The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) sees around 160 passenger flights per day from commercial airlines and approximately 6.7 million passengers annually. Recent airline announcements are contributing to sizeable increases in commercial passenger traffic and intensifying the use of its facilities. CVG expects to see the number of passengers increase by as much as 25 percent in a short period of time. To ensure the customer experience remains positive, CVG needed a solution to gain real-time insight into airport passenger flow patterns, especially for its restroom facilities in non-ticketed, public areas such as the baggage claim and arrival terminals. The desired solution would support housekeeping staff efforts to stay ahead of cleanliness targets and improve the overall customer experience.
Number of passengers could increase by
CVG gained real-time insight into facility usage based on the data generated from the staff’s smartwatches — improving the cleanliness of the airport facilities and the overall customer experience. For example, CVG discovered that there were 4,000 restroom users per day across the four restrooms that were piloted, and that the busiest terminal was the men’s arrival terminal. Additionally, it can now track how long it takes to clean restrooms and is considering using this data to motivate staff’s performance through gamification techniques. Other applications CVG foresees in the future for smartwatches include airport security, work-order tracking, maintenance callouts and preventative maintenance.
“At Hipaax, we’re constantly thinking about innovative ways to provide the most value to our customers. CVG is a leader among major U.S. airports to identify and deploy innovative technologies to deliver the best experience for passengers.”
– Bharat Saini, Chief Technology Officer, Hipaax
The Customer Need
Airport Traffic Growth Impacting Airport Maintenance Operations
With the announcements coming along with an increase in flights from its existing passenger airlines and the addition of new commercial airline brands, CVG’s airport traffic is increasing rapidly.
“Translating to passenger volume, it means an estimated 5,000 more passengers,” notes Brian Cobb, vice president of customer services at CVG. “We’re anticipating an increase of 25 percent within a very short period of time, placing additional volume-based demands on our stellar staff.”
Historically, housekeeping staff has worked on a cleaning routine based on the flight scheduling — cleaning after flight landing and takeoff times. This approach to restroom maintenance worked well pre-recession, when 80 percent of CVG’s airline passengers were connecting from one plane to another, making passenger flows relatively predictable. Today, however, 90 percent of CVG’s traffic is from the local market and only 10 percent are connecting passengers. This has changed the dynamic and made it more difficult to predict and schedule around peak times for restroom usage.
“We can pretty much tell you how many passengers will use particular restrooms on the secure side of the airport, where passengers are required to process through security with a boarding pass” says Cobb. “The variable is in the terminal building because it’s a public use space open to all, and you don’t need to have a ticket in order to enter the terminal or use the restroom.”
Operationally, this has been a critical issue. “Airport cleanliness is a key driver to overall customer experience. If you see poor cleanliness conditions, immediately you formulate an opinion, and that’s not the perception we want to be known for,” says Cobb.
To improve the situation, CVG turned to technology to help increase efficiency, match staff to peak restroom usage times and understand if staffing levels are appropriate for the passenger flow.
Samsung Wearable Tech
Designed for mobile productivity, The Gear S2 gives you access to important notifications at a glance.
Better Data and Insights Improve Customer Experience
For CVG, the results of their project with Samsung smartwatches has been highly positive. “It gives you a tremendous wealth of information, right at your fingertips, that we didn’t have in the past,” says Cobb.
For instance, through the program, CVG discovered there were over 4,000 visits per day across the four restrooms in the pilot. They also discovered that, despite their assumption that the women’s departure terminal facility was the busiest, data showed that the men’s arrival terminal was actually the busiest. Finally, the ability to remotely manage the smartwatches and restrict device use to only Hipaax’ task management software, enabled IT to better manage and deploy the solution to housekeeping staff without impacting their own productivity.
CVG managers are now looking at how to use the smartwatches to gain additional productivity data and set service level expectations, such as:
- How long does it take an employee to respond to an alert?
- How long does it take that individual to clean the facility?
- How long until another alert is triggered?
Knowing this type of information will help support the need for additional staffing with tangible data. It could also lead to enhanced employee performance through gamification and incentives, such as giving employees points for being the first to respond to a cleaning alert in the area, or for cleaning the facility within an allotted amount of time, and then rewarding employees based on who gets the most points each month.
CVG also recognizes the ability for smartwatches to minimize noisy, traditional radio communication to provide a quieter environment for travelers and potentially offer an added security feature. “Our housekeepers are one of our first lines of defense toward security,” says Cobb. “They’re trained to always look for security implications and potential concerns, so imagine an environment where they can quietly alert authorities.” When compared to a smartphone or tablet, wearables provide a more discreet method of communication for staff to interact with each other about potential security concerns.
The sky is the limit. From using smartwatches to create work orders, maintenance callouts or preventative maintenance, to elevating the airport experience, CVG managers are looking at a wealth of future possibilities for wearables.