Schiphol Airport's on Crisis Management: Lessons in Adaptability and Resilience

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth – Mike Tyson”

This blog is the wrap-up from a roundtable session with Schiphol's press team and is written using their perspective and experiences. All of Schiphol’s internal and external communications are a broader joint effort from multiple teams. 

Schiphol crisis case blog post

In the summer of 2022, Schiphol Airport faced a daunting challenge when a short-term crisis transformed into a prolonged issue. In this reflective blog post, we share the experiences of Schiphol's press team as they navigated the storm and emerged stronger and more resilient.

While corporate communication departments are well-equipped to handle short-term crises, managing a situation that persists demands a different approach. Schiphol found itself at the epicentre of media attention due to long queues caused by a shortage of security staff and a surge in travellers. The challenge was not just about crisis resolution but also about continuous adaptation.



Schiphol's Queuing Quandary

During the May Holidays of 2022, Schiphol Airport faced an unprecedented situation. Travellers, eager for post-COVID vacations, were met with unexpectedly long security queues, sometimes forcing them to wait outdoors during peak periods. This scenario garnered extensive media coverage, putting immense pressure on Schiphol's press team.


Lessons Learned: 

Data-Driven Communication

Schiphol's press team quickly realized the power of data-driven communication. By leveraging insights from social media, customer inquiries, and press requests, they addressed key concerns promptly. Questions about arrival times, missed flights, and queue predictions were met with proactive measures, including press releases and a live blog providing real-time updates.

Centralizing Communication Efforts

A pivotal change was centralizing communication through a dedicated newsroom and live blog. By offering immediate, accurate information and preemptively answering common questions, Schiphol reduced incoming media inquiries significantly. This streamlined approach allowed the team to focus on delivering timely updates to both travellers and journalists.

Team Reorganization and Resilience

Managing a prolonged crisis required reorganizing the team. Schiphol implemented weekend-only shifts, providing team members with essential downtime to recharge. For the team, maintaining team morale and personal connections proved crucial. Finding moments of levity amidst the crisis helped the team cope with stress and foster stronger bonds.

Product Spotlight


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With Presspage, your newsroom becomes the hub of press-related activities. For Schiphol, this is where the live news blog was featured. The team utilized data and insights within the Presspage platform to shape their daily messages and updates. By proactively tailoring their messaging based on data, they experienced a notable decrease in incoming press inquiries and articles containing live blog updates were featured in the media without the need for direct engagement with journalists.

Clichés and Realities

Despite their efforts, Schiphol's press team encountered communication clichés. Media coverage tended to emphasize the public impact while overlooking the diligent work of the airport staff. Schiphol learned the importance of continuous communication and introspection, recognizing the need for ongoing improvement, even in the face of persistent challenges.

In Conclusion: Navigating Prolonged Challenges


Schiphol Airport's journey offers valuable insights into managing long-term crises effectively. Embracing data-driven communication, centralizing messaging, fostering team resilience, and acknowledging communication nuances are invaluable lessons. This experience reaffirms that, in crisis management, adaptability and proactive communication are indispensable. As we conclude this exploration of Schiphol's crisis management, it is evident that a well-informed, agile team can overcome even the most enduring challenges with determination and resilience.

Remember, digital PR software serves as a valuable support tool, but it's important to note that it isn't the solution. In saying this however, the last thing you need in a crisis is a system that malfunctions or requires excessive time, or a newsroom that becomes overwhelmed and goes offline - so choose your tech wisely!

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