The Hold Room

Join us in The Hold Room, a bi-monthly podcast brought to you by the Airport Consultants Council! The Hold Room will explore the latest trends in airport development and passenger facilitation both here in the U.S. and around the world. Conversational, informative, and sometimes irreverent, expect unique insights from ACC leaders, members, airports, and industry experts as we breakdown trends directly affecting airport development, including: the future of passenger facilitation; airline industry prognosis; airport construction practices; and legislative and regulatory updates. We will also explore the issues affecting your company, including increasing diversity in the industry, financial trends and challenges, and recruiting, developing and retaining employees, just to name a few. Don’t miss this new opportunity to engage with ACC - you never know who you might run into while hanging out in The Hold Room!
  • Season 2, Episode 23: Bathroom Compilation

    Today in the Hold Room we get to hear all of the wonderful responses throughout Seasons 1 and 2 to “What is your favorite airport bathroom?” We learned very early on that the bathroom experience makes a big difference in the overall passenger experience of an airport. Some of the responses we heard repeatedly and some responses are unique and specific to one airport. We hope you enjoy this light-hearted and fun last episode of Season 2 of The Hold Room.

    The Hold Room, Season 2 Episode 23 – Bathroom Compilation




    TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council.

    Laura C.: This episode is part of the passenger experience series hosted by ACC's Terminal and Facilities Committee. In this series, we are collecting the experiences and perspectives about the future of passenger travel, including changing demographics such as the U.S. population aging and becoming more multicultural, new technologies, labor and supply chain shortages, and what the future may have in store. Thank you for joining us in the Hold Room.



    Laura C.: Bathroom. Restroom. Water Closet. Washroom. Loo. Lavatory. Potty. John. Whatever you call it, these facilities serve one of our most basic human needs. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that they are integral to the airport passenger experience. In this special compilation episode, we asked all our friends who joined us on this previous season of The Hold Room one simple question: What is your favorite airport bathroom? Everyone had something to say, whether they were shouting out a specific airport’s bathrooms, or they were describing features of what their favorite bathroom would be. Listen ahead and find out if your home airport received a shoutout.

    Laura C.: Anita Cobb at Mead and Hunt.

    Laura C.: Do you have a favorite bathroom? Like, where’s your favorite airport bathroom?

    Anita Cobb: Oh my gosh, thank you for asking me this because now is my time to shine. My favorite bathroom in the continental United States is Dallas Fort Worth. They have the best bathrooms ever because they have tush lights. Tush lights are the smartest thing in the world! I want every business everywhere to have tush lights. It only makes sense to see that somebody's occupying a stall by a big red light so that you don't have to bend over at the waist and make your hair touch the ground just to be able to see who's in the bathroom. And I think their doors go all the way to the floor so you don't have to be weird about it too. And then I also love the fact that they have the maps, and then it shows you how many people are in the bathroom, how close is the nearest bathroom—best bathrooms ever! I love it. I cannot advocate for tush lights anymore than I can for their use at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport. I absolutely love that.

    Laura C.: Anthony Barnes at ADK Consulting and Executive Search.

    Max V.: Something that we've been asking all of our guests: what is your favorite airport bathroom and tell us why.

    Anthony Barnes: That's a very funny question. I actually do not have a favorite airport bathroom. I actually do not remember a lot of airport bathrooms because I'm usually running in and running out before getting on a plane. But what I find pleasure in are clean facilities, making sure that it's stocked with supplies, the hand dryer works, making sure that there's adequate space in the stalls and getting throughout the restroom. I've been to some restrooms where it's been a little small. But, you know, just making sure that it's adequate space, and then easy navigation in and out—that I'm not running into someone as they're coming out. And you know, all of that. So, easy navigation.

    Laura C.: Angela Berry-Roberson at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    Laura C.: What is your favorite bathroom?

    Angela Berry-Roberson: You know, I don't remember the airport, but I know what features I like. That one with the lights so you don’t have to go all the way down, and like, oh dang, there's somebody up in there—that was ingenious! And then having stalls big enough. Some of us are not our college size anymore, and so, you know, it might get a little difficult maneuvering to try to get into the stalls with luggage or with kids. There's always that family bathroom, but still, that maneuvering of getting in and getting out. And how that stall opens—open out as opposed to open in. Small little things. I don't remember which one it was, I don't know if they had all that together, but these are pieces of what looks like an ideal bathroom.

    Laura C.: Courtney Pene at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.

    Laura C.: We'd like to ask you: what is your favorite airport bathroom and why?

    Courtney Pene: My favorite airport bathroom is the Albuquerque Sunport. I remember flying in there late one night—my husband and I were going for an adventure at the Grand Canyon—and so we flew in there and I thought, gosh, I really need to go to the bathroom. It's clean; there is really wonderful mosaic tiles in there; and we did this about ten years ago, and the fact that I can still remember that is amazing. Clean, wonderful public art—what more can you ask for, right?

    Laura C.: Absolutely. And you're not alone. I was just looking it up as you were talking; Alec Baldwin said the same thing.

    Courtney Pene: Yes! Yes! Yeah. They recently put it out on LinkedIn and I was like, I agree! It's an amazing bathroom!

    Laura C.: Laura Jones and Annabelle Klein representing Flight Club 502.

    Carrie W.: We have an episode that we eventually want to do on everybody's favorite airport bathroom.

    Laura Jones: You’re talking to people who don't travel commercially.

    Annabelle Klein: Signature Aviation's great, BNA Nashville’s airport bathroom—pretty great.

    Laura Jones: Okay, I can tell you a bathroom that I would want if I flew. Okay, there is a really cool place here in Louisville called 21C, and they have the best bathrooms.

    Annabelle Klein: They do.

    Laura Jones: And what you do, you go into the bathroom, and you can see through the wall, but the people can't see you. So you can see all the people walking by, and you know, there's like a mirror.

    Annabelle Klein: One-way.

    Laura Jones: It's a mirror. So everybody's, like, scratching their nose and pulling their ears and doing stuff with their hair. And you're in the bathroom and you're watching these people…

    Annabelle Klein: …come up to the mirror and check out their makeup.

    Laura Jones: and they do not realize, because it's like—maybe it's only in the women's bathroom, maybe the men's bathroom doesn't have it. But I haven't been to the men's bathroom, but maybe we should try. But when you go, you—the people do not know that you can see them from inside the bathroom. And I like that bathroom. I would put a bathroom like that in the airport.

    Annabelle Klein: We'll get one like that at Flight Club.

    Laura C.: Daniel Barton at InterVISTAS.

    Anita C.: So, Daniel. Favorite bathroom. Gotta know. What's your favorite airport bathroom?

    Daniel Barton: Well, I'll go with one that I experienced just two days ago. Denver expanded both their B and their C concourses relatively recently, and I happened to be on the C concourse. Just a fantastic bathroom, I tell you what. Big gateway into the bathroom, and then really wide open spaces, and then behind the sinks was a giant window while looking out onto the airfield. I was there with my two boys, my two sons, and we were washing our hands and turned around, and they did not want to leave the bathroom. They wanted to watch the aircraft on the apron. So, two thumbs up for the bathrooms at Denver.

    Carrie W.: I've been in those bathrooms, and it's crazy because you see this big window in the bathroom, and you're like “Oh! What's doing there?”

    Laura C: Carrie Shaeffer at Swinerton.

    Max V.: So Carrie, could you tell us what your favorite airport bathroom is and why?

    Carrie Shaeffer: My favorite bathroom at airports are the bathrooms in Austin, Texas, because the murals that enter the bathrooms are just beautiful, and I like to just stand there and stare at them as long as I don't start to look creepy looking into the bathroom. But I think they're gorgeous. And functionally, they're very easy to find. As I said before, we like to be able to see where the closest bathroom is from anywhere. So I think that has both those things. It has beauty, and it has functionality going for it. So I pick Austin, Texas.

    Laura C.: Hersh Parekh at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

    Laura C.: Oh, are we still doing the favorite bathroom, or do we have enough for that? Unless Hersh, you wanna mention, do you have a favorite airport bathroom?

    Hersh Parekh: I don't have a favorite bathroom, but what I will say is we took a lot of time to ensure that our bathrooms got a total renovation as well, because oftentimes what you see in customer surveys is their worst experience in an airport often time relates to the bathroom. So now, that was such an important part of redeveloping LaGuardia was making sure that we broke that perception. In the stalls you have doors that are sort of slanted a little bit so that as you're trying to close it, you're not hitting yourself on the door. There's like the hooks to, like, hang your luggage or your carry-on or whatever. The faucets are handless. Ledges above the sinks as well. And on those ledges, we have beautiful orchids that don't require a lot of water, don't require a lot of natural light, and they can still grow and look beautiful, and add that extra touch to the restrooms. So again, really looking at how to really make the customer experience, even in the bathrooms, as strong and as positive as it could be. The bathrooms really are getting recognition on their own. There was a survey done a year or two ago where LaGuardia Terminal B’s restrooms ranked number two. But that really showed how much things have changed. So, no favorite bathroom, but if you're visiting LaGuardia, definitely come to make sure you experience our bathrooms because, there was a lot of time and energy and effort and money that went into really creating amazing bathrooms.

    Laura C.: Brandon Thrasher and Michael Lindsey at HLB.

    Carrie W.: I'm going to ask, what's your favorite airport restroom?

    Brandon Thrasher: I was recently at Midway where they have renovated some of the restrooms and those were pretty nice. They had daylighting in them as well, as we were talking about.

    Michael Lindsey: Well, I will say that I don't have a specific one. However, I tend to be a taller individual than most, so I am thankful for any restroom that has a ceiling above nine feet. That's my win. That makes me feel comfortable.

    Max V.: Michael, I have to ask you: how tall are you?

