Helsinki Airport in Finland served more than 300,000 Chinese passengers in 2015, marking a 50% increase year-on-year. It was the first time Chinese passengers outnumbered Russian travelers at the airport and, as a result, Finnish operator Finavia began a guide service in June to help cater for Chinese customers in their native tongue.
Jukka Isomäki, director, Finavia, said, “For us, Chinese customers are an important group that we wish to serve to the best of our abilities. It has been great to see that the Chinese travelers have discovered our guide service. The commercial operators at the airport have also expressed their gratitude, as their sales have improved thanks to the Chinese travelers being helped by the service.”
Chinese passengers spend more money at the airport than any other nationality, and the majority of the guides’ work involves commercial services. Among other things, the guides can recommend souvenirs and gifts, assist with tax free matters and know which credit cards and payment methods can be used at the airport.
Zhouyan Li, one of the guides at the airport, said, “Chinese travelers wish to buy Finnish products as souvenirs, but cannot tell which products are Finnish and are often unable to request assistance in English from the sales staff. Many questions are indeed about Finnish products and ideas for gifts. For travelers, the service in Chinese comes as a pleasant surprise.”
In early 2016, Finavia signed a co-operation agreement with Capital Airports Holding Company (CAH), China’s largest airport operator, with the aim of developing the connections between Finland and China, in particular the connection between the Helsinki and Beijing airports. The Chinese guide service will continue at Helsinki Airport throughout 2016 and may be adapted to include a personal shopping assistant service at a later date.