How Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Creates A Passenger Journey Via Email

The Challenge

Before the arrival of Ruth Hakkenberg, the email program at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport was a strategy-free, once-a-month affair going to everyone on the list. Then she was hired to head the email marketing department and was tasked with improving it.

The Execution

She began by defining the phases of the passenger journey from booking to parking to going through security to finding a seat on the plane and the reverse, including finding one’s luggage and then finding one’s car in the parking lot. Hakkenberg created three customer pillars: Guide Me, Relieve Me, Excite Me. These help her team plot their activities.

Guide Me involves basic information, such as where is the parking, how to enter the lot, what can one take in one’s hand luggage. Relieve Me is about the shops, what can be bought, what is the cost. Excite Me’s main focus is to have a happy customer.

With email, the team defined traveling phases: booking, pre-stay, stay and post-stay and created goals for each. It brought the loyalty program into email from the traditional mail. And it was able to tout how much there was to do at the airport, which boasts a museum and playgrounds for children. “A lot is unknown by people,” she told MediaPost’s Email Insiders Summit in February 2018. “This comes back to Relieve Me and Excite Me.” (Here‘s a link to the video presentation.)

Also now the airport gets feedback on a daily basis from people who park their cars there as opposed to going out to the lot every so often to ask. “We can react more quickly,” Hakkenberg said, which is better not just for marketing but for customer operations. 

One of its best practices is the One-Click Upgrade by which the airport is able to accommodate all who want to park their cars there. It lets the airport transfer people from long-term parking to valet parking when space is needed to keep long-term open.

Another is the See Buy Fly whose two main goals are to increase shop visits and to influence shopping intention before people get to them. This year it was integrated into the brand’s website. Hakkenberg and team introduced vouchers built into the email system that generates bar codes and reminders. It was integrated into the parking lifecycle and now the department is collecting data from passengers from shopping and parking.


  • One-Click Upgrade involved 500 people and got a good open rate, Hakkenberg said. It saw 205 unique clicks and resulted in 182 upgrades.
  • See Buy Fly email made downloads of its voucher grow by 80%. Forty-one percent of those with a voucher planned to buy something in the shops, and once there they spent 25% more than they would have without the voucher.
  • Online parking revenue grew by 4%.

Key Takeaways

  • Start with a small group before extending to the entire database.
  • Create internal support within the company.
  • Maintain a good relationship with Legal.
  • Use reference groups by excluding 10% of the database for comparison.
  • In measuring the success of email, make a good analysis of every campaign.
  • Experience your customer’s journey.
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