    Michael Lindsey: I'm not that crazy tall. I'm 6 foot 7. But I'm tall enough that it's almost an inconvenience. Then I think about, there's plenty of folks that are much taller, so, yeah.

    Max V.: There are not that many folks that are much taller.

    Laura C.: That's it from our restroom compilation episode. Did your home airport not get a shoutout but deserves one? Or have you experienced a fabulous feature in an airport bathroom? We want to know. Visit the Airport Consultants Council's LinkedIn page and leave a comment on the post for this episode. Or, create your own post on LinkedIn using the hashtag #TheHoldRoom. We’d be thrilled to hear from you about what makes a great airport bathroom.



    Wendy H.: Thanks for joining us in The Hold Room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. You can find more from this series on the ACC Training Hub—that's, or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc. Follow us for more content from the Airport Consultants Council. You can support this podcast by leaving a rating or review and by telling your friends and colleagues about the podcast. Thanks again.

  • Season 2 Episode 22: Michael Lindsey and Brandon Thrasher

    Today in the Hold Room we are talking to Michael Lindsey and Brandon Thrasher of HLB about equity in lighting and what an impact lighting can have on the passenger experience. What we learn is that it’s not just the lighting itself that can influence a person’s emotions in a space, but its impacts on the surrounding spaces, backgrounds, textures, and the interplay of natural lighting and electric/artificial lighting. Please join is to hear more about what considerations and questions are important throughout the design process to maximize the passenger experience and provide equity in lighting.

    The Hold Room, Season 2 Episode 22 – Michael Lindsey and Brandon Thrasher



    TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council.

    Laura Canham: This episode is part of the passenger experience headers hosted by ACC's Terminal and Facilities Committee in this series. We are collecting the experiences and perspectives about the future of passenger travel, including changing demographics such as the US population, aging and becoming more multicultural, new technologies, labor, and supply chain. Shortages and what the future may have in store. Thank you for joining us in the Hold Room.



    Carrie Wojcik: Welcome back to the Hold Room, everyone. We're really excited to have Michael Lindsey and Brandon Thrasher with us from HLB. I think it would be really great to kick off this interview by having you both introduce yourself.

    Michael Lindsey: Appreciate that. I'll jump in first. So again, my name is Michael Lindsey and I'm an associate principal with HLB lighting design. I actually began my journey in the lighting design field about 17 years ago as an intern for our Los Angeles office and I was lucky enough to join the staff full time and haven't looked back since. In 2016, I returned home to Colorado. It's where I grew up and originally from and spearheaded the opening of our Denver office. So, it was a geographic expansion for our firm and it started with just me and one other individual. And I think now we're at about 18 individuals here in the office. So, something I'm really proud about and, you know, really the beauty of what our industry of lighting design and our firm offer is this variety of project type and market sector. So, in my 17 years now in the industry I've really worked on every different type of project out there, whether it's a small and intimate kind of 600 square foot elevator lobby or a million square foot aviation terminal. As it relates to the goals that I have within industry, really top of mind to me is education. Education about what it is that we do as a lighting design professional. Ahead of my time were really true pioneers in our industry who helped establish the foundation of our profession. And I'm lucky enough to be standing here today because of that. But the reality is that our work isn't done myself and my other industry colleagues are always looking to educate and let people know what it is we do and the value we bring to the environment. We are always striving to have lighting design with a seat at the table a little bit about me, I'll hand it over to you, Brandon.

    Brandon Thrasher: Yeah. Thanks, Michael. I'm Brandon Thrasher. I'm a senior principal with HLB and I'm the managing principal of our San Francisco office. My journey kicked off a little bit differently. I started off in theatrical lighting design and I really dove into crafting designs for live events and museum work when I first started. But life takes its twists and I gradually got pulled into the architectural aspect of the field and I've really been hooked ever since. I also had a stent at Henderson Engineers and during my time there I took on the role of the Director for their architectural lighting group. It was kind of interesting to me because I didn't come from an engineering background. My background was in theater, but that experience really did open up my eyes to the engineering side of things and it's just kind of fun how life mixes things up a little bit. My goals are really to create cool lighting designs and really to have the team work together to make sure that our designs really align perfectly with the whole architectural aesthetic. And I really love to use light as a medium to give spaces feelings that you just won't forget. I think that my theater background is a big part of why I'm so passionate about that and creating those one-of-a-kind experiences for those spaces.

    Max Vale: Awesome. Well, thank you both very much. Let's pick up on a couple of things that each of you said and these are this is kind of the same question directed at both of you. Michael, you talked about how lighting elevates the environment that folks find themselves in. And Brandon, you talked about how lighting can give space feelings. Could both of you expound upon what that means and how those things are achieved through lighting?

    Brandon: Lighting plays such a big part of the feelings that you have when you walk into a space. I think it's really a subconscious element that people don't always notice. But when you're in a space that has great lighting, you can really feel the energy or feel whatever emotion that is really associated with that that creates that atmosphere. And I always like to think that good lighting is something that you don't really perceive, but you usually perceive bad lighting. So, we want to try and give spaces a good feeling through lighting and my design process is always about what is the feeling that the space is going to have and how can we create that feeling through lighting in conjunction with the rest of the architecture, but really being able to highlight that throughout the space. And creating that journey, because sometimes we want to take people through different feelings as they go through the space and so really creating those different areas for people to either relax or dining or whatever the case may be.

    Michael: And I think to build on you had mentioned, I tend to use the word elevate a lot because lighting design is something that theoretically anyone can do. Obviously, we believe strongly and those who've experienced those with education to really execute that. And I think the proof is in that experience, once you've been a part of it. Certainly so much of what we do, there are requirements of light levels and energy code and those things that need to be met, but they can be met in a whole variety of ways, and oftentimes people have the misconception that a strict energy code, a strict budget, means that you can't be creative and you can't elevate design. And that's really not true. We pride ourselves as design professionals to really step up to the challenges. And how do we create something special? How do we create something that's memorable while working within those various constraints? And so, for me, each project is unique and different and how we elevate it will always vary depending on all the different factors that go into design. But it is always possible and having that seat at the table being a part of those conversations collectively we can do really great things with our design partners on behalf of ownership groups.

    Carrie: That is awesome. I think that having a theater background is really an interesting touch that you get to add to the projects that you're involved with, Brandon. One thing that really caught my attention is you were both talking about connection points. Elevating the experience. Creating emotion and Michael brought in the topic of talking with stakeholders. What that's going to look like while dealing with the practical side of things. I would be interested in knowing how that process goes. What are the types of goals or emotions or experiences your clients are wanting to create and how are they going through that process with lighting and working with your team?

    Michael: I'll start with that it really is dependent on the project type. There are some projects, in particular those that are much more exterior driven or perhaps a little bit more monumental things like bridges, building facades, things that frankly have a very outward neighbor focused condition. In those instances, we are responding to the surrounding community and it's something that you could be standing on your back porch overlooking this beautiful lake and then all of a sudden this bridge comes in and you're trying to light it. Well, those stakeholders. Have a really strong voice, as they should, in what we're doing, and so it's really important for us early and often to engage them in the conversation. Everybody has an opinion and those voices should be heard. So even in a private office condition or in the aviation world in which you're interacting with a port that's kind of representing their employees and staffing as well as passengers, we need to hear from them. No one knows their building, their staff, their community better than those that are living in it. Certainly, as design professionals, we try to ingrain ourselves in that as much as possible. But the real first step is that listening and so certainly we pride ourselves and getting involved early, coming to those conversations with the sense of curiosity and desire to learn. And from those conversations, then evolve into how do we support those things that are really positive for them that are really working well already? How do we continue to build on that? And then what are those pain points that we hear about and how might we resolve. And it's never a linear process without a doubt you're going back and forth, and it's not just a one-time conversation, something that you need to continue to revisit throughout the design of a project that we find in that conversation. The end result is then really something that's well received and people are really the most excited about.

    Brandon: I'd also say I think just reiterate Michael's point is that it's important for lighting practitioners to get involved in those conversations early. Sometimes it gets forgotten that we need to be talking to the stakeholders as well.

    Max: Let's pick up on that a little bit more. So, you want to have your lighting reflect what the local culture needs; what the local stakeholders need. This is obviously such a niche topic that a lot of people I think don't think about. Like you said, that it's mostly subconscious on a practical level, what are the techniques used? And let's talk specifically about an airport terminal environment that can help reflect the values that the community has when you're looking at lighting design?

    Michael: Earlier, Brandon touched on it a little bit in that I find as a lighting designer, we tend to be most successful when people are not responding or reacting to lighting, but they're instead responding and reacting to the space itself. Whether it's volume, it's texture, it's materiality. Most of the time if we do our job well, people are responding to that. And so kind of in response to your question, a lot of the cues that we take are from our design partners with those interior designers, airport planners, architects, folks that have ingrained themselves also in the culture in which we're trying to depict in these spaces. And we're really looking to support that with how do we execute and, again, elevate. You'll hear that word a lot. Those materials and spaces with lighting. So, if we do our job well, I believe strongly that you're not recognizing the light itself, but you recognize the beautiful trellis there on the side wall or the or the texture and materiality of the carpet, those spaces that really have already been identified as real cultural pieces by the designers themselves. Certainly, you'll also hear and there's a, you know, big desire for a level of branding or a level of again reflection of community that can be communicated with colored lighting. I think we always want to be careful and tread carefully there to again make sure that it's representative of the community as a whole. Not everywhere is Las Vegas. There should be a different feeling if you're walking into a Las Vegas airport, than in Birmingham, but it doesn't mean that it can't have a place. But it's again that engagement with the Port Authority themselves, making sure they're comfortable with it. What is it representing and educating on them on its use and everything as well.

