June 14th, 2012
Who would have thought that an airport, of all places, would set out to create this little corner of sanctuary where travellers, from all over the world, could drop by and leave with something possibly inspirational?
But what is even more incomprehensible is how its creation was sparked by ideas and suggestions from members of an online community, jointly created by Finnair and Helsinki Airport through an initiative named Quality Hunters.
A little history: How it became…
Code-named #qhbookswap, a Twitter hashtag denoting the “Quality Hunters Book Swap” idea, it was one of the many ideas devised through countless discussions with the Quality Hunters community, and all of which were put through a voting session opened to all on both Facebook and Twitter.
Many voted for this idea, which eventually got shortlisted (along with a few others) and chosen by Helsinki Airport as a project to promote passenger experience innovation (presently, this is not the only one).
Earlier this year, work began on making the #qhbookswap a reality — and, once again, the Quality Hunters community was invited to submit their ideas, comments and arguments in its creation. This time, the combination of Twitter and Pinterest were used to facilitate the somewhat-tedious task.
Opening day finally arrives
At 10am on June 13, 2012, the Helsinki Airport Book Swap was officially open to all passengers on air-side. Located on the second floor, next to Gate 27 in Terminal 2, it’s a little space which will house a broad range of books made only possible by random visitors.
I was actually hoping to get a glimpse of the Book Swap while visiting Helsinki in late-May, but had just missed it by two weeks! Fortunately, my friend John Walton, of AusBT fame, was there to take in the festivities on my behalf.
As the name suggests, it’s all about swapping books. Passengers visiting the establishment simply needs to leave a book that they are happy to part with, and pick a replacement from the many available in and around the Book Swap.
A set of “golden rules” have been created for the Book Swap, and here it is — in a nice, big frame:
There’s also a label that goes on the inside cover of any book that makes residence at the Book Swap at any point. It identifies a book as having been, plus encouraging its new owner/s to share with everyone where it has been, and with whom:
The passage of time should make the Book Swap an interesting point-of-interest for any passenger passing through Helsinki Airport to visit again and again, given how its library of books is never the same at any one time.
The Quality Hunters Experience
Before UXmilk became part of this world, yours truly was one of the members actively involved with the Quality Hunters initiative, an experience which will forever be etched in the back of my mind.
(You can read up more about the Quality Hunters project here.)
Much was discussed on an almost-daily basis, typically on a broad range of topics relating to the different elements of air travel, an area which I now write about and offer commentary on. But the focus was always on identifying possible innovative elements from current real-life examples, all performed through the open channel of Twitter.
Although the Quality Hunters project was completed late last year, the initiative has remained an ongoing one. The same online community, which participated in the project, has since become self-sustaining, specifically where members are now conversing amongst themselves, as well as with other users that share a similar interest. But what’s amazing is how the virtual community is still very much there, although engagement may not be as frequent as it were before.
My best wishes to the Helsinki Airport Book Swap, and hoping that I will be able to pay a visit in the not-too-distant future, and doing my part in swapping-out a fun and interesting read of my own.