Anita Mehra, Vice President of Communications and Business Development at Dubai Airports talks to us about various developments taking place at the airport for enhancing customer experience. She talks about the addition of new facilities, expedited check-ins, diversified dining options and a revolutionary digital experience for online visitors visiting the airport’s website.
Q: Dubai International has established itself as one of the busiest airports in the world in terms of international passenger traffic. In your opinion, what factors have played a role in achieving this benchmark? What facilities and services does Dubai International provide that make it a more popular transit hub in comparison to other regional airports nearby?
Anita Mehra: Underlying the success of Dubai International is Dubai’s open skies policy; its growing network connectivity; its attractiveness as a business and tourism destination as well as our continual investment in aviation infrastructure over the past 50 years.
Another factor contributing to our success isDubai’s geocentric location. The city is located within four hours flight from one-third of the world’s population and eight hours from two-thirds. This makes the city ideally located to connect passengers from east to west and north to south.From Dubai International, passengers are able to connect to all four corners of the globe, with more than 100 airlines serving 280 destinations.
Today we have an airport that connects passengers through world-class facilities with a wide range of services, from world-leading retail and shopping to an in-terminal hotel.
Q: What processes do you have in place to ensure passenger check-in goes as smoothly as possible? What steps have you taken to reduce long queues at passport control, boarding and check-ins?
Anita Mehra: Looking a little more broadly at the overall passenger journey through our airport, our challenge is to keep innovating to find better ways to get our passengers from kerb to the gate or from one flight to another in the shortest possible time.
Dubai Airports is constantly reviewing ways to make the airport experience memorable and stress-free. For example, over the past year we have invested in more than 100 new security tray machines across all terminals to ensure that passengers spend as little time passing through security. The machine – with its extended tables and on-demand security trays – means passengers are able to prepare long before they reach the security point.
Together with Dubai Immigration we have also introduced the Smart gates that allows travellers to simply swipe their passports before entering the UAE.
In check-in specifically, most airlines allow passengers to check-in online, saving on the time required to complete travel formalities at the airport.
Our ‘May I Help You’ team are also on hand to assist our passengers along their journey, be it check-in, immigration or security. Our aim is to ensure that passengers spend as little time completing these formalities and more time relaxing or using their time before their flight productively.
Q: In your opinion, what role is smart technology playing towards enhancing the passenger experience? What kind of online customer support do you provide for visitors coming to the Dubai Airport website?
Anita Mehra: The use of technology, and in particular mobile technology, will be key to streamlining the passenger journey. Increasingly, our passengers are engaging and interacting with our airports digitally and in real-time. Therefore, Dubai Airports is enhancing its portfolio of digital products to put the information our passengers seek at their fingertips while allowing them to better navigate their way through our airports.
This includes a fully redesigned website, www.dubaiairports.ae. The new site mirrors the passenger’s journey through our facilities from kerb to gate and provides information before they even arrive at the airport. The website’s clean and intuitive design and “Journey Genie” also enable passengers to customise the information they receive to their own specific flight and to receive specific information in real-time on an online customer chat service.
This is fully supported by Dubai Airports’ app, reflecting the same intuitive design and timely access to information. The app offers automatic and customised updates on flights, including gate changes or boarding times. Other useful features include the Flight Radar 24 flight tracking service and 3D airport maps that can be used to pinpoint all services, food and beverage and retail areas at both airports.
Looking forward we see the potential to further leverage technology and we continue to explore new ways of either making the travel formalities less cumbersome or offer a wide range of services.
Q: Please tell us about the airport dining services and how accessible these services are for passengers who are in different terminals?
Anita Mehra: Dubai Airports has partnered with some of the world’s best brands to ensure that we offer our passengers a wide choice of universally appealing products and services while elevating the overall user experience.
In 2013 we set a new standard in airport dining when we opened Concourse A, the world’s first purpose-built A380 facility, with a portfolio of great dining options including Carluccio’s, Giraffe and Wafi Gourmet among many other great brands.
With the opening of Concourse D in a few months’ time we will take that a step further with several firsts for the city and the region, including the introduction of Pret a Manger and a new fine dining experience in partnership with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
Elsewhere in the airport we also continue to review and revitalise our portfolio of more than 100 restaurants and coffee shops with new brands and concepts.
Q: What kind of financial services do you have available, in terms of money changers, ATMs and how accessible are these services to passengers in terms of approach?
Anita Mehra: Dubai International has a wide range of financial services across all three terminals from full-service banks and ATMs to currency exchanges operated by local and international partners.
Our mobile app is an ideal way for passengers to find a service best suited to their needs and location.
Q: What airport services, in your opinion, have become a must have as compared to being almost non-existent about a decade ago?
Anita Mehra: Passengers’ expectations of what they would like to find within our airport has evolved significantly over the past decades. They expect more choice and a wide range of services.
We have responded by introducing new services at Dubai International such as massage on the go at our Be Relax outlets or a place to relax such as our five-star Dubai International Hotel. In Concourse D we will be expanding our popular Snooze cubes where passengers can get an hour or two of sleep between flights.
Q: What new features and services are you planning to launch in the near future for improving the passenger experience?
Anita Mehra: Dubai Airports recognises that passengers waiting for a flight have valuable time that they would like to put to good use – be it catching up with work, sharing a meal with friends, shopping or spending time with family.
During 2014, following a detailed benchmark study and design process, we finalised several innovative design concepts to create welcoming new spaces where passengers can congregate and spend time.
These include a new family area built around the Zen Garden in Terminal 3’s Concourse B. This new facility features a creative children’s area that includes play equipment, television screens and baby changing areas. A range of additional seating has been added while a variety of food outlets is located next to the new family area. Other enhancements include redesigned washrooms, which now offer spacious and comfortable baby changing and nursery areas.
Concourse D will also offer a new portfolio of dining and relaxation options.
About Anita Mehra
Anita Mehra is Vice-President of Communications & Business Development at Dubai Airports, operator of both Dubai International and Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central.
Her career began in 1986 when she joined Dubai Duty Free to set up and head the Marketing & Media Relations department, pioneering promotional events such as the Dubai Tennis Open ATP Tour.
In 1996 Anita was tasked to set up the Marketing and Corporate Communications Division of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation. She was appointed to her current position in 2007, following the establishment of Dubai Airports as a commercial entity. In her new role, Anita was responsible for the launch a new corporate brand, putting Dubai Airports on the world map and continues to oversee all marketing, corporate communications, business development and CRM activities with Dubai Airports. Over the past decade she has also played an instrumental role in the successful hosting of the biannual Dubai Air show.