    Carrie: Thank you, Michael. Within the airport as well, there's a lot of concerns about just how passengers are changing. Who is traveling? Doing what is their ability level? Are they able to navigate the airport? So as you're getting involved in a project like an airport, the ability is just different depending on the passenger. The communities can be very different. How are you ensuring like there's equity in the lighting design and that it's accommodating all the passengers needs?

    Michael: As an industry, we are grappling with as many people are. What is equity in the field?

    Brandon: We got brought in on an interesting challenge by a client to look at lighting for video conferencing on an equity level. The client wanted to look at video lighting setup that would be fair for those sitting in the room as those that we're joining remotely. But while we started to dive into the topic, one of the things that came up and we started to study, which was kind of really interesting, is the issue of lighting color temperature and skin tone. So, we all have amazing skin tones and different skin tones, but not all skin tones look great under the same kind of lighting. So, we really went down that track and started to look at that more. We tried to do research on what is out there and what studies have been done. Surprisingly, there's not a lot of studies that have been done solve that puzzle. So, I would say one thing we really do need to do some more research and look at how those two elements fit together, say that there's really more to explore on that front so that everybody looks their best under lighting because it's a big part of our daily lives. But as we go back to equity also is that one of the things that our firm also does is we look at daylighting and how does daylighting and natural lighting all blend together, and one of the things as we're developing our designs here, we talk about equity and there's people with visual disabilities or different sensitivities to light. So, as we're talking about daylighting and even electric lighting, making sure that there's not glare in these facilities because that could be really disabling to some people. And also the people that work in these facilities, depending on where the gate agents or TSA depending on how they're oriented, it could be really problematic for those. So this is a wide topic, but it is something that is really important. And also, if you think about wayfinding, that's another important element that can be related to lighting and lighting can enforce those cues as you're moving through the facility and help with that as well. But I'd say there's just a lot of elements that all sort of need to fit together and create those environments that those that have different visual abilities or sensitivities can also function the same as anybody else throughout the facility.

    Michael: I’ll build on that quickly because they think we talk about equity and lighting specific as it relates to airport facilities and concourses and things. It really all starts with recognition to me. It's easy, it's obvious to recognize that the passenger experience tends to be at the top of the list, makes a lot of sense. They're the ones coming in and out in essence paying the bills at the end of the day. But their experience is often short and temporary yet can leave a really lasting impact, hopefully in a positive nature, but I think we all have stories of negative as well. But what we find is that it can often at times be forgotten that these facilities are also office buildings for folks. They're here 8-9 hours a day, sometimes likely longer, and so our design and our thought process can't simply be about the passenger experience, but it also needs to focus on the employee. Brandon noted it of whether it's a gate agent, a TSA employee. Lighting both the integration of natural as well as electric needs to be comfortable. We find that rightfully so, these spaces are now opening up a lot more into much larger expansive volumes and introducing thankfully that access to natural, light line of sight to outdoors and it's such a critical element to bring those in and integrate them thoughtfully because it really is such a valuable tool to reinforce those positive experiences. Often travelers are jumping multiple time zones, they may not know what day it is. And so, the opportunity to exit a plane and immediately see the sun in the sky or the ambience of kind of the glowing moon helps provide those quick cues to you as an individual of really what's happening. Touching on the equity of it, it really is we believe strongly in that integration of natural light and in that view to the out of doors and making that available to everyone, certainly not every room can have a window looking outside. But thankfully the design partners that we've been working with so much are integrating that more so and our job is to do so successfully and partnering it in a holistic manner with electric lighting as is.

    Brandon: Also, just wellness. Making sure that, as Michael mentioned, those that are traveling can get back onto their rhythm, their daily rhythm. We talk about that the passenger experience a lot, but we talk about equity and lighting. We have to think about a lot of these facilities run many hours, if not 24 hours a day. We have night shift workers and we talk about it a lot for hospital environments, but we don't really talk about it in these other types of facilities a lot where we have shift workers and helping them as well with whatever they may need to keep people alert or making sure that their circadian rhythm is in line too. So, it goes a little bit deeper. But I like to think of it as wellness.

    Carrie: It definitely is a wellness concept. The thought process on the video conferencing and the lighting and accommodating different skin tones as a woman who uses a lot of makeup it is really interesting when you start diving into the history of makeup and how it used to bleach skin and was, essentially designed for not a huge variance in skin tone, so it's kind of interesting how history repeats itself. That's pretty fascinating to me.

    Max: Michael, you mentioned that if a passenger is moving through an airport, it's generally speaking a fleeting moment, but it still plays into the passenger experience very much. An example I could think of is if I'm using the restroom and I'm washing my hands and I look up and see myself in the mirror, and if I'm under an electrical light, that makes me look like a zombie, then that's going to influence my experience as a passenger. Same with employees. If they're on a video call in the offices back of house, you can see yourself in the little corner of the screen, and especially because so much of what we do these days is virtual. Poor lighting is certainly bound to have an impact on an employee’s emotional health, but it's all on a subconscious level. Predominantly, I'm curious a little bit more on the technical side when we're talking about electrical lighting, what materials tend to be used and can be helpful in responding to a lot of the fact that we're moving through different times of day.

    Michael: Natural light was the very first light source. There's nothing that can mimic it, can replace it. It always should be top of list top of mind when looking to try to illuminate a space. Now again speaking to the aviation world, we know that these facilities are operating well past the daylight hour so it can always be the case. But the real embracing and integration of that natural light source into all spaces is really important. We've seen a big push and trend into a lot of restrooms moving out of sort of the central core of a concourse and really starting to push more toward the perimeter. So, you do have that integration of natural light even when you're just in the bathroom for two minutes. It really is utilizing that tool first and foremost. I think also Max to answer your question, so much of what we do is based on experience and that doesn't mean that you have to be a lighting design professional, but just as an individual that's focusing on the surroundings of a space. There have been very astute studies that even just the directionality of light can evoke different emotions and different feelings, and that's why I always challenge people to say you don't have to be a designer. You can be a software technician, but you can still have an opinion and it's still valid of how a space, how an environment makes you feel.

    Brandon: I would say not any material specific, but I would say the finished color really play an important part. Looking at those finishes, how does that look during the day? How does it look at night under the electric lighting? Because those two experiences could be very different and very different in a positive way. But on the flip side, you could have something very different in a negative way that is not intended. So, I think that's another element to look at during the design process.

    Carrie: I think of Denver Airport and it's outside. There was natural light.

    Michael: I still remember a similar experience, but it was in Las Vegas at a hotel that was 40 feet up in the air and they had windows in the the restrooms. That was my memorable experience just to say wow, this seems odd that when I would have windows the restroom, it is more of a memorable experience than I think people are incorporating.

    Carrie: And it gives that feeling of looking in the mirror and you don't look like you're dead tired. You look energized, there's natural light on you. So interesting how that has an impact.

    Max: So, when you're at the table with airport designers and airport construction managers, what are some questions that you tend to bring to the table that are often overlooked by these folks?

    Michael: I tend to start with the question of what's working well. For you in your current space your current building. What? What are some of the positives? Focus on our positives and continue to do that and build on that. And then equally diving into what's not working for you. Part of our job is to challenge the comfort zone of a client. It's not uncommon that we'll have clients talk about lighting controls are too complex and we just want very simple switches and things on the wall. And the reality is that for good reason, energy code tends to be pulling us away from that type of mechanism, and so our job is to again hear what they are comfortable with, what has worked well, what they may be hesitant and nervous about, and find the right happy medium in which we could challenge them to evolve, challenge them to grow. But also, we don't want to institute a design solution that then will never be used, and they find some way to bypass it and change things after the fact. So, I would say that that tends to be my leading question is really what's working well for you. Let's celebrate that first, and then let's get our hands into what we may need to improve.

    Brandon: I think one of the things that sometime is overlooked is what are the potentials for the future and how can we accommodate the change for the future. I mean we think about these facilities, they don't. It's not like they're renovated every five or ten years. So really looking forward to how can we accommodate growth or any other reconfigurations that the lighting system can still support that as the facility changes and adapts for future needs.

    Carrie: I'm curious how sustainability initiatives play a role in that thought process.

    Michael: Most people at this point, I think would agree and are well aware of what LED technology has really done to to our profession, really revolutionizing how we can approach things. The envelope and width they're developed and from a sustainability standpoint, the energy consumption that they really have. So, I think for us it is trying to look holistically at the overall sustainability picture. just because you're using LED technology doesn't inherently mean that you're doing it the right way. So, we're looking at the full story of a lighting product and a lighting system. Where is this product coming from? If and when there are failures? Because again, we will continue to try to break the myth that LED lights last forever. That is not true. To all of our maintenance staff that's out there: You will still have a job right. There's things that inherently will go wrong. It's electric circuitry. Electronic circuitry. So, there's things that will happen and so we need to and we have moved out of the aspect of if there's a failure that entire lighting fixture. Throw it away. Put a new one in, right? We're looking at opportunities for modularity in which failing components can be removed and recycled. New components can then be brought in. So, it's really thinking about that big picture to it all. And I would say more so again, a lot of this is driven by energy codes, which I know a lot of our team members are heavily involved with because we believe so strongly in them. And it really comes to lighting controls. The most efficient light source is one that you don't have on, and so it talks to the big picture. Like we've said, of incorporation of natural light into a space. But also the appropriate control so that if you've got that natural light, that electric lighting sometimes is turned off, sometimes remains on at a very small level, and then when the building or the space is just not being used at all, let's shut it down. Let's try to reduce that consumption overall. And that's, you know, specific to this market sector and aviation as well as so many others that we operate in is really handling the control perspective of it all.

    Carrie: What are some of the questions that you're asking when you're on a project that might bring about some challenges or what are the common challenges that you're trying to uncover or overcome in the process of designing lighting for a facility.

