Waiting area customer experience – How can we make it better?

I don’t know about you, but I personally am not a fan of waiting areas. Typically speaking, they’re loud, and uncomfortable, and are good for nothing other than waiting. Whether it’s an airport terminal or a hotel lobby, waiting areas can definitely afford to invest in a little more customer experience.

But how is this done? What can hotel owners and airport managers do to improve the customer experience in their waiting areas beyond what they’re already doing? 

Well, to be honest, lots of things! This article will serve as a list of ways that waiting areas can be improved from top to bottom. Whether it’s a minor change or a massive overhaul that you’re looking for, there’s a little something for everyone. 

Why waiting area experience is vital to customer satisfaction

Before we dive into the specifics, it’s important to understand why the waiting area experience is so important for customer satisfaction. The truth is that you can provide the best service in the world, but if the waiting experience is poor, then your customers are likely to be dissatisfied.

This information comes from research done by Airport Council International (ACI) World. This research showed that the comfort levels of the passengers of various flights while in the waiting areas is a key overall driver of customer satisfaction.

According to the report, infrastructure is the single most important component when it comes to customer satisfaction, and the perception of comfort is a cornerstone of it. Sure, the comfort levels on the airplane are important, but many passengers spend a great deal of time waiting at their gates, too. Oftentimes, the comfort of waiting areas gets overlooked, and the customer experience suffers because of it.

“Airports continually strive to improve customer experience as passengers are demanding higher levels of service. Providing a comfortable experience for passengers waiting in gate areas is a priority for airports as waiting, even for very short periods, is an inevitable part of the passenger journey.” – ACI World Director General, Angela Gittens

Obvious elements of comfort that lead to a decent customer experience are comfortable seats, free Wi-fi, and access to clean bathrooms, but it’s not always that simple. In fact, simple services such as the ones we just mentioned have become a standard in the service industry, especially while waiting in an airport or hotel lobby.

What you also need to take into consideration is location, smells, sounds, light levels, and personal space. The best waiting areas are the ones that take into consideration every possible element of the customer experience, whether it be seen or unseen, immediately noticed or overlooked by most.

Angela Gittens, ACI World Director General also went on to say, “Beyond tangible factors – such as the comfort of seating – several intangible variables will contribute to the passenger experience. Noise, lighting, air quality, and crowd level all contribute to the ambiance. The most successful airports in providing comfort in waiting areas provide soothing environments, such as smaller lounges and quiet zones.”

What’s wrong with waiting areas now?

Before we address what we can do to improve waiting areas, we must first talk about what’s wrong with them. Above, I briefly mentioned some pain points that a lot of people face when spending time in a waiting area, but the truth is that it goes much deeper than that.

For example, an airport terminal isn’t just loud. It’s constantly loud and there are plenty of headache-inducing distractions to make your waiting time seem just a little bit longer. You have intercoms, children running around, the constant sound of foot traffic, and a lot more. It never stops from the time you sit down to the time you get on the plane, which can be just as loud.

man covering ears from loud noise

Granted, there’s not much you can do about the intercoms and the children, but having a way to escape this noise outside of plugging in your headphones and cranking the volume up would help tremendously. 

And what about comfort? It’s not typically at the top of a waiting area to-do list, but even in a hotel lobby, the level of comfort is usually minimal. You have to sit on rock-solid chairs with little to no elbow room. 

To top it all off, waiting areas and rooms are designed for one thing and one thing only: waiting. You spend potentially hours in one spot, why not use that time for something else if you want to? Well, waiting areas as they are now typically don’t allow for it. No room to work on your laptop, no wall outlet to charge your devices, and zero ways to clear your head and focus on anything else other than sitting and waiting.

How to make your waiting area useful

When we think about the big reasons we all avoid waiting areas, then we can pretty easily come up with some solutions for making them better. It involves making everyone comfortable with whatever they’re wanting to do. 

So what can be done? Well, as we stated above, quite a bit can be done. Waiting areas can introduce even small changes that can bring some impressive results. Let’s dig into those details below.

Utilize the space you have

Even if you’re the most extroverted of people, sometimes you just want your own space. Not every situation calls for being packed in the area like sardines, especially in a waiting area. 

If you’re really looking to maximize your customer experience in a waiting area, then look into providing more space. That’s not to say you need to blow out a wall and extend the waiting area. It is to say, however, that you should take advantage of the space that you have. 

Provide more places to sit, tables for items, and even some modern amenities to help make their wait a little more comfortable. 

Consider where the waiting area is located

For many people, having a bathroom close by is a very important factor in their satisfaction. But this comes with some pros and cons. The closer you are to the bathroom, the more likely there will be unpleasant smells or high foot traffic. You have to situate the waiting areas, or the bathrooms, rather, in such a way that they are conveniently close, but not too close.

Waiting area customer satisfaction can be a different experience for everyone. Some people prefer to be colder, some people prefer to be warm. If you have a massive A/C unit right in the middle on the waiting area in your hotel, then it might be too cold for some customers. Put it too far away, and you might have some people that prefer the cold getting too hot.

Typically speaking, in an airport, the waiting area is situated around the help desk where people check in before boarding the flight. But what about a hotel waiting area? If you force your visitors to walk too far, it could be considered an inconvenience.

These (and many more, for that matter) factors are all things you need to take into consideration when setting up your waiting area. Even if it might seem subtle, these changes could mean the difference between a happy customer and one that’s easily agitated. 

Provide comfortable furniture

A lot of businesses tend to cheap out on the waiting room furniture. Not that you can’t find some good deals out there, but the cheaper the furniture, typically the less comfortable it is. This can lead to sore backs and a poor customer experience.

