The Chinese actor and TV-personality Ryan Zhu lived in Helsinki Airport for 30 days as an experiment to find out if the airport really is as good as it claims to be.
Just like Tom Hanks’ character in “The Terminal,” Chinese actor Ryan Zhu lived in an airport for a month. Helsinki was the airport. #LIFEINHEL was the campaign. So far, 2.2 billion people have stumbled upon Zhu’s living arrangements trough social media.
“We at Helsinki Airport have an impressive track record in the continuous development of the customer experience. This time we wanted to have a comprehensive insight of how an international transit passenger sees us”, explains Katja Siberg, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Finavia, operator of Helsinki Airport.
The #LIFEINHEL initiative highlighted the fact that Helsinki Airport is the leading airport in Northern Europe.
“We are a top hub for connecting Asia and Europe. At the same time, we are also preparing to serve 30 million annual passengers, while also maintaining our position as a preferred airport”, Siberg said. Last week, Finavia reported that Helsinki Airport’s passenger numbers are growing at a double-digit growth rate and that the record-breaking number hit 18 million passengers.
In the final report, Ryan gave Helsinki Airport an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5. He was especially very fond of security, safety and transfer times.
“We are very pleased with Ryan’s ratings, of course, but the most valuable insight lies where there are still room for improvements. For example, we share his opinions concerning the lack of space and Chinese food. I’m delighted to tell that with our extensive 900 million euro development program, the terminal space will enlarge by 45 percent, due to which we will expand our food offer –especially to the Asian kitchen”, Siberg said.
Ryan also suggested that even more service staff with proficient language skills could be hired. With their help, tourists could learn more about the food they eat and the products they buy at the airport. Siberg promised that Finavia will look into this matter as well. Helsinki Airport has now set up e.g. Chinese customer service personnel. Furthermore, e-Translators in several languages are available, not to mention hot water dispensers installed especially with Asian passengers in mind, as well as AliPay and UnionPay payment systems.
“When we decided to cover Ryan’s experiences with short daily videos, we took a risk. Naturally, we had no control of what he and other key opinion leaders would post on social media. But honest and open communication is our core policy and company value. Moreover, if Ryan had not liked it here, he would have taken the next flight back to China. But it all paid off!”, Siberg said.