    Michael: Comfort and glare, whether it be from direct sunlight or from electric lighting that both can institute uncomfortable glare. You brought up Carrie earlier the fact of lighting in a restroom often times one of the approaches is we want to bring vertical light to people's faces, and oftentimes that will be at the mirror itself. If that's not done correctly it can be very uncomfortable. One success story that I have goes. Back to the day lighting integration side of things and our work that our team did on the Portland Airport Concourse E expansion that completed just a few years ago through our daylight and sunlight penetration studies, we identified that there was a lot of direct sunlight coming through the facade and it wasn't directly hitting the gate agents, but the reflection off of the polished terrazzo floor was. And evaluating and identifying that early in the design process allowed us the opportunity to show what was happening to the design architect, interior designer as well as share with the port and brainstorm on. OK what? What does that mean? Do we change something at the facade? Do we change something at the floor? Do we try to move the gate podium and there's no one simple answer. But with an engaged partnership of team members, there is always a solution.

    Brandon: My biggest challenge that I think I continually see is just outdated lighting standards from some of these facilities and really trying to understand the why behind some of the standards and educating those clients and trying to bring them up to speed and seeing if there's sort of any flexibility or moving things into the current so that we can really provide the best experience for their facility.

    Max: So Michael, the story that you shared about Portland really speaks to the importance of having a seat at the table with the other architects, with the other designers, because in that instance, where there was reflection of the glare off the terrazzo, the solution was not with the lighting itself, but the solution is with the other materials in the building and that type of solution could only be pursued with input from both of those folks were involved in the construction of the facility, so thank you to both of you to joining us on the Hold Room podcast today. We really enjoyed talking to you and hearing a bit about what HLB is doing in the industry.

    Michael: On behalf of myself and Brandon, I really just wanted to say thank you for you all for, for having us, letting us speak so passionately about lighting design and how it fits into the aviation world.

    Brandon: Yeah, thank you, Carrie and Max. It's great to have this conversation today and really bring things to light. No pun intended.



    Wendy: Thanks for joining us in The Hold Room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. You can find more from this series on the ACC Training Hub—that’s—or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. Follow us for more content from the Airport Consultants Council. You can support this podcast by leaving a rating or review and by telling your friends and colleagues about the podcast. Thanks again.

  • Season 2, Episode 21: Paul Martin

    Today in the Hold Room Laura and Carrie talk with Director of Transit at Dimensional Innovations Paul Martin. Dimensional Innovations specializes in creating immersive experiences and tackling facility specific problems. Laura and Carrie dive deep on the simulation flight Dimensional Innovations provides for MCI – Kansas City International Airport to accommodate first time passengers and those who have a fear of flying. Please join us to learn more about simulations and experiences that provide “Positive Distractions” for passengers. 

    TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council.

    Laura Canham: This episode is part of the Passenger Experience series hosted by ACC’s Terminal and Facilities Committee. In this series, we are collecting the experiences and perspectives about the future of passenger travel, including changing demographics (such as the U.S. population aging and becoming more multi-cultural), new technologies, labor, and supply chain shortages, and what the future may have in store. Thank you for joining us in the Hold Room!

    [Intro Music End]

    Carrie: Thanks for joining us back again in The Hold Room. We're really excited to have with us today Paul Martin. Paul is with Dimensional Innovations, and, Paul, we would really like for you to just start off this interview by introducing yourself.

    Paul: Thanks for having me. We're really excited to take part in this broader discussion. We're [Dimensional Innovations (or DI)] a 30-year-old firm, very well established in many other markets. Aviation is actually something of a recent focus for us [DI]. My name is Paul Martin and I am the Director of Transit. The Transit Practice within Dimensional Innovations. Traditionally, that has meant more like bus shelters, kind of a land-based transit. DI as a company, our mission, as we say, it's to liberate people from mediocre experiences. Our main focus has been professional sports, but everything’s about an experience, right? So, if you're going to an arena or stadium, you know, maybe we've [DI] done the Hall of Fame or the fan experience. For corporations, it might be a welcome center, where we're telling your [the corporation’s] story. We [DI] do a lot of work in the cultural space. When we look at the aviation space, it's very much a natural fit. We [DI] have been making a concerted effort over the last year. It really helps that here in Kansas City we have a brand-new terminal, single terminal, that is just absolutely fantastic. So, we have quite a bit of work in that and that was kind of a springboard to get us [DI] interested in this [aviation] as a market.

    Laura: Let's dive a little bit deeper into something. Can you discuss a challenge or solution relating to aviation related topics or passenger experience?

    Paul: Sure, and for us [DI], it is all about that experience, and MCI (Kansas City International Airport) is the perfect example. Personally, I'm sure some of your listeners had to go through Kansas City or may be based here. You know, we went through Kansas City you've got this new airport that SOM designed, just brilliant, and DI was really fortunate to play a pretty significant role in this passenger experience, and it takes a lot of different forms. Right from the start, you enter into the single terminal. At the ticket counter, it's very standard, you've got the big LED wall behind you, that [the LED wall] was one of our [DI’s] scopes. And you know, in the background, what's happening in terms of managing the graphics, the content we have developed, our [DI’s] own content management system that was really developed working directly with the airport.  I was touring it [MCI Airport] with Justin Myers Deputy Director out there. At one point he just pulled it [graphic controls] up on his phone and said, “Hey, watch this!” – and he could change the background, the content, because we [DI] had built that application up for him including working with the various airlines on the content itself. Really, it's all about future capabilities, flexibility, you know, we've got about 300 feet of screen back there, and we [DI] built in the capability to do a complete takeover, do animations, anything they may want to do in the future, making sure that the back end can handle that. That's [interactive graphic displays] largely invisible to the customer. It just looks nice. Working with the architect and the design team. If you're going between concourses, worked with The City [Kansas City] and the Airport Authority on some storytelling. They [the Airport Authority] knew when they created this new facility that they wanted to retain some history, tell the story of aviation in Kansas City. Built out a series of kiosks that have information boards and then also embedded video, you know, so the whole experience is about “Through the Ages,” what aviation has meant to Kansas City. There was a big push to bring out local flavor. Sot, just these little hidden gems kind of sprinkled throughout that give a better experience to the customers.

    Laura: Oh, that's neat. I remember going through Kansas City, but I have a vague recollection of leaving security to go meet with somebody and then having to go back to security to get in. Is it like a long, elongated terminal, I think, right?

    Paul:  Well, the old one, yeah, it was a horseshoe. There were three different terminals, and it was designed in the in the early 70s. There was circle parking. The whole idea was you could drive your car and park and in 5 minutes be at your gate. And it [the old design] did work that way Pre-9/11, but once you throw security into it, it's completely dispersed. So, you have so many gates there's no central location where you can handle that [security]. Physically, as a facility, it could not accommodate that.

    Laura: So how did you accommodate them? It sounds like a big challenge as part of the project. How were you working through that?

    Paul: We built a completely new terminal, so we demolished it.

    Laura: Nice.

    Paul: It was the only solution, honestly. So, from an architecture perspective, the old terminal was completely unworkable. There was a renovation, probably 12, maybe 15 years ago, doing work in the concourses, upgrading some facilities a bit with some better finishes in a way. In fact, some of the terrazzo floor that was put into the old terminal during the renovation was salvaged and used into the new one [new terminal]. It was a really nice touch.

    Laura: That's awesome. So as part of this project, I'm sure one of our [ACC, The Hold Room] key initiatives is talking more about diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA), and so, I was curious how that played into the design of the new terminal and what kind of things that you implemented or thought of and incorporated as part of this?

    Paul: Absolutely central, there was a mandate established by the city [Kansas City] that said we will be the most inclusive airport in the country, if not the world. So, right from the start, this was established before there was a design. So, everything on the design side was meant to cater to that. In terms of our [DI’s] involvement, we [DI] were really fortunate there was a thought about, “OK, how do you accommodate passengers that have anxiety about flying, first time flyers, maybe, people with dementia, or on the spectrum, anybody that, you know, has this anxiety or fear [of flying]. The thought was to create a simulation room, you know, really simulate the entire experience. And that [simulation experience] starts with getting a ticket, boarding a plane, going through a simulated flight. So, this [simulation project] is a really exciting opportunity for us [DI], because that's very much what we do and we can infuse technology and it is truly about the experience. This is super fun working directly with the Airport Authority. You know, there are a lot of constraints obviously, just physically, what does this mean, in terms of what are you physically putting into the space. So, this is, if on the secure side of the terminal, it's something [the simulation experience] that you have to reserve just as a general public passenger. You can't just walk into this [the simulation]. It's very targeted to specific audiences. There's specific outreach for that. The way that we went about it is that “OK, we want to literally be having, you know, have the have the most literal experience you can.” That meant actually purchasing a chunk of a Fuselage Airbus A321. So, in our [DI’s] shop, we have that chunk of the plane, proceeded to do the entire build out. As an experience, you would make a reservation [for the simulation]. Somebody from the airport will greet you in the security line, walk you through security, go into this specific simulation room. We took an actual ticket kiosk. You punch in your code, and it- [the kiosk] spits out physical ticket. You then go to a scanner on the wall, scan your ticket, it shows your name, and get a green light and the door opens and you walk through. In reality, it's [simulation jet bridge] just a hallway, but with graphics, we have simulated that passage through the jet bridge to where you are boarding on the jet. Something that we identified, and I will say this, you know, there's a lot of research that goes into this, not just working with Airport Authority, but with healthcare professionals. As well in terms of thinking about what are things that can assist a situation like this. So, something was that was identified, was typically when you're taking that step onto the plane itself from the jet bridge, there's a little gap. You know, everybody sees it [the gap between the jet bride and plane], and most people don't think anything about it, but for some people, that's very problematic. So, we actually did simulate that gap. So, you're stepping onto the plane now and you are in a real plane, everything is very realistic, and then the experience starts. You know, we've got a large screen display that shows footage of actors, flight attendants going through the entire boarding procedure. There's somebody from the airport is kind of guiding this experience. You're sitting in the seat, you're buckled up. You will notice out the windows you are seeing the environment around you. We [DI] put monitors in every window, so, now we're simulating backing away from the gate. There's an audio component now we're taking off. There's a rumble that you hear. You're in the air. You're going through clouds. You see different buildings as you're going up that are the actual Kansas City landscape. Then simulating a short flight. The entire experience is about 15 minutes. You go through a landing again, more flight attendant instruction. Very real experience. And it's [the flight simulator] just been overwhelmingly positively received. There's really nothing quite like it [the flight simulator].