Even in upscale hotels, they sometimes fill the waiting area with old-fashioned furniture that looks amazing, but definitely isn’t for sitting on for long periods of time. The best and maybe even fastest thing you can do to update your waiting area is to give the furniture a little upgrade.

woman sitting comfortably in waiting area

In an airport terminal, fliers can spend hours waiting for their plane. In a hotel lobby, visitors can spend a lot of time, too. This is exactly why you should invest in modern, comfortable furniture to boost your customer experience in waiting rooms.

Use technology

Picture this: you walk into a waiting area, you look around, and see nothing but a couple of pieces of furniture and a water fountain that probably doesn’t even work. This is the standard for waiting areas nowadays, and it absolutely has to change.

We are in the golden age of tech. With very little cost, business owners and management can invest in customer experience via technology. This isn’t to say that you need a laptop and the latest video games for each and every person that walks in. It is to say, however, that you can provide chargers, places to charge, and easy access to wifi.

Create work stations

It seems that just about everyone is on the go lately, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The world of business and how we all manage our work days have changed drastically over the last few years, and it’s not going to regress anytime soon.

Many people prefer the work-on-the-go workflow, and it’s about time that waiting areas accommodate for it. In truth, a combination of everything we’ve listed above is a great start, but you can take it to the next level.

Simple workstations out in place and dedicated to those who want to spend their waiting time working will really improve the customer experience. In some cases, you might even be able to provide portable computers. These don’t have to be expensive, but the people who may not be thinking about work might see this workstation and remember to check their emails.

When you want to create a great customer experience in a waiting area, you have to think about any and every scenario. This includes work-related scenarios. For that reason, a couple of workstations scattered about can really make a difference for a lot of people.

Create areas of privacy

Although waiting areas aren’t known for privacy, adding some dividers or sectioned-off seating can really help some people feel right at home. Making a change like this can be as simple as changing the seating arrangements, or as complex as adding visual dividers.

For many airline travelers or hotel goers, one of the biggest issues is privacy and having your own space to be alone. There is a time and place for conversations with strangers, but not everyone will want to rub shoulders with the person sitting next to them.

Typically, airlines combat this by adding an enormous amount of chairs, ensuring that everyone will have plenty of space to stretch their legs if they want to. That being said, it’s not exactly private. You can still feel crowded if there are enough people waiting.

Instead, try using decor like plants and barriers to break off the visual repetition of chairs on top of chairs. Bring a little life into the waiting area and give the people the privacy they need in order to improve the customer experience.

Make the atmosphere enjoyable

A lot of people sort of expect the bare minimum in waiting areas nowadays. After, you absolutely never hear people say, “My favorite part of the trip was waiting in the hotel lobby!” This is because the atmosphere in waiting areas is typically cold and grey.

It wasn’t until very recently that airports started to liven things up in their terminals with artwork and colors, but most of the airport is still black, white, and grey. 

This can be a real drag for people that are anxious to get where they’re going. All gates look the same, flow the same, and never really offer anything other than an intercom system that you can never really hear and long lines.

Focusing on making the atmosphere enjoyable can really turn a long, grueling, 10-hour plane trip into an enjoyable experience. You can do this by distracting the customers from the waiting process. 

Add paintings and decor anywhere you can. Provide unique seating arrangements and interesting lounging layouts. Stick an interesting snack cart in the corner, don’t just leave it blank. There are so many ways that you could mix it up in a waiting area scenario. The key is to provide entertainment and exceed the rather low expectations that most waiting guests have.

There was also a study done by the UCL Medical school in London, England that shows that music can really help elevate an airline passenger’s mood. In fact, 88% of the people that they interviewed admitted to enjoying the music in the waiting area. You just want to make sure that the tune is soft and relaxing.

The Nookaspace solution

So we’ve talked about a few scenarios for hotels and airport terminals, talked about some changes you can make, and even provided some data for why you might want to make these changes. Now it’s time to talk about the ultimate solution, Nooka.

You see, Nooka provides airport and hotel guests with the space, privacy, comfort, and quiet they need to catch up on work while they wait.

Take, for example, the AIR ONE, AIR TWO, and AIR TWO S for indoors. It’s sound-reducing, comfortable, and provides anyone with everything they need to catch a breath in the busy airport gate or hotel lobby.

Nooka AIR ONE office workstation for waiting areas

Indoor Nooka work booths are compact enough that they can be tucked away and out of vital foot traffic areas, but big enough to comfortably seat 1-4 people each. 

The work booths are IoT compatible, which means they enable smart access through the app, which can easily be downloaded on both iOS and Google Play. Each booth comes with high-speed wi-fi and smart sensors for the best quality of life while it’s in use. 

Nooka booking app for iphone and android

Nooka helps you boost customer experience in waiting areas

Based on everything we’ve discussed above, it’s easy to see how incredibly difficult it can be to provide the perfect experience for everyone in a waiting area. In high-traffic areas like a busy airport terminal, it can be even more difficult to avoid any sort of unpleasant experience since there’s so much that can be out of your control.

Nooka indoor work spaces provide you and the people that choose to it the control needed to make the customer experience perfect. Adding a Nooka can give airline passengers and hotel guests the comfort, space, and focus they need to get their work done, or simply escape from the outside world for a while.

Beyond all of that, they are incredibly easy to set up in an indoor space. All you need to do is provide the space, and it plugs right in and is ready to go in an instant. 

Want to know more about how Nooka can completely change your indoor customer experience? Get in touch with us

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