Lifting spirits sky high

LinkedIn +

Airports and high traffic locations should all have a mood manager. We are people; we are ruled by the mood we’re in. When we’re not happy, we don’t function well, and to make matters worse, mood is contagious.

A 2014 study by Fowler and Christakis looked at the impact of happiness or sadness on friends. The problem with a person who lacks energy and enthusiasm is that their mood affects others – they can bring others down or pick them up. Moods are even more infectious than a cold in the workplace.

The good news is that it also works the other way around. If you are in the presence of a happy person, the probability that you will be happier goes up by 25%.

Happy travels

A positive mood is worth billions for companies in any shape and form. Coming from a background in the airport industry, I’ve been involved in the dynamics of the airport environment and learned a thing or two about the struggle with moods.

Let’s face it – flying is an adversary of anyone’s good mood. The stress factors around flying – airports can’t help being a key part in that – are just too high. The stress curve below depicts what a typical departing passenger experiences at an airport, and what it brings in terms of worries and anxiety.

Above: graph depicting the emotions of a typical passenger at an airport

Naturally, airports are well aware this. Airports and their business partners know that happy people spend more time exploring, are more open to their surroundings and use their dwell time to spend money. This is one of the reasons why airports invest enormous amounts of effort and money in the selection of shops and retail concepts, as well as the design and layout of the terminal.

Does this effort pay off? Yes, it does. The most developed airports improve their position in the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) ratings and in recent years these airports have seen a huge increase in non-aeronautical business.

However, because mood isn’t a static element in the overall experience at any commercial location, it needs the extra addition of someone who knows what buttons to push to get the mood right every hour of the day. A Mood Manager sensing what to do and when to do it to get the customers in the happy mood will lift their spirits – and their spending.

High-traffic locations are like theatres; they change with every crowd that comes in. Lights, sounds, smells, dynamic, temperature, movements, the whole atmosphere of the experience depends on what is happening inside the theatre.

Well-designed surroundings are undoubtedly essential in creating an attractive look and feel. But those surroundings remain a given and the customers that either trickle or pour into them will bring their own variable mood.

Ideally every single airport passenger’s mood should be managed, but it will take some time before we have an app that will make that happen.

The mood manager

In the meantime, the next best thing is a mood manager who’s sole responsibility lies with nothing more than creating the most ideal circumstances for people to feel relaxed, happy and in the mood to spend their time shopping, eating and drinking. It will mean mood management as part of the fabric of airport management; it is not just a matter of better lighting or a change of background music here and there, it needs an all-encompassing view.

Managing the mood of such a large area will involve the cooperation of many stakeholders, from the retail outlets’ owners to the people who run the technical department. Therefore it needs to be brought together by someone with the capacity to oversee every possible element that will create an agreed upon mood every day of the year. It needs someone who will be able to bring retail experience to the table as well as knowledge of consumer behavior in high-traffic locations. A people’s manager for sure, able to inspire everyone involved to help create the mood they will all profit from.

Would the addition of a mood manager work for other large organizations? Clearly it will, as long as the workforce consists of human beings. Bringing in a mood manager responsible for creating and guarding the right positive mood around any company will pay off in terms of higher productivity, greater motivation and involvement and will add a spark in terms of customer service.


Martijn Steur is an experienced commercial manager, consultant and entrepreneur specializing in strategy development and execution. He is the owner of Kinetic Consultancy in the Netherlands, and with a background of more than 15 years in developing high traffic locations in as many different countries, he has established a true global view. He is a certified experience professional – a practitioner and consultant on the strategic and tactical ways to help organizations improve their customer experiences and build their business.

July 29, 2016

Share this story:

About Author

Comments are closed.