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EDITORIAL: Sort out service at airport


EDITORIAL: Sort out service at airport

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OVER THE NEXT decade Barbados will spend millions of dollars on upgrading the Grantley Adams International Airport. Given the importance of the sole airport to the country’s economy, particularly the contribution to foreign exchange, such an investment is a necessity.

But it could come to nothing if we do not address the vexing issue of customer service at the airport.

This is why the authorities at Adams International should not be defensive about complaints of poor customer service and should be happy for customer feedback, regardless of the origin. If the complaints are there for all to see, then the logical thing to do is to fix the problems.

The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association has consistently and publicly complained about the long time it takes to get out of the arrival hall. We are all well aware that when passengers arrive in Barbados, or are about to leave, they want to have comfort, convenience, cleanliness and customer service of the highest quality.

There is nothing to gain from trying to compare a long wait at Adams International with a similar experience at Miami International or JFK, New York. Barbados must aim to be the best rather than be ranked with the airports in Manila or Islamabad, or worse still, be considered the worst in the Caribbean.

It must be in Adams International’s best interests to offer top-quality customer service that would encourage people to post favourable views on social media, to give positive word-of-mouth comments, and to genuinely have a good experience. This must be so whether it concerns visitors or residents.

While the implementation of relevant technology, from self-service to mobile applications, are necessary, it will be people on the front line who will be responsible for the overall passenger experience that make a real difference. Not only the passengers are watching, but also airlines and foreign governments who may not take to social media to vent, but will make their views known where it matters.

For Barbados, which would like to become a US Customs and Border pre-clearance location, the overall customer service at Adams International must improve for passengers arriving or leaving.

Travellers fresh from long flights are not in the mood to spend an excessive time at another airport. Yes, security must not be compromised, but customer satisfaction must be maintained. As the country prepares for the winter tourism season and the hope of an even greater influx of passengers, we simply must get it right at our airport.

We ignore the complaints to our peril.