Events News

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ARCEVENTS: Air traffic was not the most talked about subject at the Aerotropolis EMEA conference, held last week in Manchester. The most emphasised point among the speakers and delegates was connectivity, both by air and ground, because, as the co-author of the book Aerotropolis – The Way We'll Live Next, prof. John Kasarda said, "Accessibility is key".

According to Kasarda, Aerotropolis is more than just a transport hub, it is a strategy, a process rather than a project.

"Airports today are so much more than a place where aeroplanes land, they are enterprises, accommodating full set of cargo, logistics and commercial facilities on or around the premises," Kasarda said.

Kasarda emphasised that Airport City and Aerotropolis are not the same thing. Instead, Airport City is the most intensively used portion of Aerotropolis, with the passenger terminal functioning as a town square of a regular city.

Another interesting point Kasarda raised, was the distinction between aeronautical and non-aeronautical development. According to him, this is an artificial divide and a 20th century thinking.

 

"There is a huge misconception that non-aeronautical development isn't a direct benefit to aeronautical business. It improves passenger experience and financial health of the airport, as numerous airports achieve greater percentage of revenues from non-aeronautical services than aeronautical."

But let's go back to the importance of ground access. Kasarda stressed, that measuring the distance of Aerotropolis, the metrics is not how far away it is but how fast you can connect to either housing, offices or anywhere else you need to go.

"Aerotropolis is as much about air connectivity as surface connectivity," Kasarda said.

And many airport speakers, including Gatwick, Munich and Manchester agreed with this sentiment.

"We are a hub for rail connectivity as well as air," Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial Officer for London Gatwick Airport said presenting the significant investment into improving rail access to his airport.

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Edinburgh Trams started operating between the city and the airport on 31st May 2014. After long years of construction and many frustrated citizens, Edinburgh Trams managed to turn around the customer sentiment to anticipation and excitement through their well thought and playful social media campaign.

Today we are asking Tom Norris, Director and General Manager at Edinburgh Trams how exactly they achieved it.

- What was the biggest challenge in preparing for the Edinburgh Trams operations?

- Our biggest challenge was lining everything up to hit our go-live date; this involved mobilising the business, recruiting the staff, writing, assessing and testing all our operational and safety processes on top of training our staff to be ready on day one.

 

- What is the story behind the #tramspotting hashtag?

- Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting is reported to be a fan of our trams and prior to launch, during construction phase, he was a positive voice at a challenging time. He engaged with us on social media and with this in mind we thought the hashtag would be a great opportunity to spread the message about trams. The #tramspotting campaign launched when the first on-street testing began. This raised awareness (from a safety perspective) that trams were going on street for the first time by encouraging people to tweet their picture of the new vehicles.

 

- How much customer engagement did you receive via social media before the opening, and on the opening day of the Trams?

- 18 months prior to launch trams’ twitter account was dead in the water – inactive and with very few followers. Over the months a huge range of rich content and news was developed and deployed resulting in steadily increasing follower numbers. By operational launch followers were nearing 10,000 and level of interaction was huge with a reach of around 4 million over the four days surrounding launch.

 

- How big is your social media team and what are their main tasks?

- Around the launch phase we had six team members accessing the account and tweeting from various locations.  Now that we’re into operations, we have one full time social media officer for the group, who deals with customer service element as well as news and the campaigning side.

 

- What is your next challenge for the future?

- Our key challenge is to continue to deliver a safe, punctual, integrated and customer focused service as we continue through our first year of service.

 

Tom Norris is speaking at the UK AirRail 2014, taking place on 27 November at London Hilton Paddington Hotel. Register today and join the conversation >>>