    Laura: That's incredible. Yeah, and I was impressed by the bold statement, you know, the goal to make this airport the most accessible in the country, or maybe even in the world, were there any specific criteria that had to be met? How do you measure that as You're going through the project?

    Paul: That’s a great question. Yeah, personally, I'm not sure, you know, because we just played various roles within this, so at a higher level, that's an interesting question. Justin Myers was an incredible person up there [at MCI Airport] and he was a big driver of this, but like I said, it was mandated essentially from the city [Kansas City], so permeated through all of the design, you know, when you walk through there [the new terminal], you really feel it, you know, the bathrooms, just the openness, the art component is extraordinary, you know, there was a percent for art program that came into play. All of this plays into a very open welcoming vibe.

    Laura: Very nice.


    Carrie: What I think is intriguing to me is that there is a required need for health professionals to look at the experience and how you're creating it. I would be interested in learning, like, what types of considerations they're putting forth for this research.

    Paul: Yeah, this is really interesting, and we [DI] have done a lot of work in the healthcare industry, and what we're finding is this [healthcare design] correlates really well. When you think about it, it’s kind of the same problem, right? You go to a hospital, you're in a waiting room, there's anxiety, there's boredom. It's no different as typical airport experience. So, we're [DI] really excited to be able to offer the whole suite of applications that we've built. These are all digital applications that were developed for healthcare and developed around solving this issue of anxiety and boredom. One of them is, in the waiting room. This was in a Children's Hospital facility in Cleveland, where we built a video wall, and we programmed it. We actually took our inspiration from the hospital's art collection. They had a specific artist that we ended up working with and using his color palette to create this huge color field. That you could manipulate through gestures. You can imagine you step up to this big wall and there's, you know, you're able to swirl colors with their hands. And this was a case where we did work with some of the healthcare professionals on this idea of calming. The way that we approached it was we could actually tune the sensors that are capturing your gesture to react best the slower that you move, right? So, you could imagine if you walked up to this and you're totally frantic waving your arms, it's actually not reacting to you. So just through biofeedback, you learn to slow your movements down, and slowing your movements, you're slowing your heart rate it has a calming effect and you don't even know it. It's also one of those things that, because it was a waiting room application, we didn't want to make it gamified to where you felt like you were missing out on something if you had to walk away. We've done other applications where we wanted it to be totally immersive. We did a Children's Transfusion Center, you can imagine this is a facility where, on a monthly basis, kids are going in, having a needle stuck in their arm for a couple hours, you know, really grim experience, so in that case, we wanted to build something completely immersive and that was achieved by again through a gaming engine developing an entire environment. This [gaming environment] is reflected on a whole series of screens. There is a game that you play. So, on your phone it's a specific application that we've built. You scan a QR code, it pops up, you have a character that you can embellish, you know. So, you choose a character, you give it certain attributes, colors, different things, you give it a name, like, that is your character. You have authorship in it. The character gets popped down into this environment that we've created along with all the other characters of all the other kids in the room, and there's some interplay between them [the characters]. We [DI] always like to mix the physical and the digital. We built a physical tree structure in the middle of this facility that is imbedded in LED's and that’s part of the gameplay, so you know, really like taking these kids out of their environment in this case. So, these are things that we have been talking to a lot of the airports about, and getting really positive receptions, what we call “positive distractions.”

    Carrie: That's very cool. Using positive distractions for that environment of like a Children's Hospital, and in airports, what we're seeing is a lot of the aging population is now beginning to retire, they're traveling. I am curious if you have strategies for that type of demographic?

    Paul: I think it's the same issue at the end of the day, in terms of, you know, capturing people's attention. What we're [DI] trying to achieve in a lot of these applications is like I said, distraction, right. So, we're not, we're not trying to correct the medical condition, but just taking people’s minds away that applies across ages.

    Laura: I'm curious, so, from your experience with this and the other experiences that you've involved in over and over. Do you have any recommendations or anything that you think should become a standard practice for aviation to be able to help facilitate change in the industry?

    Paul: You have to establish that at the very beginning, stating upfront that has to be fully inclusive. As a fabricator and designer, and on our end, it's having that that attitude and knowledge upfront and how to apply that, but then it has to be enforced on authority side as well.

    Carrie: Right, for this example with Kansas City, are you seeing interest in other facilities exploring this type of technology?

    Paul: Absolutely. It has really resonated. Authorities [Airport Authorities] are understanding the need, you know, you have to administer it. It’s a real commitment on the authority side, but having said that, everybody loves it. Airport planning is years and years out, so it takes a while for these things to come to fruition, but we've seen a lot of interest.

    Carrie: Totally, that makes sense.

    Laura: What are you looking forward to now?

    Paul: That's a good question. We are always responding to clients’ needs. We're not coming into the market saying “Hey, look at what the DI’s come up with!” You know, like everything that we [DI] do is a response to, you know, typically a design problem. For airports, these are big problems. It's a common problem and you know support and anxiety things like this. So, for DI it's always going to be centered on the experience. We're always looking for ways that we can implement something to better that experience. This is where we like to work directly with the design teams. We are involved early on in their design process. We are usually consulting. Working with the physical space, what are things that we can implement to get passengers a better experience.

    Laura: Awesome!

    Carrie: Very cool.

    Laura: Well, Paul, thank you very much for joining us. Today in the hold room.

    Paul: Thank you.

    [Outro Music]

    Wendy: Thanks for joining us in the hold room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. You can find more from this series on the ACC training hub that's, or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc. Follow us for more content from the Airport Consultants Council. You can support this podcast by leaving a rating or review and by telling your friends and colleagues about the podcast. Thanks again.

    [Outro Music Fade Out]



  • Season 2 Episode 20: Live Interviews from AAAE Annual Conference

    Hello from the American Association of Airport Executives conference in Denver, Colorado. Janelle Aslam conducted live interviews at the conference in June 2023 and we are excited to hear from Tommy Bibb, Aviation Consultant and prior AVP Operations and Maintenance at Nashville Airport Authority; Marco Toscano, Director of Customer Experience at Denver International Airport; and Joseph Kennedy, Business Development Manager at Smiths Detection.

    The Hold Room, Season 2 Episode 20 – Tommy Bibb, Marco Toscano, and Joseph Kenney



    TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council.

    Laura Canham: Hello from the American Association of Airport Executives conference in Denver, Colorado. Janelle Aslam conducted live interviews at the conference in June 2023 and we are excited to hear from Tommy Bibb, Aviation Consultant and prior AVP Operations and Maintenance at Nashville Airport Authority; Marco Toscano, Director of Customer Experience at Denver International Airport; and Joseph Kennedy, Business Development Manager at Smiths Detection.



    Janelle Aslam: Hi Tom. So nice to have you here on The Hold Room podcast. You are an industry veteran. I'd love to know about your background 1st and then also your perspective on customer experience and what we can do to improve it.

    Tommy (Tom) Bibb: Thanks, Janelle. It's a pleasure to be with you. Background, I spent just over 32 years with the airport in Nashville. And had a variety of departments and functions under my purview over that time. Operations and maintenance certainly were a big part of that 22 of those 32 years. But passenger experience is critical. You know, we were an airport in active growth mode and you're an airport first, a construction site 2nd and maintaining that positive experience is critical. We had a lot of opportunities to work on that both in the building, in front of the building, and the behind the building and by that I mean terminal, landside, and airside. So we tried to work on that every day actually.

    Janelle: That’s great. Can you tell me about one of the examples you think is really like best in class in terms of something you implemented to improve passenger experience?

    Tom: Yeah, I'll take a what's probably an easy one. And that's restroom modernization of restrooms, making them more comfortable and more bright. Easy in and out, not congested. Trying to get in and out of the facilities, just bringing up refresh with new fixtures, more modern three in one sinks with soap, water drying capabilities. But restrooms are a big factor in the passenger experience. Restrooms and parking will get you in trouble quickly. We put a lot of emphasis on restrooms, parking accessibility, walking distance and things like that, but those are a couple of easy examples on the things that we focused on to try to not only maintain but greatly improve the passenger experience.

    Janelle: Great. So how did you actually listen to your customers? How did you gather feedback from them to make sure that you were moving the needle and improving that experience for them?

    Tom: Like most airports, you know, do surveys and things like that. But we paid really close attention to our website and comments that came in and we kind of had a policy: three business days to get a response unless it was something really significant. And then you still get a response and. Follow up with a more detailed answer if that's what was called for. But got a lot of feedback that way. Being in the capital and a lot of state legislature there, we got a lot of feedback from the community and just through informal channels we always took that stuff very seriously and took it to heart and tried to take it and use it and, and make things better.

    Janelle: Excellent. Can you talk to me a little bit about diversity, equity, and inclusion and how that implemented into your past experience?

    Tom: The airport should reflect the community that it resides in. Everybody has a little bit different opinion of what the positive passenger experience should be. So, we did a lot of work outreach with various organizations and things of that nature to understand what various groups to make sure that those needs were being met and one that I'm particularly proud of, maybe more than anything in my entire career there, was/fell into the world of ADA with adult changing tables in some of our family restrooms because it opens up the door for so many more people to travel. That prior to that air travel would have been off the table simply not an option. And it was so well received when we did that on the personal level that was something I felt really, really good about.

