Identity Crisis or Opportunity?

Paul Bowers

Identity Crisis or Opportunity?

Remarkable architecture can instantly telegraph specific locations. Show many people a certain famous opera house, arch and tower, and they'll easily name the cities of Sydney, St. Louis and Paris, respectively. Here in the airport industry, we have our own share of memorable architecture: Denver International's iconic white fabric peaks, the distinctive curved forms around the control tower at LAX, and even the blue-green carpeting at Portland International. (It actually engendered a cult following and inspired a line of gift merchandise!)

Of course, identity isn't always physical or visual. Sometimes, personal interactions create an organization's identity. Reno-Tahoe International recently showed its stripes with a customer service program for all of us to admire. (See Page 44 for the details.) 

Whether physical or cultural, identity is also moldable. It's up to you to shape what customers think of your airport; programs, policies and infrastructure improvements are your tools. When planning your next initiative, consider what makes your particular facility or market special. What's your raison d'etre?

In today's climate of justifying every dollar spent, it's easy to undervalue the potential power and worth of an airport's identity. Sure, there's enormous pressure to build cost-efficient facilities with streamlined processing abilities. They don't, however, need to be plain, utilitarian boxes that forgo grand opportunities to create environments that travelers want to experience and spend money in.

It takes risk, money and a lot of time and energy to build a great airport. But it's worth it. Do you think there was much remorse at DEN, LAX and PDX after their memorable facilities were unveiled? Today, more than ever, we need visionaries to step forward and provide our airports with unique identities. Dream big!

In our March/April issue, we inadvertently neglected to credit the source of the runway photo on Page 36. It was provided by Aerial Innovations of Georgia. 

Cheers,

 

 




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