An innovation engine for growth.

Vancouver International Airport | Innovation Playbook

Illustration of Vancouver International Airport


  • Aviation
  • Mobility


  • Experience Journey Mapping
  • Future Studies
  • Scenario Development
  • Socio-Cultural Trend Analysis
  • Trend & Drivers Analysis
  • User & Stakeholder Interviews

Vancouver International Airport partnered with Teague to strategize beyond the status quo and secure its leadership as an international hub of innovation.


Cementing leadership in passenger experience.

In 2019, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) celebrated a record-breaking victory being named “Best Airport in North America” by the Skytrax World Airport Awards for its tenth consecutive year. Despite its relatively small size compared to other hubs, YVR prides itself as a global leader in airport innovation. Its combination of quintessential Canadian hospitality with industry-leading travel technology was recognized by millions of international travelers during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games. A decade later, YVR wanted to fortify—and augment—its foothold on exceptional passenger experience. The airport partnered with Teague to think beyond the status quo and take its innovation program to the next level.

While the broader ask was to provide insightful investment guidelines, deeper research and strategy needs inspired a vital subset of deliverables to kickstart the innovation program’s next iteration—and future iterations to come. The team wanted a strategy to expand and build upon, not a static report destined to collect dust the following year. A “living” repository of knowledge, a technology forecast, and a detailed playbook to provide a lasting approach to business and innovation strategy would help ensure YVR’s success in setting a global standard.


A futurist approach for timeless innovation strategy.

We kicked off the project with intensive qualitative research. To capture real-time, authentic feedback from passengers, our team dispersed across YVR terminals for two days to conduct more than 100 intercept interviews. Connecting passengers—the primary segment of an international airport and central to its growth—were of particular interest. Insights were used to create meaningful traveler personas reflective of mindsets, not demographics. For wider strategy insights, we took a 360-perspective and interviewed 16 leaders across diverse YVR teams, from retail planning and land acquisition to security and C-suite executives.

To tackle how YVR might appropriate new tools and systems, our technologists proposed more than a snapshot of tech trends, calling out a lack of rigor in the repeatable innovation process. The team co-opted the “Foresight Framework” from futurist Amy Webb and the Future Today Institute. This approach helped us to distinguish actual trends from what’s just trendy, and recognize deeper human needs. A series of fringe sketches were created to study aspects of the airport experience wherein technology plays—or could play—a key role (and where it risks airport disruption). Our team used Webb’s rigorous evaluation system and future-test to determine the areas most critical to YVR’s innovation program: biometrics as identity, security through restraint, sensor fusion, and direct consumer content.

Illustration of passenger research conducted at Vancouver International Airport


An innovation program with dynamic tools for growth.

Teague’s partnership with YVR culminated in an innovation program with lasting, expandable components. An internal knowledge base was created as a “living” repository of information—a wiki-style tool designed to be easily and continuously updated as an integral part of the innovation program’s flywheel. To ideate passenger-centric solutions with realistic archetypes, the knowledge base included the translation of passenger feedback into six personas with corresponding pain-points, travel goals, and mindsets.

Illustration of Vancouver International Airport passenger personas

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The knowledge base also included our technology forecast, which yielded four key areas of focus: biometrics as identity, security through restraint, sensor fusion, and direct consumer content. Still relevant post-pandemic, these subjects advanced the narrative of YVR’s “preferred future.” We took our findings a step further by creating custom Google search topics as a way for YVR leadership to keep a finger on the pulse of any news, data, or other content related to the trends we deemed most important, as well as topics to monitor the following year.

Most immediately actionable of our deliverables was the YVR Innovation Playbook, in which we detailed recommendations and project opportunities to set in motion in 6 to 12 months. Like the knowledge base and technology forecast, however, the Playbook was also designed with long-term use in mind, outlining repeatable steps for business strategy, maintaining a useful knowledge base, and building an innovation roadmap.


A strategic partnership for competitive advantage.

YVR’s partnership with Teague was extended with a series of co-facilitated events and workshops to socialize the knowledge base and generate projects using its content. More importantly, to passenger experience and broader business strategy, people were genuinely heard. Passengers, employees across all levels of the organization—the innovation program incorporates the voices of all stakeholders and offers a common touchstone for YVR leadership to rally around. The innovation playbook provides stepping stones for continuous success by identifying opportunity areas for innovation, ideating around concepts for growth, prioritizing activities, and capturing outputs from innovation exercises to grow the knowledge base

Illustration of Vancouver International Airport innovation playbook
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YVR is an incredible brand that understands innovation is as much about anticipating the needs and experiences of the future as it is about breakthrough ideas.

Warren Schramm

Technical Director | Teague