Centerlines - January 2008 - (Page 29)

IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE B Y J O DI R I C HA R DS P A S S E N G EF E F O C U S R AT U R E Houston encourages “friendly” attitude by honoring employees F Houston Friendly award ceremonies feature motivational speakers such as Joe Rentz from Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo ollowing a summer of record numbers of flight delays and cancellations, partnered with record numbers of unhappy travelers, there are still bright spots at the airports—the employees and their dedication to superior customer service. The Houston Airport System, which operates George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports, has for more than a year recognized the employees who go beyond the call of duty with a special awards program. In 2006, Houston Friendly—billed by the system as “an innovative approach to elevating customer service”—was implemented, and the program has since honored more than 200 outstanding employees of the airports and their partners. People have many choices regarding travel and where they connect, said Gray James, senior research analyst at the Houston Airport System, and improving customer service is one way to better the overall experience for travelers to and through the Houston area. The Houston Friendly program was created to “impart a little bit of the warmth and hospitality that Houston is known for to our passengers,” James said. The Houston Airport System is part of the economic engine that drives business and commerce through the region. It contributes more than $24 billion to the local economy on an annual basis and supports more than 151,000 jobs. Since the program is designed to encompass everyone who does business at the airports—not just the Houston Airport System staff—the program is administered by a committee of representatives from all aspects of the airport business, including airlines, administration, concessions and contractors. “It’s a wide-based support committee that really runs this program and makes the decisions regarding who is going to be rewarded,” James said. “It’s really a team effort.” The team philosophy is part of the success of the program, James said. “There’s a lot more buy-in if they feel that they’re directly involved. It also spreads the net in terms of the base of nominations that we get.” The Houston Airport System employs roughly 1,500 people, while other entities operating at the airport employ upward of 45,000 more. “It would not be effective to simply decide that only the airport employees are going to do it,” commented Marlene McClinton, media relations manager for the Houston Airport System. “You’ve got to have everybody involved and onboard.” | CENTERLINES 29

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Centerlines - January 2008

President’s Message
Canadian Airports
Associates’ Corner
Policy Center
Regulatory Front
On the Hill and On the Stump
One on One: Dave Barger
Revenue: The Concessions Awards
Environment: O’Hare Expansion
Passenger Focus: Houston Friendly
Safety and Security: After Comair, What Next?
Air Service Recruiting: Charleston’s Acquisition of AirTran
On Management: Performance Benchmarking at DFW
Now Underway
Grand Opening
Conference Previews and Reviews
New Members
Index of Advertisers/
Box Scores

Centerlines - January 2008