Employees at London’s Heathrow Airport who are meant to assist passengers may just be there to increase sales, according to a new report.
An undercover report from BBC Channel 4 discovered that although Heathrow’s “Passenger Ambassadors” are advertised as a way to provide assistance to travelers, they start out each day with at least a £2,500 ($3,110) sales goal.
The airport employees 150 Passenger Ambassadors (identifiable by their purple uniforms) to assist travelers once they’ve passed through security.
“Whether you’re looking for flight information, directions or any kind of help with your journey, our team will get you quickly on your way,” the airport wrote on their website.
However, according to an undercover Dispatches reporter, Passenger Ambassadors are trained to talk to passengers, “persuading them to shop if they had not planned to, or encouraging them to spend more by talking to them about offers and promotions across the terminal.”
At the time of writing, airport officials had not yet seen the Dispatches report, which airs in the UK on Monday night. However, the airport defended the Passenger Ambassadors program to Telegraph Travel.
“Passenger Ambassadors are an important part of our business and we expect the team to put the needs of our passengers first,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Under independent Government regulation, the airport provides fantastic restaurants and stores in order to offset the cost of running the airport which ultimately keeps the cost of air fares down for passengers.”
Last year, the airport reported a record £612 million ($761.3 million) in rent from retailers and car parking charges. Heathrow does not charge a set fee for rent in the airport, rather receives a percentage from stores’ revenue.