    Janelle: Nice. That's awesome. How did you communicate these change efforts to?

    Tom: You know, a lot of outreach on social media. We had a staff that took care of that for us and pushed those messages out. We actually had a lighting system on one of our new garages and we could do the lights to reflect certain things. Maybe if it was the Heart Association week or breast Cancer week or whatever it happened to be. But we use social media a lot and we use some of the amenities we had built into our new facilities to help push those messages. We did some sign language. At times we have live music in building and we would have somebody come and sign the words along with the music. And that was kind of neat because that really improve that experience for people that had that impairment.

    Janelle: That's great.

    Tom: So, we tried social media. A lot of things, just some of the in-house amenities that we have we could take advantage of it.

    Janelle: Guys, what about employment? Did you do anything from a DEI element to make sure that your employment also modeled the residential structure?

    Tom: Yeah, we did a good job. Basically, it's kind of started with the leadership team to make sure the leadership team again reflected the community and being sensitive to how we approached different groups and create opportunities for success not only for the person but for the organization as well. And I can see that although I've retired from the airport. You can see that throughout the organization it's a very diverse leadership team and then all the way through the organization as a whole.

    Janelle: So, as we end this interview and I'm really appreciative of all of your insights here, but I would love to know as you look to the future, what are you most excited about in terms of the new developments to really improve customer experience?

    Tom: Some of the things I think are really moving the needle on passenger experience are better concessions and things of that nature. Gate delivery on concessions at some of the larger airports because we tend to get through security and we go from point A to point B, we get to our gate and a lot of times we walk by things because we just want to get where we know we need to be. But good concessions and having the concessions reflect national options as well as local music and entertainment in the buildings. You see that a lot now. That was all over our facility and you see it in many places. I think there's just a lot more awareness. People are in the terminal longer now than they used to be good. Good parking facilities where there's walking distances or short transportation. There's a number of things, I think airports, are doing a lot better. You know it's kind of a drop off to take off mentality. Parking all the way to your gate and making that experience everything it can be all the way through.

    Janelle: Excellent. Well, Tom, I look forward to hearing more insights from you in the future. Thank you so much for your time.

    Tom: Well, you're welcome. Thank you.

    Janelle: Marco, I am so happy that you're here to talk with us at the Hold Room. So, tell me a little bit about what you do at Denver.

    Marco Toscano: Thank you for having me. Yeah. I’m the director of customer experience. So, within my realm of responsibilities are voice of the customer, customer research data, customer metrics, documentation, as well as looking over the customer journey map and how our customers interact with our report and their entire journey from Pena Blvd. all the way over to their flight. And what does that mean of them? Trying to create a good experience for them as they go through the process.

    Janelle: Wow, that's amazing. So how often do you actually connect with your passengers to really get the voice of what they're looking for from an experience standpoint?

    Marco: We capture customer voice through several different ways. We actually provide all social media comments about the airport. All of that is filtered and aggregated through our customer relations center. So, every comment, every post is categorized by subject matter, whether it's an inquiry complement, complaint, and then we actually categorize that further by the subject of what the customer was talking about. And then we capture verbatim as well, but then that gets put into a system where we can analyze the data at the end of the day and look at what are the top complaints for the day, for the week, for the month. How can we make those better? How can we do for identifying trends that we're seeing based off of customer voice you can try to get ahead of those in the future.

    Not only social media, we also have a call center. The same thing happens if you were to call in. Or chat with us through our website. As well as we have surveys, we partner with ACI and AAAE to the RSQ survey. So, we have several different ways to try to capture what customers are experiencing.

    Janelle: That's great. And what do you see in terms of the latest trends of what your passengers are asking you for?

    Marco: We're seeing a trend that has certainly started in COVID, but it's one of the trends was customers arriving to the airport two or three hours before their flight and it's not really something we really saw before proving. And now that trend is continue. So, it shifts priorities of our customers knowing that we're going to be spending that much time. So now they are looking for food and beverage options and looking for more comfortable seating options, looking for charging stations, fast Wi-Fi, things that were all still important prior to COVID, but have become so much more important now that customers are literally spending two hours in your airport. Waiting for their flight no longer is it just 30 minutes to get through. Now it's actually spending a lot of time in the airport and you're looking for options to do other than just sitting in a restaurant for two.

    Janelle: That makes sense. So, in terms of like the amount of time that you spent there at Denver and really instituting some of these amazing passenger experiences, what do you think is really one of your best case studies or best practices, if you will, in terms of how you've coordinated with a lot of different players to institute the passenger experience?

    Marco: We just launched a new program in January. And it's a team of individuals called our airport customer experience specialist we call our aces. Four individuals who. Spend their entire shift walking the path of customers. They're not in an office. They don't even have a computer. We give them an iPad and a cell phone and literally their entire shift on our premises and the benefit of that is we no longer have to wait for customers to report things like down conveyances or a charging bank that's no longer working. Our Aces are out there the entire day, where they're from 6:00 AM to 11:00 at night every single day. And they're looking at the airport for things. So, hopefully they're the 1st to spot a downed conveyance. Or if they walk by a gate area and they notice that the blue lights under the seats indicate there's power to those seats is not on, they'll either do first resolution or they'll put in a work order to try to get this fixed right away. They're inspecting our restrooms if we're out of hand towels, they'll put in a ticket to get that resolved. If there's a spill, oftentimes they just clean it up themselves because we're really stressing that first resolution instead of putting in a ticket for a spill, let's say. Instead putting in a ticket, waiting for a janitor to come out, and clean it up. It could be 30 minutes. If you just think about how that can be done, no impact to the customer can move on with our day. So that is a tremendous amount of coordination with back end to actually make that work and make it valuable. So, it's a new ticketing technology ticketing system we just implemented, working with our stakeholders and maintenance and janitorial to make sure that we've got those right votes of people, so we can have quick resolutions and so far we've already seen great metrics for customers showing that the program is working and it's, you know, six months in.

    Janelle: Wow, that's awesome. I really love that example of the aces and I hope I can see that at more airports as well.

    Marco: Yeah, yeah, it's, I know a couple of airports have started similar programs and it's been paying off for our customers already. So, it's great, great impact.

    Janelle: Nice, that's awesome. So let me ask you about DEI. How do you view that passenger experience perspective and what type of programs are you implementing to help?

    Marco: One of the things that we're doing is a lot of airports talk about their journey mapping. And so we're looking at a journey mapping from different customer personas, including individuals who may have different needs than others. And so how does the journey map affect these individuals differently than with the status quos and really eliminating what what the concept of status quo is. So individuals will have different needs as they go through the airport and then we know that we can look at our passenger experience through their eyes, the better we can start to get some change at the airport. And that's really one of our first steps is we we have our passenger training map that we've had for years. We keep refreshing it, but we've never shifted it and looked at it from a different perspective and that's what we’re doing.

    Janelle: That's great, Marco, this has been super insightful and I really appreciate your time.

    Marco: Thanks for having me.

    Janelle: Thank you so much.

    Janelle: Joe, hi. So, tell me a little bit about what you do with your job.

    Joseph (Joe) Kennedy: Sure. Yes, and thanks for having me. I work with Smiths Detection. Our main focus in aviation is with the checkpoint security and with full baggage systems, so scanners to screen bags for passengers going to the airport. I'm in business development, so I'm building strategies around how we approach airports, getting feedback, and how we can advance our technology to enhance the passenger experience and then trying to tie that all together with our sales and technical teams.

    Janelle: So, when you look at the overall posture experience across airports within the US, what do you see really in terms of the key trends from really improving passenger experience?

    Joe: So, for what we focus on talk a lot about security, because focus on the checkpoint security, which is obviously it's a big part of the passenger experience, right. It's usually the most stressful part with the passengers going into the airport. You have to go through the checkpoint and set time aside for it. You have to make sure you don't have any prohibited things in your bag, you know, to bring in. So, what the new technology allows both ours and other X-ray scanners is CT technology. So, when you go into a lane and you have to take your laptop out of the bag anymore. You're going through the CT scanner so the obvious improvement to passenger experience for that is it's not as much of a hassle. When you get to the checkpoint, you don't have to take your laptop out, you know, take your liquids out, put everything in one tray. It's just easier for the passenger, it makes it less stressful. You don't take as long in the front end or in the back. The kind of more technical improvement to pass your experience that that allows that, I think, the passenger maybe not be paying as much attention to is, you’re using Less bins for each person, right? So every person is using one bin for all their stuff. That's less images for TSA to look at. That is less actual items moving through the X-ray, so the entire checkpoint speeds up. So, the goal is getting through faster, not sacrificing safety so the technology’s improved so that the TSA agents have all the information they need to. While passengers don't feel as hassled whether going through the checkpoints, so everything is faster, it's more efficient. The noise at the checkpoint is quieter and ideally it makes everything less stressful for the passenger while TSA is still, you know, maintaining the level of security relief.

    Janelle: So, can you talk to me about diversity, equity and inclusion and how do you actually implement that into how you think about the passenger experience?

    Joe: We have a strong focus on diversity, equity, inclusion training and in the actual employees that we hire and bring in to work in airports and get broad viewpoints and diverse viewpoints on what people pay attention to, what people care about when they're traveling. And then what we need to be considering is a very diverse group of people that travel. Right, you have to be thinking about every kind of passenger that is going through the checkpoint. What are certain people going to be dealing with? What are certain people going to be hearing about? What do people want to see from a very diverse perspective? Right? So, we have to consider all the passengers that could potentially go through an airport and be thinking about what's important to that group, where do they struggle with? And, what do we need to be paying attention to when we are working on advancing our technology.

