STHM alumnus embodies customer service at Atlanta’s airport

By Lora Strum on October 13, 2015

Mayers STHMFor Steve Mayers, successful management of the world’s busiest airport comes down to customer service. The director of customer relations at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Mayers views the airport’s nearly 100 million passengers as his guests, and seeks to unite airlines, airport vendors, and local businesses to create the ultimate traveler experience.

A graduate of the Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), Mayers honed the investigative tools needed to launch Hartsfield-Jackson’s successful ONE ATL campaign while working closely as an undergraduate with STHM Associate Dean Dr. Elizabeth H. Barber .

ONE ATL links airlines, Atlanta’s tourism industry, airport businesses, and staff in pursuit of optimum customer service. Mayers wanted to turn the 70 million passengers connecting through Hartsfield-Jackson into overnight guests who provide benefit to Atlanta’s tourism industry. He also works with airlines facing delays or cancellations to provide for customers facing dissatisfying circumstances.

“My job is to be the eyes and ears of guests at the airport. We transition these people from terminals to customers wanting to stay over and return to Atlanta,” Mayers said. “The airport is the driver.

He credited the real-world focus of STHM’s undergraduate curriculum with helping him develop his vision for management. Mayers singled out STHM Associate Vice Dean Jeffrey Montague for helping develop his approach to STHM’s senior seminar course. Montague’s emphasis on effective navigation of a diverse business world and even more diverse populace, Mayers said, helps him every day as he manages expectations for international passengers, airlines, young travelers, and the Atlanta tourism industry.

“Temple gave me an edge. The curriculum itself made it so easy to transition from school to a career,” Mayers said. “The real-life situations I’m placed into, I learned about at Temple. When you have the information you need to make good management decisions, you’re not using emotions, just hard facts. This has helped me in my career multiple times.”

Originally from Antigua, a small island nation in the Caribbean region, Mayers grew up in a setting surrounded by the tourism industry. His time at STHM only reinforced and refined his career goals, he said.

Mentioning the “psychological drain” of travelling, Mayers said, emphasizes the necessity of kindness and approaching each traveler as a person first. In reaching his younger customers, Mayers acknowledged that those 35 years or younger don’t want to have face-time with customer service or security staff. They instead want to check in using smartphones, he said. Though Hartsfield-Jackson and the Transportation Security Administration aren’t quite there yet, Mayers listens to their concerns.

“It’s not just about marketing, but improving the overall experience,” Mayers said.

After nearly 20 years in the industry, Mayers counsels new professionals to distinguish themselves from their peers and always work in a field they love.

“I think that I will be happy and healthy in whatever job I am doing,” Mayers said. “Without a positive attitude, helping others and maintaining your brand, you will not get anywhere.”

–Lora Strum

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