Yesterday, I was at the Kotoka International Airport to pick my boss arriving from Toronto, Canada. There I met Mr. McLaw Gyamfi, Executive Director of Ghana International Model United Nations who was also there to pick someone; one of the delegates to the 2016 GIMUN Conference. While we waited for the flight, we talked about several things ranging from over-politicization of everything in Ghana to lack of innovative thinking in our Universities which are supposed to be bastions of thought, that's some interesting irony there.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight which was scheduled to land at 11;20 am finally touched down around 11:40 am thereabout and we had to get ready to meet our respective guests. It was the same flight with which both my boss and his guest were travelling. An interesting observation came to my mind and it triggered another conversation between us which brought forth a transformative idea.
Usually, if you go to the airport to pick up someone you don't know, there is a familiar thing you do; write the person's name boldly on a card or A4 paper (in landscape), stand in front of the arrival hall and hold it out. All you need to do is stand there with the card (name embossed on it) and hope that the other person once he emerges from the hall sees his name held up in front of him. If you do some due diligence by telling the person to look out for such and such characteristics, your hustle may be easier. But if you don't, for instance by writing a wrong name or standing at an obscure place or your handwriting is not legible enough, then your wait will be long.
Well, McLaw didn't know his guest in person and told him to look out for a GIMUN T-shirt. That was another way of making your 'pick up' identify you that I had never thought about.
Anyway! So upon hearing that he did not know the person he was picking up in person, it occurred to me how people usually do it (refer to third paragraph). Then the conversation began.
I remarked that I found it quite crude how people have to hold out cards bearing the names of people at the airport, especially the INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. He agreed and we mooted how that arrangement could be transformed.
Basically, set up booths at the entrance of the arrival halls. Name them with display lights - booth 1, booth 2, booth 3 etc. The booths should have comfortable seats, WiFi and drinks. If Alhassan is coming to pick Naomi, he should wait inside one of the booths, say Booth 1. At the booth, he should give his own details and those of the Naomi. There should then be display panels in the check-out rooms to tell Naomi that Alhassan is in Booth 1. When Naomi gets to booth 1, she only needs to tell the attendant the name of the person waiting to pick her and then the attendant will call up Alhassan.
This completely clears the place of people like Alhassan holding out cards and hoping that their Naomies will raise their heads high enough and cast their eyes widely and sharply enough to see the names embossed on the cards. Not least of all, it will give the place a good new look and create a few jobs.
It can be done, just the will to do it is needed. Good night.
Vice President (Research & Strategy), NERA