    As far as what we see in the future. What we're rolling out right now is probably what you'll see in the checkpoint for the next 10 years, I would say. I think there's a lot of advancements being made in identification rate, the facial identification when going through the checkpoint. Advancements in how you're actually getting your boarding pass. How security is being set up on the front end. We're working with a lot of companies here that do queueing so that you can actually see how many checkpoints need to be open at certain times of day and how many people are in line. And do we need to ship people over there? There's a lot of stuff that ties into the checkpoint based on different kinds of AI and all the different companies that are in the checkpoint that you can start tying this data together to really just continue speeding up the throughput, continue improving experience. So just a lot of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and how to improve technology efficiency.

    Janelle: Excellent. Joe, thank you so much for your. Time here at the Hold Room.

    Joe: Thanks for having me.



    Wendy Hageman: Thanks for joining us in The Hold Room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. You can find more from this series on the ACC Training Hub—that’s—or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. Follow us for more content from the Airport Consultants Council. You can support this podcast by leaving a rating or review and by telling your friends and colleagues about the podcast. Thanks again.

  • Season 2 Episode 19: 2024 Symposium Planning

    What does a Chair/Vice Chair for the 2024 Symposium do? Come and find out from Carrie Shaeffer, Chris Spaulding, and Asia Johnson. In addition to the logistics behind how a conference is organized, learn more about the two plenary sessions of the 2024 Symposium including Artificial Intelligence and Vertical Takeoff and Landing at airports and how they relate to two upcoming Olympics!

    The Hold Room, Season 2 Episode 19 – Carrie Shaeffer, Chris Spaulding, and Asia Johnson



    TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council.

    Laura Canham: This episode is part of the passenger experience headers hosted by ACC's Terminal and Facilities Committee in this series. We are collecting the experiences and perspectives about the future of passenger travel, including changing demographics such as the U.S. population, aging and becoming more multicultural, new technologies, labor, and supply chain. Shortages and what the future may have in store. Thank you for joining us in the Hold Room.



    Carrie Wojcik: Well, thank you everyone for joining us again in the Hold Room. I'm Carrie,

    Mike Ambrosio: Hi, I'm Mike.

    Carrie W: And we are joined by different individuals from ACC who will be involved with hosting the plenary sessions. So, I have Carrie Shaeffer from Swinnerton, Chris Spaulding from Jacobson Daniels as well as Asia Johnson from Jacobsen Daniel. So, thank you so much for joining us today. If each of you could just quickly say your name, your role, and introduce yourself so our listeners know who you are.

    Carrie Shaeffer: Yeah, hi. Thanks for having us. I'm Carrie Shaeffer with Swinnerton and I am chairing the planning committee for the upcoming Symposium. Super excited to be with you all today.

    Chris Spaulding: My name is Chris Spaulding as Carrie mentioned. Thank you for having me as well. I serve as the vice chair for the Symposium Planning Committee and work as a senior consultant for Jacobsen Daniels based in Chicago. Go Cubs.

    Asia Johnson: I'm Asia, I'm with Jacobsen Daniels and I am supporting Chris in his role as Vice chair, and so I'm the vice chair YP.

    Carrie W: Awesome. Thanks everyone.

    Mike: If you don't mind. Could you kind of tell us a little bit more about what your sessions are about and what you're excited about them?

    Carrie S: Yeah, I'd be glad to start with that. Thanks, Mike. This is Carrie Shaeffer again. So, as the kind of the chair and vice chair, one of the biggest roles and exciting roles of helping the planning committee bring the Symposium together is that we had a bringing together the plenary sessions for day one and day two. So, the one that I am pulling together right now, it’s pretty cool. It was inspired by one of the submissions of the 230 submissions we got for topics for the upcoming Symposium and we are looking at some applications of the for the Paris Olympics and then looking forward visioning for the LAX Olympics at 2028. We're to hear from both of those planning groups on some emerging technologies that they are using and for managing the incredibly complex logistics of all of those people: Athletes, judges here and people coming to watch and VIP's and just multiple airports in the area and then multiple venues. So, I'm really excited to hear from both of those and compare and contrast what the, what they're thinking about, how they going to solve those big puzzles.

    Mike: Yeah, very interesting. You know, it's something that you don't necessarily think about and think of the Olympics and it's just cool to see how our industry is starting to tackle those challenges.

    Carrie S: Absolutely. It was inspired by the group that is, they're going to do certain pilot program of using VTOL in the Paris area to solve some of their logistics issues, so I'm looking forward to it.

    Chris: Yeah, being part of the LAX land program, a lot of that was a part of preparing for the Olympics. So right now, you know, having that underway with the APM fully developed and operational, what are the next steps are they, are they going to take from like a technology standpoint. So, this will be a very synergetic conversation to see different viewpoints on how the attack this problem and look at opportunities to invest in aviation for these world events. Yeah. And so we have another plenary session and I think on a similar plane we want to drive in the topic of innovation into the program, especially on the big stage. And so, one of the topics was the topic of AI and I think that's something we are all talking about outside of aviation as well. Been around us for maybe the last five years, but I think particularly we've seen the ball rolling a lot. I'll plug for the innovation tracks session. They're going to be focusing on a topic of AI and how it's gonna impact design and construction and how we perform and deliver a product or help plan airports, you know, for our clients. So, for the plenary, we wanted to take it to another level and focus on the high encompassing view of AI. And it's exciting to think about, like, how it's going to impact operations at airports, particularly for passenger experience. So how is AI going to impact the passenger when they leave their house all the way to when they go through the check-in process and get to the gate though a lot of us are hearing conversations about it at other events and I think Symposium we want to bring it to the table at a kind of a one-on-one perspective because a lot of us still need to learn what is going to happen, what are the policies that are going to be shaped to help make this a feasible tool for all of us to use at the airports. How is that going to be implemented in biometrics and whatnot? So, looking at it from the policy standpoint, rule making, but also from the operations perspective and want to be able to bring a consultant on board as well to talk about what the future might look like with that. Because I think at the end of the day, it's going to be inevitable. Kind of like the advent of the Internet. People are always a little skeptical about new technologies, and I think the symposium is always a great forum to continue talking about it and build on top of what can we do to make sure we're staying on top of the trends that are going on right now.

    Carrie S: I agree Chris. It can be such a broad topic and also such a molecular level topic that I'm looking forward to what you all are going to hone in on and, like you said, for the passenger experience and really affects our industry. And then I also appreciate how the bigger plenary session is going to feed into some very specific, even more technical sessions in the tracks.

    Chris: Yeah, I would say that is our theme this year there. There's always kind of a central theme at the Symposium every year. You know some years we focus a little bit more on diversity and inclusion and we certainly do have some sessions that touch on that topic. But also you know sustainability and how are we going green at airports. But I've seen technology and innovation to rise to the top. In fact, this year is the first year we have our own standalone innovation track. We used to have mini tracks in the past symposiums, so I think that's going to be something we'll see continue moving forward because that is such a large component of what we discuss and. What we like to collaborate about at this conference with each other. So that's an exciting change for the Symposium program for 2024 event.

    But overall I, I'd say, you know, attendees come to this conference for the technical program. So I like going to this event just because you get to meet such a vast array of diverse people. Within aviation, consulting from architects to planners to construction managers, and you get to pick your own journey with these concurrent sessions, but also network with people who just have such a different take on what they do in the industry, which I find always really fascinating about why I chose to get an aviation right because there's so much more to aviation than just being an airport operations or being a pilot, even though those are really great careers. You know, consulting is such a great way to really innovate and change within those environments. It's also one of those events that's really fun almost to the point where like, it's exhausting [laughter]. Always something going on. You know it's a three-day event, but ACC and AAAE do such a great job of enabling companies to put together receptions and host things outside of the program as well. So this upcoming years event is located in Salt Lake City.

    Carrie W: A lot of nice views, right?

    Chris: A lot of great mountains, yeah.

    Mike: Close to skiing before and after.

    Carrie W: And probably a very new airport terminal. Yeah. Salt Lake City had a lot of work done.

    Carrie S: Yes, they've been turning over pieces in the last couple of years. It's a great airport. So, I'm I'm sure that Salt Lake City is really proud to be hosting and to have all of us all those many points of view that Chris was talking about from our industry coming straight into their airport kind of get inspiration to kick.

    Carrie W: So of our group, you're representing the YP's, so I'm curious from your perspective as a young professional, what are you excited for these sessions and what are you looking to learn as well?

    Asia: The session in particularly the one I've been helping with Chris, develop the AI session. Because AI is such a hot topic right now and it. So vast as well, I'm just looking forward to us developing it. The topic in a way that encompasses everyone's interest. I know like that's the whole point of the plenary as well, but just in a way that, you know, we all have this buzz, this, you know, the buzz of AI in the back of our heads right now, just with how involved we all are with technology. You know, even the smallest person who does who's not a technology person is still a technology person in 2023, so I'm looking forward to that part of it and just generally learning how we put these different sessions together and what goes into the planning of that and how many pieces it really is versus attending the Symposium this year for the first time and just going into the session. Experiencing it is so different to seeing all of what went into planning that session this year, so I've enjoyed that part of it so far. And yeah, I look forward to continuing to develop our session and really get every we'll continue to have everyone be excited about AI as it relates to aviation.

    Carrie W: That's great. And you said this is your first year attending Symposium?

    Asia: This will be my second year, but my first year involved I kind of had a unique perspective this year for Anaheim because I know Chris and because I know Christian who supported Chris this year. So, I kind of had like a little peek into how things would go and it was only my second conference I had attended as well, so I look forward to attending in a different capacity this year and from a place of understanding and knowing what's going on and how things are operating, while it's still enjoying a lot of the sessions and things that are happening as well.

    Chris: We've been really lucky to have you, Asia.

    Asia: Thanks. I've been happy to support both of you guys. We'll end the whole the whole Ex. Com., the whole team for sure.

