Faces of YWG: A vibrant personality travellers come to know at the parking gate

Upon leaving Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, a familiar face is often on duty, working to inject a little joy into each person’s day when they least expect it.

Kidaney Demissie works full-time at the cashier booth where travellers, visitors, hotel guests and airport employees exit the parking area at YWG. Each day, he demonstrates a special knack for turning parking transactions into memorable moments by striving to provide the highest level of customer service for every guest.

“It doesn’t cost anything to show people love,” said Demissie. “When you give them your heart, people are giving you their heart. I listen to them, I communicate with them and then I make them comfortable to come back again, to feel like home.”

While most people are looking to pay their parking and be on their way, Demissie’s enthusiastic demeanour and contagious energy can’t help but leave a lasting impression. While some have driven back to the airport to thank him or offer a tip, he’s also become a fixture who customers and staff alike look forward to seeing. Within a half hour window, frequent travellers recognize Demissie at the cashier booth and opt to drive up to pay-in person so they can say hello and enjoy a friendly exchange.

“Most travellers don’t know my name but they recognize me and come to say hi,” said Demissie. “Some don’t want to pay at the station. They want to talk to someone and when you joke with them, it makes them feel happy.”

During his shift, Demissie prefers to be outside the cashier booth to interact with as many visitors as he can and offer assistance if needed – even in the middle of a Winnipeg winter.

“When the weather is minus 100°C, you will see me outside,” said Demissie while laughing.

A big part of his job is helping every customer enjoy a stress-free parking experience as each interaction can be a little bit different. The parking system at YWG has to account for short-term and long-term visits, those who pre-book online, CAA member discounts, employee passes and more. Having hands-on assistance helps address any issues and supports the steady flow of traffic in and out of the airport parking lots to maximize availability for all guests.

“Some of our customers come from a long way away, for example, Kelowna, and we don’t want to tell them after they travel ‘It’s too full, we don’t have a space,’” said Demissie. “When they come here, they depend on us and we don’t want them to be disappointed.”

Demissie has been at the airport for more than six years and brings plenty of experience to the table. He’s worked in the parking industry ever since moving to Canada from Ethiopia 15 years ago and previously oversaw the parking lot at the Health Sciences Centre before being transferred to the airport. Today, he’s employed by Indigo, who manages parking services at YWG, and remains deeply connected to his work at the airport.

“What we build here at the airport, we build together,” said Demissie. “I contribute, everybody contributes, but we are building it for the next generation. We help develop the airport and the city to grow together.”

This is what he learned the first day he started working at the airport and it resonates with him still. Parking fees contribute to the Winnipeg Airports Authority’s revenues, which are reinvested back into the airport campus to serve the community.

As for Demissie, his efforts at the parking gate, engaging with every person, giving a wave or a smile or a kind send-off, continues to spark positive interactions and build valued customer relationships on a daily basis at YWG.

Faces of YWG is a profile series on the people working around Winnipeg Richardson International Airport who help the Winnipeg Airports Authority go above and beyond.

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