Case Study

Design in business | daa International

The company

In 2014, 3.2 billion people travelled by air. This figure is set to increase to 6 billion by 2030. Last year, Dublin and Cork Airports had their highest rate of passenger growth since 2007, increasing by 6% to 23.9 million. Collectively, the two airports support an estimated 108,100 jobs and contribute €7.6 billion to Ireland’s GDP. This is equivalent to 4.4% of Ireland’s national economy. In response to growing demand, the business model for airport management around the world is changing. Airports used to be predominately government owned but are now increasingly migrating to private investment. Dublin Airport is an example of this as although the main shareholder is the Irish State, represented by the Minister for Transport, there is an increasing share owned by private investors.

daa International is the global arm of the daa Group that includes Dublin Airport, Cork Airport and ARI, operating airport retail businesses. The role of daa International is to unlock value for airport investors through international airport operations management contracting, airport consulting and aviation training. The majority of the consulting work is internationally focused with an increasing number of clients in the Middle East, USA, India and Africa.

daa International recognise that design, as a problem solving and explanatory tool, is an integral part of the company culture. Although there is no specific design team within daa International, there are a number of professionally trained designers. Consequently, design permeates the ethos, business development and operations of the company.

Design activity in Ireland

Design activity within daa International comprises of branding and systems solution design. The branding element refers to the identity created by the firm. daa International trades on the reputation created by Dublin Airport. When investors arrive in Ireland, the traveller experience in Dublin Airport must represent the customer experience of daa International.  The systems design refers to process sequencing and designing solutions to complex challenges that are orientated around the traveller.

Design in focus

The Vice President of daa International believes that design was responsible for its success in a recent five-year contract to manage the operations for an airport in the Middle East. The contract will involve placing 15 staff from the daa Group into the airport for consultancy and training who will ultimately manage the operations. Competing against airports in the UK, Germany, Turkey, Korea and South Africa, concept and design were significant differentiating factors in the daa offer.

The submission proposed a user-centred design to create an all-encompassing solution for the airport authority that put the passenger at the centre of the process. The aim is to create a seamless experience for the traveller, from before departures until after arrivals, across multiple airport functions, operations and services – parking, transfers, check-in, baggage handling, cleaning, energy, waste management, security and retail amongst others. The design solution completely addressed the problem that the client had difficulty in articulating.

The daa submission also received full marks in the technical scoring because of the visual presentation of the tender which included an animated film, technical specifications and infographics. Effective design transcends linguistic barriers and daa used visual design as a form of communication in the tender.

Impacts from design

daa International has been in operation for two years and is already winning significant strategic advisory service contracts from global players. Design forms an integrated element of the businesses’ offer and is perceived to have been at the heart of winning significant contracts. This has allowed daa International to increase its international activities, complementing the rest of the daa group.