Richard Ottens began his academic journey by studying Material Science at the TU Delft. This subject investigates how certain materials, from glass to steal, develop specific characteristics following the application of treatments. He studied this for six years. Since then, he has lived and travelled all over South Africa, until he moved back to Holland in 2001 to work with KLM. He began working in revenue management, worked at Engineering & Maintenance and is now working for Passenger Service as Head of Product Development.
In his current role, Richard looks at how to optimise passenger touch points at the airport, while also focusing on reducing operational costs for KLM. A huge part of this involves digitalising the passenger experience in Schiphol Airport specifically. In the PASSME project, he is leader of Work Package 3 which researches how to develop a seamless journey for airline passengers, when it comes to the transportation of hold and cabin luggage, and also tax free items.
We asked Richard some questions about himself to find out a bit more about the work that he does and why he enjoys doing it. Have a look at his answers to our questions here…
What do you enjoy about your role in PASSME?
In KLM within the PASSME project, I work with a number University students who have high energy and are full of creative ideas. At the moment, this student mentoring is one of my favourite parts of my job and gives me a lot of energy. Furthermore, I have a real customer focus, and since PASSME attempts to provide airline passengers with a ‘wow’ experience at European airports, my participation within PASSME is very enjoyable.
What is your favourite destination that you have travelled to?
I would have to say Cape Town in South Africa; I lived and studied there for almost 2 years. Cape Town has the ideal weather, offers a large nature reserve in the middle of the city, and has plenty of wine farms with exquisite lunches. Every time I visit Cape Town, the high quality of life is very clear and I always feel safe and very welcome.
What do you hate the most about travelling through the airport?
I really hate queuing - I don’t know how long it will take airports to improve this experience; especially the security queues in the United States. Passengers sometimes feel lik they are cattle on a farm!
What is your favourite airport in the world?
Honolulu airport in Hawaii! Hola girls greet you at the airport doors with layas. In the past, although I arrived very tired after a long journey, the welcoming and friendly character of the people makes you immediately forget about your exhausting journey.
If you could change one thing about the travel experience for passengers (in a dream world) what would it be?
I would have to choose reducing the amount of wasted time passengers spend in the airport- simply give passengers control of their own time. If the amount of ‘me-time’ spent in the airport were to improve, the real holiday feeling would actually already commence at the airport!