Orlando International Airport (MCO) is one of the busiest airports in the United States and a major international gateway. Built to accommodate 24 million passengers annually, years of rapid growth required a 1.1 billion-dollar capital improvement plan (CIP) to increase the capacity of the airport’s North Terminal to 45 million passengers per year, improve operations, enhance passenger experience, and more.
Renovation and modernization of the ticketing lobby were a core part of the CIP. Physical expansion of the check-in area was not. The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) turned to Synect to help define how digital signage and visual communications could help deliver on the objectives of the CIP by enabling a smarter check-in environment.
With explosive growth and the active addition of new airlines and destinations, check-in counter space was in high demand at MCO. Provisioning counters was a lengthy process involving static signs, stanchions, and printed materials. Increasing capacity, improving operations, and enhancing passenger experience required:
Effective airport and airline branding to help passengers find their counters
Flexibility for check-in counters to expand and contract based on demand
Seamless implementation allowing the airport to maintain business as usual
Emphasis on the helpful, family-friendly experience passengers love about MCO
Synect’s Passenger360® system would be used to deliver on the airport’s objective and vision. Passenger360 is a next-generation digital signage platform and content management system (CMS). It delivers engaging, essential travel information that moves passengers through the airport with ease. Synect developed a pilot program demonstrating how content and branding at the check-in counters could become dynamic and deliver on GOAA’s objectives. After the pilot, the decision to move forward was unanimous.
Power in Numbers
GOAA and Synect envisioned a seamless canvas running behind the check-in counters, where the functionality explored in the pilot could be realized for all airlines. Synect designed the system using Passenger360, created the content strategy, and integrated the solution with airport systems, including the Airport Operations Center (AOC) and Airport Operations Database (AODB). Synect and project teams completed the first whole segment of the video wall on time and on budget in 2017.
The digital check-in canvas delivers a world-first blend of immersive multimedia content and curated FIDS information, rendered in real-time across the near-seamless, synchronized screens. The video wall content includes FIDS data, station identifiers, branding, campaigns, and more. The counter allocations and content displayed on the video wall are driven by the flight schedule, which means the video wall operates autonomously.
The dynamic content and capabilities mean the same physical counter space works for more than 40 airlines. Synect’s Passenger360 system supports and handles ticket counter expansion and contraction, airline mergers, code-sharing, charter flights, delays, cancellations, custom airline appearance and scheduling rules, and other scenarios. At any given moment, the AOC can override content scheduled on the digital signage system to address any unforeseen circumstances.
January of 2018 saw the successful completion of the entire check-in video wall. The complete check-in video wall comprises more than 700 synchronized screens. Synect delivers frequent deployments of new campaigns, content, and functionality to this day. Inspired by the success of the project, the vision grew to encompass additional custom canvases.
Over mid-2017 to early 2018, the network grew to include the curbside, self-check-in/bump-outs, wayfinding locations, the South Automated People Mover (APM) Messaging board, and APM wayfinding. The Passenger360 system scales gracefully to accommodate each installation and future visions. In 2018, MCO’s traffic increased to nearly 48 million passengers. Not only did passenger traffic exceed the original target of 45 million, but both airport stakeholders and passengers love the new look of the North Terminal.
In a 2018 interview with Airport Improvement Magazine, then-CIO John Newsome said: “The content is developed to include not just the information needed for a specific location, but also for enjoyment of our travelers and to instill a sense of place that is consistent with ‘The Orlando Experience’—a calm, comfortable environment that blends air and light, water and foliage, and art.” The airport ranked as the number one mega airport in the 2017 and 2018 J.D. Power North American Airport Satisfaction Survey. It was named “Large Airport of the Year” by CAPA – Centre for Aviation in 2018 and was named 2020’s Best Large Airport in USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Awards.
Serve More Passengers in the Same Space
Engage Passengers with a Memorable Orlando Experience
Automate Provisioning Counter Space