Free envelopes with discounts and New Year wishes are just the tip of the iceberg.
During February, passengers from Asia are being welcomed at Helsinki Airport with bright red envelopes. The airport’s Chinese speaking guides are handing out the envelopes, which contain discounts and wishes for the Year of the Dog 2018.
Airport operator Finavia says this is one example of how it continues its long-term development work to improve its customer experience for its ever-increasing numbers of Asian visitors, especially as the number of routes to China increase.
The numbers of Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists have increased rapidly in Finland in recent years. In 2017, nearly 500,000 air passengers from China and over 675,000 from Japan arrived at Finavia’s airports.
“Of all of the airports in Europe, Helsinki offers the most direct connections to Japan, and the fifth most to China”, says Finavia’s director of marketing and communications Katja Siberg.
“Lapland’s rising popularity as a tourist destination has also considerably increased the numbers of Asian passengers. Finland is a central hub for air traffic between Europe and Asia.”
Helsinki has direct connections to 140 international and 20 domestic destinations, making it an important hub for transfer passengers.
The airport started out with signs in various languages, then added Chinese-speaking guides and customer service staff, and now offers its stores and restaurants a real-time mobile interpretation service.
The services are also introduced in Chinese on the airport’s WeChat and Sina Weibo social media accounts, as well as on the Youku channel, which is similar to YouTube.
Asian passengers’ shopping at the airport is made easier by UnionPay and Alipay. According to the Alibaba Alizila website, Finland is becoming Europe’s first “all Alipay” destination, where Chinese tourists can pay for their shopping with a mobile application without a credit card or cash.
Meanwhile, Helsinki is a sister airport to Asia’s largest hub, Beijing Airport – a collaboration that has, for example, resulted in employee exchanges between Finland and China. It has also resulted in “a good dose of understanding for the Chinese service culture and the needs of Chinese passengers”, such as hot water vending machines.