Sami Samola, Manager of Business Flights FBO and Head of Apron Services at Finavia on what passengers want from an FBO
Q: What is it that passengers and jet owners want from an FBO?
A: The primary thing we see is that a rapid response to handling requests and the delivery of high-quality services are the key points in making customers happy. Passengers want to be sure that everything goes smoothly when choosing the FBO and business jet owners want their aircraft to be in good hands. We believe that all customers want and expect to get honest responses to their inquiries. So a very strong principle of ours is, “Do not promise until you are sure you can deliver!”
Q: How important is catering for passengers and flight crews to your FBO philosophy?
A: High-quality catering is important to every flight. It is the final topping to a top-class customer experience. Whether it is the passengers or the flight crew it is very important to provide tasty in-flight meals.
We try to encourage our customers to order some local specialties when visiting Finland. We can always provide standard high-quality catering but why not try something different? For example, hot smoked salmon is one of the Finnish specialties that is difficult to get from other locations.
Q: What are the logistical challenges in providing a completely seamless one-stop service for operators and their clients?
A: Our goal is to provide a smooth and easy combination of services to our customers. All services are provided within a short distance. For example, border control and Customs are on-site in our own terminal to ensure that it is easy for clients to arrive or depart at any hour. Perhaps our biggest and maybe the only serious challenge we face is providing a rapid service during Helsinki Airport’s rush hour.
Helsinki Airport is open 24 hours a day, but it is a busy airport and rush hour is really busy. If customers need to depart during rush hour, our staff have to be on top of the situation to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. In this matter we believe that honesty is what the customer needs. We always tell our customers if there is the possibility or likelihood of any delays that could impact the time of their planned departure. This way they can adjust their schedule to avoid any inconvenience.
Q: How do you go about building up relationships with operators, charter companies and owners? What is involved in promoting the FBO to the world?
A: The best way to build up good relationships with our customers is to provide high-quality services every time. They need to feel that they are really being taken care of. We need to consider everyone as an individual and cater for their specific requirements. There is no one size fits all in business aviation.
To market Finavia to the world we focus on attending shows and expos, which is a great way to meet our clients and potential clients in person. We also see the importance of advertising in the top business flight publications to get our services well known within the industry. But far and away the best advertising is the service itself.
Q: How can an FBO enhance its reputation and standing with clients?
A: The simple way is to provide the services requested to a high standard and to give the customer just a bit more than they expected!
Q: How important is the external and internal appearance of the building? Should the FBO flight lounge facilities, for example, aim to be palatial or simply smart executive? Is it important to have a hotel dimension so that VIPs can sleep over if necessary, or is that just adding a prohibitive cost level to the business?
A: The appearance of the facilities is important but it is even more important that the FBO building functions efficiently in daily use. In our experience, passengers are not looking to spend any extra time in the FBO building. In Helsinki, the distance between the aircraft and the limousine can be as short as 60 metres. For those occasions when passengers need to stay at the FBO, we have high-class VIP lounges which we can make available for an additional charge. This way we can keep standard prices at a very reasonable level.
When it comes to sleepovers, our airport hotels can provide the high-level accommodation that our customers need. It is better for FBOs to focus on the services they know best and to leave accommodation to the specialist hotel chains.
For the flight crews we try to provide a service level that makes them feel almost like they are at their home base. We have crew lounges, refreshments and relaxation rooms for the crew members to use.
Q: What have been the major challenges in growing Finavia’s standing and services for the business aviation sector?
A: The biggest challenge is to make operators in both the East and the West aware of the perfect global location and excellent 24-hour service provided by Finavia Business Flight Centre.