Re-envisioning the Airport Visitor Experience

Bluecadet’s Director of Strategy Brad Baer was recently invited to take part in an 18-person task force consisting of civic and business leaders. In partnership with the Committee of Seventy and the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) executive staff, the team evaluated PHL’s social media presence, employee engagement, and place-making.

“The wrong way of approaching social media is to point fingers or say ‘that’s not under our purview,'” Baer said, in a Philadelphia Business Journal story about the effort. “Instead, it’s important that PHL engages with visitors in a personal manner and does what they can to lessen the negative experience.  For example, if there’s a weather delay, the airport can take a more self-deprecating or humorous tone suggesting a fun scavenger hunt or letting people know it is the perfect situation to start checking off a list of the 20-plus whiskey options at one of the new restaurants,” Baer suggested.

Following a series of workshops, on-site research, and stakeholder interviews, the innovators created a 100-page preliminary report highlighting their findings, which will be used by the team at PHL to address major pain points. The group will reconvene later in the year to review progress to date. Along with some quick fixes including making the experience more consistent both on-site and off-site, the group speculated about future opportunities to leverage design and innovation to create a more visitor-centered experience. 

“Imagine a situation where a visitor’s ticket has an RFID chip which includes their flight info and native language,” Baer said. “Instead of having to filter through big screens where most of the information is irrelevant, passengers would see quick and clear directions displayed in a language or format they can understand. The result is an experience that seems personal, customized and VIP.”

A special thanks to David Thornburgh, Chris Satullo, and the team at Committee of Seventy for inviting Bluecadet to be part of this exciting process.

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For more information visit:

Philadelphia Business Journal – PHL, Committee of Seventy identify airport ‘pain points’ to address growth

Billy Penn – PHL Airport enlisted millennials to help make it less terrible

Technical.ly – ‘Project Runway’ could be a new paradigm for fixing Philly’s problems