    Carrie S: Asia just had a great perspective and I think it's fun to sit here and listen to because I forget that it's a different point of view for you, but you're really for the very first time, seeing how much effort it takes and how much passion there is from the planning committee and why we're so happy to do it and create as high quality of a Symposium as we can. If anybody peeked behind the door and attended one of our meetings, which always run over because everybody's always so excited and passionate with all these great ideas, it is a very rewarding effort.

    Chris: The meetings I look forward to every week, Carrie, to see all of your faces.

    Asia: For sure. And I think everyone will be able to feel the passion and with that, everyone has towards this symposium as attendees and I think we're all going to be excited as members of the Ex. Com. and track hosts and stuff like that to be there and represent. But I think that the spirit is really like it just fills you up, it's and it's really enjoyable for sure.

    Carrie S: Preparing myself for about 3 days with no sleep, just run on a drink. This event preparing myself for. The difference between being a track host and then chairing a committee and just feeling really responsible and accountable, but also so thankful for all the planning committee and really everybody who's creating sessions, it's hard to it's hard to comprehend until you get behind the scenes of how many people put so many hours over the months and months Into into the program.

    Chris: Yeah, it is. It is a testament to everyone who serves as a track host every year how much time that and effort they put into it. And even this year, there's been some, some really great topics that we've been able to select and then some challenges here and there because perhaps people aren't available or something. So, there's always things that we save to sort of tackle as a as a committee, but nothing we can't do together. And that's why since I have been a part of the planning committee back in 2017. We've always pushed forward with this track host management style, I would say, but I think only for the past five years or so, AC has been trying to push more involvement from the young professional side. So having track hosts, have a Co-trackhost as well and give exposure and experience to young professionals. And trust me when I say everyone, especially the YP's, have been putting in so much effort. I would say they would be put, they are putting more effort.

    Carrie S: It's great to have their input. Yes, it's doing some of the organizational work. It's just as much about setting the vision and direction for each of the tracks and the sessions to have that young professional point of. View in there.

    Mike: I guess we can roll on to the next question. What is your previous experience at this Symposium been like and what's the one thing that keeps you coming back year after year that you keep looking forward to and are excited for as it gets closer and closer?

    Carrie S: Sure, well so, I have attended the planning, design, and construction Symposium several times. Probably 5 or 6 times. A couple of years ago I and always, you know, my company has exhibited it. So, we have spent a lot of time in exhibit hall, but also had time to go lots of sessions and certainly enjoying hospitality events with our clients and our partners. So, it's a really multifaceted week. A couple of years ago I was the project management, construction management, track host. So that gave me a taste like Asia's talking about today that gave me. Like, oh wow, look at all the people whose shoulders were standing on that came before us and did all this work to make all those other Symposiums great. So that was really very rewarding. I also enjoyed working side by side with that my YP young professional. That was helping me as a track host. Lacey, we've continued our partnership very closely ever since then. In our careers, so the symposium for me. As I said in multifaceted, I absolutely love connecting with all of my work friends and hearing what's going on with them. One of my best practices is I always when I go to a conference, I have carefully and specifically identified two or three people that I don't know that I want to know. And the Symposium is the perfect place to use your existing network to connect with those new connections of people. So that's one very rewarding thing I get out of it and then you just always, you always, always learn something and have some fun along the way.

    Asia: Yeah, this year in Anaheim was my first Symposium and I had a great time personally followed the terminal landside track fairly closely through the sessions. If there were questions, but even after like that ability to go up to them, speak to them and just start a conversation. And as well as the network and trying to connect with people that I never met before. So, I kind of went on LinkedIn beforehand, find found a few people that I wanted to meet throughout this Symposium and did that as well as people that were on a different panel or something that I may have met or have been mentioned to me before that I wanted to meet and connect them with people that I've met at prior conferences as well. I had only been to one conference before this one, so it was really cool to see really. I hear all the time how niche the aviation community is, so to see it and make those connections to people that I met six months or a year ago was really the cool too. And then the scavenger hunt and the YP involvement. I thoroughly enjoyed that part of it. I think it was a great way for all of us to get out of our nerves and just find something else to focus on while enjoying these very technical sessions and forcing yourself to just be a little more social than normal. And having to take pictures with people you don't really know and doing all that kind of stuff. But you know, in doing that you're still meeting some really valuable people who are the targets of the scavenger hunt. So, for my first experience, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I was able to meet people like Sylvia who invited who said, you know, I would be a fit for something like this for the next Symposium. So to see it come full circle and support this time around has been really good, so I really enjoyed my first experience and I'm hoping to enjoy it again. Well, I know I'll enjoy it again in, in March in a different capacity, but yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience.

    Chris: When I first went to the Symposium. And being part of the Young Professionals program that's still alive and growing today, it really just forces you as a YP who's sort of like new to a lot of the folks that are there to network and to ask names and to do really silly things to take photos like as you was talking about. Not sure if they're gonna do this scavenger hunt again this year. But it's it is a nice way to bring your YP's who are part of your team, to not only just network, but you know, build their accreditation hours. I think that's a really big component as to why people do attend this technical conference is to fulfill their hours, whether you're like an architect or planner or an engineer. That's this is sort of the technical conference to go to. To start off, I used to work at ACC. I was a communications manager outside right out of college. I mean, I really got my feet wet into the Symposium pretty much right away. So, I was going to the Symposium when they were there was about 600 attendees and now we're shooting to have a goal of about 1,500 in Salt Lake City, so it's grown significantly and it's been amazing to see the evolution of where it was then and your war stories about what the Symposium was like even before my time, not war stories. But you know what I mean? Yeah. I think after I left ACC and was a part of Jacobsen Daniels, I was still very involved with program planning and I've been a part of the Program Planning Committee as similar to what Asia is doing as the planning track host, Young Professional. I've also been the program manager for the last couple of years, so. Coming on board this year's Vice chair is kind of a really nice and refreshing perspective and great working with Carrie.  I will say she's just been so lovely to work with. I'm really just excited about the new content. Carrie, I'm surprised you didn't mention your slogan for the 2024 event, but this, you know, I'll make it a little pitch right now. This event is gonna be robust, relevant, and forward thinking. I mean, every year we always walk away feeling like we learned something. And really try to make it that is welcoming to everyone. And so I think that is part of one of ACC strategic pillars is to promote DEI in everything that we do as ACC ambassadors. I mean essentially that's what we're doing. You can see it in the program now. We have a lot of airport participation. I would say this is probably the most amount of airports. You're seeing in the program. Heavy FAA participation. FAA knows this is one of their events that they need to attend because it is a great platform for them to share their new updates and like advisory circulars or new policies that are going to be forthcoming. So, it's just a lot of excitement that comes around the conversations and so that's something I always look forward to every year. And we'll continue to. I would say my favorite Symposium just from like a city perspective was New Orleans. I don't remember what year it was. I think it was 2017. And I always tell people this it was the week after the big Mardi Gras weekend and then it was also sandwiched in between when the Saints were going to host the Super Bowl. So, I mean that city was busted. And you had parades and it was just so much fun and everyone was just having a good time because that's what we're there to rekindle relationships and to meet new people and really expand your network. Because at the end of the day, it's not even just about our clients. It's also about our partnerships and bringing people together to make it feel like it is an inclusive community. And so that's how I like to look at this Symposium, especially as it continues to evolve.

    Carrie W: Thank you, Chris. That was great and I love some of the things that you touched on just how important it is to send different representatives from your company for learning credentials. It is a lot of fun and networking and you can run into Mardi Gras and a Super Bowl possibly. But at the end of the day, yeah, there's just so much educational programming, doesn't matter where you are in your career.

    Carrie S: So many different things going on this year and I wanted to emphasize what Chris said, that we've got a tremendous amount of airports coming to share their own experiences from all different geographic locations and also all different sizes of airports. They're getting the small airport as well as the very, very large airport perspective. Also a lot more TSA input and even some universities are bringing their input this year. Some data-driven tools. Things like that.

    Carrie W: I do think that that's an important thing to state how like there are airport professionals, people who actually work for these different airports that are on some of these panels, they're in some of these sessions or they're attending themselves to get credentials. So, I think that's an important thing to mention that there's going to be all this knowledge in one city, that's a great addition.

    Carrie S: Maybe we didn't get a chance to touch on the absolute diversity of the program. This Symposium is hosted by AAAE and ACC. As a really active ACC member, I'm super excited to look at the variety of topics that we're gonna cover. There are, as always, but they're emerging practices that are going to help airports and there's their consultants in terms of getting the most out of the current funding that's out there. There are many, many different sessions that touch on making sure that you're maximizing getting what your airport needs and improving your passenger experience. There's so many things touching on emerging technologies. Not just the passenger experience, but the staff and the crews make their experience in their life more reliable, say, for all of those things, especially just again on those emerging technologies like there are two different sessions that are going to touch on the use of mass timber in airports. And that's just one particular thing that I think is super cool. Sometimes our brains. Don't put those two things together, but airports are a great place for such a warm material, and two different groups are bringing different topics about that. But that's just a little the things I'm excited about amongst others.

    Carrie W: Well, thank you for sharing that and I read something recently about mass timber being used in all sorts of applications and I was like: what is this? New trend. So that's well that they're going to be talking about it. Thank you so much to all of you for joining us in the whole room today. We hope that our listeners register for Symposium and get to experience some of this themselves. Thank you everyone.

    Carrie S: Thank you.

    Chris: Thank you so much for having us. Looking forward to seeing everyone in in March.



    Wendy Hageman: Thanks for joining us in The Hold Room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. You can find more from this series on the ACC Training Hub—that’s—or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. Follow us for more content from the Airport Consultants Council. You can support this podcast by leaving a rating or review and by telling your friends and colleagues about the podcast. Thanks again.