Why more airports should have apps, not.

Oh airports, airports, airports. Why do you always do this??? You market yourselves as a convenient location for spending (mandatory) time waiting for a flights to depart, with luxury shopping and eating too little seats that are not in a commercial establishment and then you mess up on some of the most basic things. I could write an entire book about the negative experiences I have had in airports and the appalling customer service that some airlines deliver some of the time, but that isn’t what I will focus on today in this post.

What I want to focus on for today is  why do airports have their own apps? Please answer me. It’s a genuine question that I am really trying to understand. So comment in the bottom if you have a view on this.

Visiting airports as I do I get bombarded with more information on their app and how to download their app than I do on how to connect to their wifi (another topic to discuss) or where the restroom is. And I cannot help but think that they must have wasted a lot of money on these apps. What is the return? Who actually downloads CPH airport app and uses it on a more than monthly basis for a sustained number of months? I suspect that if you look at the demographic you have 2 main groups of people who download and use it, let’s explore these:

  • People who travel seldom and go to the airport or in preparation for going to the airport download the app in the vane hope that it may help them find their way around the airport better. They will then delete it after their holiday is done or not delete it but will never open it again.
  • People who paid for the app to be created.

Can anyone think of anyone else? I can’t. If you answer a business person then you are wrong. I did a survey of the business people I know and none of them have the app. If they did they would have the app for every airport in the world and that is a lot of useless apps.

So who decides in an airport’s organisation that an app is a good investment for an airport or rather how do they justify the expense of paying for an app to be developed for their airport? Some ideas?

  • Marketing think it would be a great way to better promote the facilities the airport has to offer. read; drive more people to the shops and restaurants. This doesn’t materialize as no one uses it.
  • We need to have an app because, you know, apps. Probably the best reason I can think of to have an app. I mean, apps.
  • Our airport needs to be more accessible to all and an app will help travelers find the info they need about the airport quicker/easier. Clearly a user experience walk-through and a bit of money on some improved signage would be a better proposition. How many elderly people have a smart phone and out of that proportion how many know how to download an app and out of that many how many can read your app without then having to look for their glasses, oh and by that time they really should have found a bathroom already. Sorry.

So by this time I think we have 100% established the futility of an airport having it’s own app. So what can airports do to positively improve the user experience? I look forward to your suggestions!

What do you never leave home without?

As mentioned before I am an occasional international business traveler and have been for some years. I have found over that time the way I have prepared myself for trips has changed dramatically.

In the beginning it was of course a vast novelty (remember that?) and I therefore prepared and packed as if it was a novelty (i.e. going on vacation). I am sure we have all done this and the consequences are always the same. A massive checked in bag that is full of everything, some things I have packed in the past that it amuses me now to look back are:

  • Travel iron – why did I even?
  • Multiple pairs of shorts/swimming trunks – I wasn’t a regular swimmer back then and I wasn’t anywhere near a beach
  • Sun tan lotion – when did I think I would have time on a business trip to lie in the sun long enough to need this?????
  • Way too many clothes for “evening activities” – A suit looks just fine in a bar. Amateur.

I am sure there are many more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.

Do I need to explain to anyone why you should always avoid checking in a bag? If I do, leave a comment and I will write an explanation there. Needless to say I have learnt now to only check-in unless I cannot physically fit everything that I need into my carry-on. I will pay for washing at a hotel before I take a carry-on. You get your t-shirts folded (first time ever) and sometimes in a plastic cover, AWESOME!

travel-teddies-series-no-1555511

So, many years later, what are the things that I always pack in my laptop bag or carry-on and am VERY annoyed if I forget? Yes another list is coming people!!

  • Extension cord, why? See here
  • Wet wipes – a friend swears by these when going to Asia. I swear by them where ever I go. The restrooms of restaurants, factories, truck stops etc, inside of cars, trains, buses and aircraft are occasionally poorly stocked so having these on hand is superb. Don’t waste your time with that nasty gel. It doesn’t clean your hands just sanitizes them and then they feel all sticky and horrible
  • Tissues – the pocket size pack. Always handy and takes up no room
  • SPF facial moisturizer – because I’ve never seen a hotel room which has this as a toiletry and you don’t need sunscreen but it’s good to protect your beautiful mug, right? Also apply liberally before and during long haul flights so you don’t look like a dehydrated drunk when you get off the flight. For the same reason lip balm
  • Shampoo – Hotel provided shampoo is nasty and causes dryness and then your expensive suit will have a sprinkling of snow on it when you go to the customer meeting. Way to make a first impression there! Get a good shampoo decant into a mini bottle.
  • iPad – or another type of tablet if you want, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t have an iPad though. Books, movies, games, photos, email, news. Weighs nothing and fits on a tray table in economy.
  • VPN – maybe not a physical thing to pack but all your connectable devices should have a VPN enabled (not just work stuff). I will write a separate article on setting this up soon
  • Noise Cancelling headphones – I bought mine when I went to China 5 years ago. They cost a fortune but they still work perfectly today and I am VERY ANGRY if I forget to pack them. Watching movies or listening to music on a slight is transformed with these and you can drown out noise in airport and hotel rooms as well. They help me sleep and they make the whole experience of traveling more bearable. I use Bose but I am sure other brands are good as well

So that is my list. Please add in the comments other things that you always pack on your trips. Ladies, I am fully aware that there are some additional essentials for you that  us men may not require so please add them in and I will edit the post to have them included!

A rant about hotel rooms

If anyone knows any hotel executives please forward this post to them and ask them one simple question. Where do they charge their mobile phone?
I, like a huge number of people I am guessing, charge my phone next to my bed. Because I’m not a 13 year old girl (or my wife) this isn’t done to allow me insta access to Instagram but rather because I use my phone as my alarm clock and like to have it 100% charged at the start of the day in the somewhat vane hope that it may not need charging during the day. If you are with me in this give me a “hell yeah!”
I assume that people who have designed, commissioned and constructed hotels for the past 15 years largely share the same habit. So then why oh why did they fail to put a functioning power socket in anything resembling a close proximity to my bed? I mean there are more cushions than people on in the world on my bed when I arrive and definitely more cushions than there are power sockets close to my bed. Fashion over logic?
I’ve stayed in many hotels over the years. I’ve had a choice of pillow hardness, a dial that makes my mattress more or less firm, a boggling selection of light switches and reading lights to choose from  but time and time again what I see lacking is 2 power or usb sockets on the small table next to the bed.
Fortunately I came to the realization long ago that writing a blog post and complaining about this flaw in hotel room design would not change anything so I went and bought one of these:

extension-power-strip-hi
And when I remember to pack it.  I’m happy.

If we talk problem solving for a minute what I have implemented here is a containment solution. You can argue how sustainable it is  but it is not a permanent solution in my book.

How we solve this question permanently will also need an answer to the question as to why hotel room designers are incapable of realising what the real needs of hotel guests are and producing a room that meets those needs. That would be a very popular question to answer!