or speak with their travel companions. However, the 12
per cent (n6), who had an unpleasant emotional response, i.e had a bad customer
service experience, felt rushed or disappointed, because of their ight being delayed or
cancelled were bored, annoyed and did not had a good experience:
I’m in a rush to get to my gate, and there are people in the walkway, lining up to get onto their
plane, it’s so hard to get through when you are in a rush, I’m worried I will miss my ight (46,
Female, Average Unpleasant, 1-2 Year).
It’s a long way from the food area to my gate, I actually didn’t know it would take me so long
or that there were three difdent terminal gates, I’m worried that will forget about me and
leave (76, Male, Calm Unpleasant, First time in ten years).
I’m happy to be going home, but I just had the worst experience at the sandwich shop which
has spoiled the end of my trip, also disappointed with the value for money with the food
options. I tired to downloading the airport mobile application, but there is no Wi-Fi, so I am
unable to do work as well (32, Female, Business, Average Unpleasant, 4-5 Year).
Values of these passengers included wanting more information (why the plane was
delayed) and a form of entertainment (overcome boredom).
Departure gates
The airport has 28 departure gates in three distinct terminals. The majority of
passengers (50 per cent) in this section were calm (n14, calm pleasant; n11, calm
neutral). The common of attributes with these passengers included knowing what to
expect because of the experience with this airport or airports in general. Another key
attribute was being on time at the gate and not rushing and the consequence of
everything that was going to be plannned:
I don’t mind waiting, good time for relaxing as there is no sense of getting worried about it. I
used the website to pre-book parking, which made life easier (62, Male, Business, Calm
Pleasant, 1 Year).
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I have nothing to complain about, I’m also not really experiencing anything-just in and out, as
it just my normal, routine and I’m used to the airport, but I do wish they had a phone charger
(docking stations at gates) while I wait (44, Female, Business, Calm Neutral, 20 Year).
They key attributes and consequences of passengers’ who indicated to be unpleasant
(n10, 20 per cent) were because of the fear of ying, lack of access to Wi-Fi, being at
the wrong gate and not being informed, a delay in ight and the loss of item (scissors,
makeup) at security:
My nail scissors were taken off me at security, I’m very unhappy, as in Europe you are allowed
small scissors. I didn’t know security restrictions, very unhappy that they have taken them. I
was also charged $70 for 3kg of overweight luggage. Overall it’s been an unhappy experience.
Just want to leave (63, Female, Accompanied, Leisure, Calm Unpleasant, First Time).
I want to download airline mobile application, there is a sign advertising it, however, there is
no Wi-Fi at the airport (56, Male, Accompanied, Leisure, Average Unpleasant, First Time).
The ight was cancelled, so I am annoyed about the delay, so I can’t get my work done. I
received an emailed from the airline that there was a delay but no explanation as to why and
when it will be rescheduled, wish I got it before I left home (21, Male, Business, Average
Unpleasant, 2 Month).
Key values of these passengers in this area included wanting more information (why the
plane was delayed, gate locations, time of ight and security restrictions) and a form of
entertainment (lack of internet access) and accomplishment (because of lack of
information and control of situation).
Arrivals
The last area arrivals included the bag collection carousels, access to public transport
and the taxi and passenger pick-up ranks. In all, 62 per cent of passengers in this area
were pleasant, excited pleasant (n12), average pleasant (n8) or calm pleasant (n
11). Passenger that indicated as pleasant included having a good ight, excited, as this
was their rst visit to the city, happy to be home and had a quick bag collection:
Flight was early, bag pick up quick” (59, Female, Leisure, Average Pleasant, 8-9 Year).
I had a good ight, I’m just waiting for bags but they way nding needs to be better, I just
followed other people to the baggage carousel (30, Male, Leisure, Calm Pleasant, 2 Year).
Security is fast and organised, baggage can be slow but overall it is less stressful (43, Female.
Business, Average Pleasant, 2 Month).
Waiting long periods of time is frustrating, I watch the T.V screens with no sound, get a drink,
but there is no care towards passengers (60, Female, Leisure, Calm Pleasant, 1 Year).
Those who were unpleasant (n6, 12 per cent) had attributes such as not knowing
where to collect their baggage or locate public transport or meet family/friends, waiting
for bag and were bored:
Forgot to book rental car before arriving, very confusing and expensive process at the airport
(50, Female, Leisure, Average Unpleasant, 2 Year).
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Bit stressed, need to keep kids entertained but happy to be on holidays, I always have a lot of
luggage and a stroller (32, Female, Leisure, Excited Unpleasant, 1 Year).
I’m not sure what bus to take, I’ve asked a few people but they don’t know, running late and
there is no one at the customer service counter, Need to improve communication to passenger
(40, Male, Liesure, Calm unpleasant).
