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RECENT years have seen Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) embark on significant initiatives to transform the travel experience at KL International Airport (KLIA).

Through a multifaceted approach encompassing retail, dining, services and technological advancements, MAHB is reshaping the airport experience, aiming to elevate passenger satisfaction.

At the heart of this transformation, MAHB commercial service senior general manager Hani Ezra Hussin shares that the company aims to reposition KLIA from merely a transportation hub into a destination in itself, enhancing the overall passenger experience.

As travellers prepare for their international adventures, the stress and fear of forgetting essentials can be overwhelming.

Recognising this concern, MAHB has sought to revamp its retail offerings, ensuring that the passenger’s airport experience is nothing short of convenient.

The airport’s limited floor space posed a challenge when it came to offering a variety of shops, so market analysis and passenger feedback were pivotal in selecting new tenants.

These insights have been crucial in the selection of new tenants. “Using the information gathered from surveys, we’ve been able to understand evolving preferences,” explains Hani.

MAHB recognised the change in travellers’ expectations and needs, deciding it was best to go to the users directly for such insight.

MAHB’s ambitious commercial reset programme is set to reach a fresh milestone at KLIA, the major gateway to the country.

The Centre Court Forest at KLIA Terminal 1 (T1) is undergoing a revitalisation that will not only expand space from 497 to 4,500sq m, it will create a new premium commercial hub around the forest-in-the-airport concept.

The revitalised forest area will combine commercial and non-commercial spaces, attracting renowned luxury brands and enhancing the shopping experience and ambience.

The Centre Court Forest at KLIA Terminal 1 is undergoing a revitalisation that will create a new nexus of premium shopping. (Visual is for illustration purposes only.)

Memorable Malaysian mementos

“With food and beverage being the new retail, we hope to create an atmosphere where passengers will spend more time exploring our latest offerings and exclusive options available,” shares Hani.

In line with the commitment to craft special experiences, MAHB has worked with tenants to provide uniquely packaged products, serving as memorable souvenirs that capture the essence and rich heritage of Malaysia.

“We encourage our tenants to curate special packaging for their products, weaving in a story into the item so that passengers can take back a tangible piece of their journey,” says Hani.

Another aspect of this transformation has been embedding Malaysian arts, culture and flavours into KLIA’s ambience, as the localised surroundings set the tone for inbound foreign travellers and evoke a sense of familiarity for Malaysians.

MAHB has worked closely with its tenants to incorporate Malaysian elements into their store designs and menus.

For example, international brands were encouraged to incorporate batik elements into its soft furnishings, and outlets were urged to feature iconic Malaysian landmarks in its interior design.

This concerted effort not only celebrates Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage but also creates a unique and immersive experience for passengers at KLIA.

Innovative improvements

Furthermore, KLIA integrates cutting-edge technologies to enhance the passenger’s experience.

The Eraman duty-free stores epitomise this with automated efficiency, notably with the introduction of its self-checkout counters - a pioneering initiative in the Malaysian travel retail industry, highlighting its dedication to innovation.

“We’ve modernised the retail experience, empowering passengers with easy and seamless checkout systems.

“This includes cashless payment options and self-serve kiosks found in most stores across the airport, catering to evolving consumer preferences,” says Hani.

The Eraman stores are situated in both the main terminal and satellite buildings, offering an extensive range of duty-free products.

While the satellite building store specialises in chocolates, wines and liquor, the main terminal store will resemble an emporium, boasting a diverse range, Hani reveals.

Looking ahead, MAHB has implemented cutting-edge solutions like facial recognition technology and self-service bag drop kiosks to streamline the passenger check-in process.

Exciting new services await

In its pursuit of enhancing passenger convenience and satisfaction, MAHB has rolled out an excess baggage postal service, directly addressing concerns about excess baggage fees.

Passengers now have the option to send their excess baggage directly to their destination at a fraction of the cost.

With assistance from baggage postal staff to handle wrapping, securing bags and arranging delivery through airlines or courier services, passengers can sit back and be rest assured of a safe and cost-effective delivery.

This innovative service simplifies the process, offering a hassle-free alternative to traditional postal methods and a cost-effective solution to excess baggage fees imposed by airlines.

MAHB is also stepping up its game by providing passengers with comfortable, short-term accommodation options for layovers.

Alongside the existing Sama-Sama Hotel, the new Kepler Capsule Hotel that is located inside the airport caters to passengers needing 40 winks during shorter transits.

Fan favourite fests

MAHB is excited to announce the return of familiar campaigns this year. The highly anticipated Licence to Win campaign promises exciting prizes, with a renewed focus on giving back to the airport tenants.

Similarly, the KULinary Awards are back, celebrating excellence in food quality and service at the airport, further enriching the overall airport experience by ensuring that dining is diverse and satisfying.

A memorable journey

Through these extensive efforts, Hani envisions passengers embarking on a memorable and enriching Malaysian travel experience that begins at KLIA.

With this commercial reset initiative and a laser focus on innovation and cultural integration, MAHB is poised to set new standards of airport excellence.

After all, KLIA is not just a gateway – it’s a destination where passengers can embark on a journey of discovery and delight.

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