Melbourne Airport invests in the development of front line retail staff

By Andrew Pentol |


The aim of the workshops is to help staff address the evolving characteristics, needs, challenges and opportunities presented by customers. 

Melbourne Airport is investing to enhance cultural awareness and communication skills for its front line retail and hospitality staff. The aim is to capitalise on the strong anticipated growth of the Indian and Chinese markets which will be an important focus next year.

Through a series of tailored workshops, staff are learning to address the evolving characteristics, needs, challenges and opportunities presented by customers from key international markets.

Melbourne Airport, which reported record passenger numbers in FY2018 and FY2019, does not directly employ retail and hospitality staff. But Rosemary Earner, Acting Chief of Retail said investing in the tailored workshops made sense for staff, passengers, retailers and the airport.

She commented: “Melbourne Airport is a great place to shop, a great place to work and a great place to invest — and front line customer service is at the heart of that proposition.

“Even the best customer service experience in the biggest suburban retail centres just doesn’t translate like-for-like into the airport environment. It’s important that we work in close partnership with our retail and hospitality tenants to understand that nuance — and help their teams do a great job in getting it right.

“Whether it’s a warm welcome or a fond farewell, what resonates with customers from one culture may completely miss the mark for customers of another.”


She added: “Last year, more than 11 million passengers travelled internationally through our doors, with around half of these being foreign nationals. We’re literally talking about millions of people who are each having multiple experiences of customer service on their journey through the airport.”


Melbourne Airport says front line customer service is at the heart of its retail proposition.

The airport has engaged Asian market specialists Trevor Lee and Lilly Choi of boutique consultancy TravConsult to deliver a bespoke training programme aligned with its strategy and international market objectives. TRBusiness discovered important details relating to the airport’s strategy and objectives in a two-part interview with Andrew Gardiner, Chief of Aviation Melbourne Airport and Chief Executive Launceston Airport published online earlier this year.

Lee said: “No two airports are the same, so when creating the tailored programme, we took into consideration the airport’s investment into creating a genuine Melbourne experience via its mix of local signature retail brands and coffee culture alongside international brands.”

“We also considered the evolving needs and service expectations of the maturing Chinese traveller and growing Indian traveller markets and the unique skills and knowledge required by the airport’s front-line staff to not only help deliver a culturally welcoming shopping experience for these important airport guests, but also one that influences them and converts them into buyers.”

Referencing a recent report produced by Swiss research company m1nd-set highlighting the rising significance of service excellence and quality of staff training, Choi-Lee remarked: “Melbourne Airport’s front-line teams are often the first and final impressions of not just Melbourne, but Victoria and even Australia.

“The result is a programme that ensures these key Asian guests are warmly welcomed in a culturally sensitive and engaging manner with our Melbourne pride and passion. This complements the sense of place created in the airport.”


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