Airport Management: Live Business Lessons at Marconi Airport in Bologna

9 May 2024

Business management lessons take flight in an unusual setting: Bologna Airport. For students of the Master’s in Business Management – Tourism, Heritage, and Events, a recent company visit transformed the airport into a true educational hub. By directly observing how an international hub meets passenger needs, the Master’s participants could appreciate the importance of management strategies that streamline the daily flow of people and services. We asked one of them, Sabrina Attolini, to share her experience with us.

What aspects of airport organization struck you the most during the visit, and how do you think they can be applied in business management?

Upon entering Bologna Airport, you immediately find a dining area brimming with gastronomic offerings, bars, and cafes. Continuing towards the baggage check-in area, you encounter various types of shops and, of course, travel agencies and general tourist services. This organization suggests that the airport was designed with potential customer needs in mind. Indeed, users who may have had a long journey to reach the airport can immediately find a place to eat and drink, and after addressing that need, they have the opportunity to browse through stores, perhaps to pass the time if they are early. I also noticed that right after the arrival gates, there is a supermarket, clearly intended for people who, having just arrived in town, might need to shop for various items not brought from home. This way of organizing the structure makes me reflect on how the location and layout of the airport and its shops are essential for the smooth functioning of the business.

Did you have the opportunity to interact with airport professionals during the visit? If so, what were the highlights of these interactions, and what did you learn from these experiences?

Our visit started at the airport’s administrative offices, where we were introduced to the project we will develop through a presentation of the problem we need to solve. There, they shared the airport’s history, its growing number of passengers, and the investment plan aimed at enlarging and modernizing the facility. I really appreciated the clarity of the explanations and the usefulness of the insights our contacts provided. I think it’s really interesting to listen to and interact with people who manage such a vast and complex mechanism as an airport.

Following this company visit, what skills or knowledge do you think you have gained that could be useful for your future career?

This visit gave us an overview of how an airport facility operates and gave us an idea of the size and difficulty of managing such establishments. I better understood that, as with many other aspects, the higher you aim, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Currently, Bologna Airport is undergoing a significant investment, clearly driven by the need due to increasing visitors but certainly also by the desire to aim higher. The more the airport grows, the more the city will be able to welcome visitors. From this, I learned that the more you listen to the customer and the quicker you are to anticipate their needs, the more effectively you can satisfy them, benefiting everyone involved.


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