Opportunities to enhance the airport experience
Digital channels allow airports to engage with passengers directly at relatively low cost
and higher levels of efciency than what can be achieved through traditional marketing
channels. Seamless digital channel design requires looking at how the customer behaves
through the entire experience to see whether customer needs are being met. It is
necessary to understand the various paths customers follow as they move through the
experience and the attributes that are inuencing their emotions. From this study’s
results, a conglomerate emotional journey ladder (Figure 3) can be formed, illustrating
the relationship between the emotion experienced, attributes, consequences and values
across eight emotions.
Through the laddering technique, high-order meaning that drive the respondent’s
perceptions and how information is processed can be abstracted (Reynolds and Gutman,
1988). The aim is understand the underlying reasons why an attribute or a consequence
is important, which is gained through knowing what passengers’ value.
Attributes provided the “means” of the passenger’s current emotion, while a
consequence is a result of the attributes. Attributes of the passengers’ experiences were
identied and categorised across the eight Emocard emotions. These were then
categorised into neutral (excited and calm), pleasant (excited, average and calm
pleasant) and unpleasant (excited, average and calm unpleasant). Passenger responses
with the same emotion category were grouped to gain key attributes, consequences and
values for each category. An example of summary ladders for average pleasant and
average unpleasant passengers can be seen in Table III.
The relationship between attributes, consequences and values is identiable in these
two examples. The attributes of the average unpleasant passenger includes cancelation
or delay of a ight, bad service experience and lack signage, the consequence of these
include of being late, an increase in waiting time and a loss of control. Desmet and
Schifferstein (2012) explain that our values represent our beliefs of how a product or
service should behave or function. In this experience, the values for average unpleasant
Table III.
Summary ladders for
average pleasant and
average unpleasant
passengers
Average pleasant Average unpleasant
V Comfort in the experience V Information/Feeling of being in control
V Security V Entertainment
C Relaxed C Being late
C Everything is going to plan or as expected C Loss of control
C It is a known experience C Increase in waiting time
A Happy to be home or going away A Cancelations and delays
A Not a frequent yer but aware of the process
involved
A Bad service
A Free time A Lack of signage
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are having information so the feeling of being in control is there and entertainment to
overcome unexpected waiting times. The values of a positive emotion (average pleasant)
are comfort and security which are a result from the passenger’s airport expectations
being met. The values from the eight emotion categories include effective use of time,
time management, work and family balance, comfort, security, information (updates),
feeling of being in control, entertainment and a sense of accomplishment. These values
represent values meeting a variety of expectations which are inuenced by the
passengers’ attributes and consequences.
Theoretical model
The aims of this study is to understand how to increase positive (pleasant) experiences
of airport passengers with the usage of digital channels. To do so, Davis’s (1989)
technology acceptance model has been developed with the ndings of this study. The
conceptual model, similar to other researchers’ developments, include inuences on the
acceptance of technology; however, this model includes emotional insights as drivers or
inuencers in the acceptance and usage of digital channels (Figure 4). The model starts
with understanding the emotional insights (drivers) for the acceptance of digital
channels. This requires an understanding of passengers’ emotions in the context and
then laddering these insights into attributes, consequences and values.
By detailing and subsequently understanding these higher-order emotions provides
a perspective on how information is processed to understand it from a motivational
perspective (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988). The underlying reasons why an attribute
and/or the consequence are important, and are presented as a value. The awareness of
the digital channel must be communicated to be personally relevant to the user to
increase the perceived usefulness of the digital channel and overall acceptance of use.
The alignment of values, awareness of personal relevance becomes and perceived
usefulness acts as a motivator for interacting with the digital channel to achieve an
outcome resulting in action.
Figure 4.
Emotional
technology
acceptance model
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Reynolds and Gutman (1988) explain that consumers learn to choose products
containing attributes which are instrumental in achieving their desired outcomes. This
process species the rationale underlying why attributes and consequences are
important, namely, to understand personal values (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988). This
process requires understanding qualitative, in-depth information to gain an
understanding of a passenger’s emotions and underlying values to motivate digital
channel usage in respect to a given context. The pathways (ladders) from an attribute to
a value represent opportunities to provide or improve a positive experience, by not only
understanding issues to address but by communicating how the use of technology
(digital channels) can achieve a personally relevant outcome.
Translating emotional insights into positive airport experiences
From understanding the conceptual model to increase the usage of digital channels and
passengers’ emotional insights can inform the design of a digital channel. Digital
channels provide opportunities to connect and engage with passengers, building
relationships, before, during and after passengers visit the airport. They provide
companies with a direct and personal level of communication that in the past have not
been available to airport corporations, as many passenger interactions are solely with
partnerships of airports such as airlines and travel agencies. The importance of digital
channel design is attaining enhanced customer experiences is by emphasizing and
accentuating their value. Digital channels should have a main objective, to provide
information, entertainment or connect people (Straker et al., 2015). The design of a
channel can contribute to a passenger’s emotion such as providing enjoyment,
stimulation through new knowledge and satisfaction via being informed.
