Dubai Airport Customer Service Design

Piloting a new approach to customer service and information delivery.

Dubai Airport Customer Service Design Image

Dubai Airports, faced with the challenge of accommodating a growing number of passengers at the world's busiest hub airport, partnered with the Engine Service Design Team to create a customer-centric service strategy called 'Arabian Hospitality'.

The Challenge

The busiest hub airport in the world (90m passengers per year), risked increasing pressure on their operation and a diluted customer experience from increase passenger numbers. With no option but to build more capacity, Dubai Airports decided to simultaneously enhance their service offering, creating a world class customer experience, whilst getting more from their existing facility and resources.

The Outcome

The Engine Service Design Team developed an ambitious vision for the airport customer experience, comprising the enhancement of the front-line service team and the passenger information flow, which were designed in detail and piloted within the current airport to see the impact.


This hospitality focused initiative, combined front-line service and the redesign of passenger information, to create a distinctive passenger centred service, with great results.

Shifting the front-line teams from operations to hospitality

Dubai Airport is one of the largest in the world; with 70% of those passing through it connecting from one flight to another, it meant staff played a critical role in ensuring flights were caught on time and passengers were able to make the most of their time whilst in transit. In collaboration with strategy and operational teams Engine Service Design developed a new, passenger-centred, service style called ‘Arabian Hospitality’ and supporting operational guidelines that would raise the level of service passengers would receive. Engine also redesigned the staff learning experience and provided support on the ground to embed the new service behaviours.

A refreshed approach to passenger information

To support the improvement of customer service, Engine Service Design experts also reviewed passenger information across the airport and developed a series of enhanced information products, to supplement the existing wayfinding; these have now become part of the information standard. The design work involved developing more high impact visual signage and creating improved landmarks and maps that enables passengers to make quick decisions. We also developed a digital application for supporting staff and the passengers throughout their airport journey.

Project to programme

Once developed the Engine Service Design Team worked with Dubai Airports implementation partners, to design and manage the production and the delivery of the training and the ‘on-the-job coaching’. In parallel, developing the piloting plan for the airport to measure the impact once the new information products and services were in place; this allowed Dubai Airports and Engine to understand how these changes were performing and make adjustments as necessary. The pilot ran for 3 months, after which results were reported upon and an airport-wide roll-out was given the green light.

“Through taking a design-led approach to our service improvement, we were able to demonstrate that being vision-led and focusing on the customer could have a demonstrable impact on the customer experience, operations and commercial performance”.

Mazhar Butt, Head of Customer Experience, Dubai Airports


“Engine has had more impact in three months than we have had in five years”

-80% fewer questions

+8.6% increase in satisfaction

+30% increase in F&B

Increase in commercial spend

Design Effectiveness award winner

Design Business Association Awards, 2018

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