In 2017, Finnair was looking to transform their ground-to-air customer experience, and a key part of this transformation was a redefinition of their Non-Schengen lounge at Helsinki airport.
Finnair aspired to create a contemporary Nordic customer experience for their lounge that would give their most loyal Premium and Business passengers the same high degree of freedom and choice that their customers would soon be offered as part of Finnair’s upcoming aircraft fleet expansion plans.
The design of the new lounge had to contend with two key constraints: the existing core services needed to be kept in their original locations to constrain costs and the correct allocation and location of space needed to be assigned to the separate Premium and Business sections of the lounge in order to create an engaging customer experience for both passenger classes.
tangerine presented a vision for travelling with Finnair called ‘Nordic Freedom’, which envisaged a modern Nordic look and feel for the lounge environment, while providing passengers with the freedom to use their time as they’d like, choose what type of atmosphere they’d like to sit in and choose suitable services in order to fully enjoy the warmth and hospitality that Finnair has to offer.
In a collaboration between Finnair, tangerine and a Finnish agency, Koko3, the ‘Nordic Freedom’ vision was then developed over a 15-month period, with the new Finnair Non-Schengen lounge opening in the second half of 2019.
At the start of the development, the three teams met in Finland to build a rapport through a period of corporate and cultural immersion. This enabled the team to build on the vision created by tangerine; in a place and time that perfectly embodied the essence of Nordic hospitality – a lodge at the edge of Lapland in the heart of winter.
The collaborative team, made of up of different nationalities including Finnish natives, worked together to identify the best way to create a modern expression of the Nordic experience in the design of the lounge. tangerine provided a fresh perspective on Nordic identity and insights into passengers’ behaviours and mindsets, drawing on three decades experience delivering exceptional interior environments for premium transportation and hospitality services.
To deliver a truly compelling customer experience, the team understood the importance of ensuring that their priorities for the design were aligned with those of Finnair’s loyal customers. An event was organised with Finnair Platinum customers to share the developing design concept and gather feedback on what they considered to be their key priorities and what their expectations were for the airport lounge.
Finnair had acquired additional space for the new lounge. However, the larger space allocated for the more numerous business class passengers was situated in the best area of the site, whereas the most valued Premium passengers were left with an area without suitable qualities for Finnair’s most loyal VIP flyers. It was therefore apparent to tangerine from the outset that the division of space between the areas previously dedicated to Premium and Business passengers needed to be completely rethought to address the challenges and maximise the opportunities presented by the new site.
The challenge was to distribute the space to accommodate the right number of and Premium and Business travellers, optimize passenger flow, and prioritise the preferable runway views for the Premium flyers. All while keeping the core services such as the catering facilities and bathrooms in place to reduce the overall build costs.
“Tangerine’s approach to the design and layout really allowed us to get the most out of the space available and aligned well to our future lounge proposition in serving our most frequent flyers and also to attract new ones. Many of the big ideas Tangerine brought to the table were embodied to the lounge and the feedback from our customer has been overwhelmingly positive.” David Kondo, Head of Customer Experience Product Design at Finnair
The initial concept created by tangerine and developed collaboratively was implemented by Finnair and Koko3 on the ground in Helsinki. Nordic Freedom came to life in a lounge that is divided into a number of different “pockets” aligned to different customer needs and activities to accommodate different styles and paces of travel. The lounge welcomes Finnish customers with a homely experience while providing international travellers with an authentic, premium experience of Finland’s hospitality. The aesthetic of the new lounge centres on a Nordic identity through simple, clean lines, natural materials and mixed textures, providing a warm, “human” experience. The use of Finnish stone and timber, Nordic furniture, lighting and textiles ensure that the lounge’s design language is a true reflection of the Nordic affinity for freedom.
The lounge is divided into separate Business and Premium sections, each boasting its own bar, catering facilities and different pockets of spaces to sit and relax, such as social seating, a family area with games, quiet zones and areas dedicated for productivity. Business passengers have canteen-style dining and grab-and-go snacking, whereas Premium customers have the added luxury of à la carte dining and access to an exclusive authentic Finnish sauna.
Matt Round Chief Creative Officer says, “Together through collaboration, we created an authentic Finnish experience that connects with Finns and international visitors to the country. The lounge raises the quality of Finnair’s customer experience on the ground, in harmony with the airlines onboard experience.”