An example of a design goal could be to reduce the number of negative (unpleasant)
experiences across the airport experience. Attributes in the unpleasant emotions can be
used to identify concerns that passengers have with respect to the airport experience.
Attributes are content dependent; therefore, it is important to take the context into
consideration when assessing emotional insights. This process allows in-depth
information into not only what emotions passengers are experiencing but also why. By
using Straker et al. (2015) taxonomy of meta-characteristics (Table IV) of digital
channels, the appropriate content, purpose of use, direction of communication and
interaction rank can inform the design of a digital channel to best meet passenger
emotional insights.
To overcome unpleasant emotions, negative attributes experienced by passengers
must be overcome and consequences such as stress, boredom, loss of control and
unknowns in a new experience must be addressed. The value should come through the
engagements with the digital channels which should be focused on providing
information, entertainment and providing the passenger with the feeling of
accomplishment. From understanding the emotional insights of passenger and which
attributes need to be reduced to achieve a pleasant experience have been directed by the
negative attributes experienced by passengers. The value of the digital channel must
align with the key values of passengers which can inform the content and purpose of the
digital channel engagement. These ndings provide a guide to the requirements of
digital channel engagements in the airport experience. Upon entering (parking) and
exiting (arrivals), passengers’ emotions are less pleasant because of high stress and loss
of control in their experience. Therefore, passengers need to feel in control which can be
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Table IV.
Translating
emotional insights
into digital channel
designs
Area
Passenger characteristics Digital channel design characteristic
Emotional insights (unpleasant) Reduce attributes Value Content Purpose Communication Interaction
Parking The process should easy to do and
follow
I want to be excited to go on holidays
and no worry about the airport process
I don’t want to feel rushed and
frustrated
Loss of control
Stress
Providing control Information Functional Duplex High
Retail I want to be relaxed, clam and in control
of my experience
I need to enjoy my time at the airport
with friends/family
I should feel encouraged to do work
Loss of control
Boredom
Providing control
Entertainment
Accomplishment
Information
Promotion
Functional
Diversion
Duplex High
Gates I want to be distracted from the long
ight delays
I want to know why the ight has been
cancelled
I want to feel like I have used my time
wisely
Boredom
Loss of control
Entertainment
Providing control
Accomplishment
Promotion
Information
Diversion
Diversion
Duplex High
Arrivals I don’t like to be surprised, I want to
know where to go
Overcome
unknowns
Providing control Information Functional Duplex High
Sources: Straker et al. (2015);Reynolds and Gutman (1988)
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achieved through providing information through digital channel engagements. The
main purposes of these engagements are functional reasons such as waynding.
Information is also needed while in the airport (retail and gates). However, the loss of
control is felt in regards to ight delays; therefore, digital channels should provide
current ight status and reasons for delay (e.g. weather). Another key aspect of
unpleasant experiences in these areas was because of boredom; the value of digital
channels could be used to reduce these attributes by providing entertainment and the
feeling of accomplishment, allowing passengers to participate in recreational and social
activities through the digital channel.
Summary
The need for research in the airport industry is evidenced by the increasing trend of
digital technology adoption within airports. Academic researchers are yet to explore the
strategic use of digital channels in an airport setting, and its impact on passenger
emotions and overall experience. As deregulation and privatization continues, airports
will increasingly strive to improve the passenger experience to gain competitive
advantages. Fitzgerald et al. (2013) found that the adoption of digital channels allows
companies to increase customer engagement and improve customer experiences.
However, existing literature does not provide how digital channel can effectively engage
with customers in the delivery of a positive customer experience.
For these reasons, an understanding of airport digital channel engagements and
what passengers value are imperative. By being aware of the emotional journey of
passenger and understanding the relationship between attributes, consequences and
values can inform digital channel design and increase their usage. This study has
provided a number of novel ndings and contributions including a method for
designing, testing and measuring the impact of digital channels to understand the
impact on emotions via the use of the Emocards and laddering technique. Davis’s (1989)
technology acceptance model has also been developed to include emotional insights as
drivers to increase digital channel usage. It also highlights the importance of aligning
passengers’ values with achieving a personally relevant outcome to act as a motivator in
accepting and interacting with a digital channel.
This research is imperative as digital technologies are and will continue to
revolutionized the way that business is conducted. To take advantage of these advances
in technology, organizations must adapt to these changes. By managing digital
channels with the awareness of passenger emotions, organizations are able to
understand attributes, consequences and values to inform digital channel designs to
overcome negative emotional insights.
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Corresponding author
Karla Straker can be contacted at: k.straker@qut.edu.au
For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:
www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/licensing/reprints.htm
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