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RETAIL/F&B Last modified on November 28, 2018

On the menu

HMSHost’s CEO, Steve Johnson, provides his thoughts on the type of F&B innovation required to excite and delight travellers in modern airports.

As we head towards 2019, there are key things everyone at HMSHost and many of our culinary colleagues can agree on. This is the fact that dining choices and quality have gained power over time and the term ‘foodie’ is not a fad.

Cities across North America continue to follow the trends of major metros like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles with flourishing food scenes and explosions of new food cultures in their restaurants. These trends are marked by resurgences of regional traditions and the imperative to create genuine culinary experiences.

As a global restaurateur, HMSHost works to transport that dining revolution from each city into the airport. Our transformation in food and beverage is also rapidly evolving alongside airports as they push to modernise at a global pace.

With these swift developments, HMSHost is tasked with developing the right mix of restaurants for travellers while also ensuring the right fit for various airport models from traditional master concessionaire to developer models and fractured terminals.

HMSHost is equipped to meet this challenge with a business and operations team that continues to adapt while leading dining trends for travellers and concentrating our efforts on innovation, sustainability, and exceptional guest service.

The pillars of excellence for innovation, sustainability and service have been shaped by today’s modern travellers that want to be empowered to choose every aspect of their dining experience.

This is why we focus on providing the choices they want including local fare, mindful options and convenient order and pay solutions that are paired up with beautiful restaurant design and modern amenities like charging stations to create an ‘oasis’ for the passenger.

With today’s technology advancements, people are accustomed to levels of convenience unheard of a few years ago. Processes like ordering and picking up food are advancing rapidly, so we offer options for a meal to be ordered either directly from our team, via the Host2Coast mobile app, from self-service kiosks, or from mobile point-of-sale solutions that move around the terminal to enable passengers to stay put while their food comes to them at the gate.

We see the future as a place where ordering food ahead of time on your mobile device will be as seamless as using a mobile boarding pass is today.

The ability to achieve business success while leading dining trends in various airports is also tied to the broader efforts over recent years that have helped create the elevated, and still expanding, airport dining environment. Dining in airports today is about an immersive, cultural experience that is focused on the opportunity to experience the local culture through food.


Currently this trend can be seen taking shape with the restaurants that HMSHost will open in Detroit Metropolitan International Airport. The culinary character of Detroit, for example, will be alive in the airport with Anita’s Kitchen Lebanese Café, which is the Southeast Michigan’s premier Middle Eastern restaurant; Cantoro Italian Market Trattoria, a storied family-owned and operated market and restaurant with a 40-plus year history in Detroit; and the Jolly Pumpkin Taphouse.

In the near future, these restaurants will transport travellers all around the city to places they may not have been able to see during their trip.

We know that passengers want these types of genuine culinary experiences because it adds immense value to their trip through the discovery of the charm and personality of a city. This trend is commonly referred to as ‘sense of place’ and, increasingly, HMSHost is creating restaurants that enhance the very definition of the trend with multi-sensory experiences that showcase the smells, flavours, and visual design elements of a city, region, and local brands.

The ability to eat local is important to travellers and within every airport there exists a unique opportunity to immerse passengers in the local food scene.


A great example of a food immersion concept is the forthcoming Boston Public Market in Boston Logan International Airport where passengers will have direct access to premier local products and vendors in a large food hall space.

The scale of Boston Public Market’s product and vendor line up is unparalleled in an airport and will serve as one of the foremost examples of a collaborative local dining project.

The availability of mindful choices is another massive movement for business success that HMSHost is driving with the wellness initiative, ‘Eat Well. Travel Further’. Offering healthful eating options in airports of all sizes is actually more than a trend, it is a necessity; it is a demand more travellers will make as awareness grows around food efficiency and the impact of the choices we all make every day.

‘Eat Well. Travel Further’ is a commitment to providing options for health-conscious travellers with wholesome ingredients, products, and flavours to fuel their journey. The initiative is bringing refreshing new options to market with culinary offerings like meal and snack lifestyle bento boxes such as the Paleo Lunch Box and the Protein Lunch box – all under 500 calories with no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners and no hydrogenated fats or high fructose corn syrup.

Additionally, one of the most powerful ways that we do business in airports is by working with nearly 100 exceptional Airport Concessionaire Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) partners. With this programme, HMSHost provides our partners with a platform and the resources to successfully implant local businesses into the intricate world of airport operations.

A full spectrum of ACDBE partnerships exists at HMSHost, ranging from joint venture agreements, sub-leased contract space, and supply chain contracts. Indeed, HMSHost’s ACDBE partners make up a significant portion of overall industry operations in North American airports, generating annual average revenues of over $3 million individually or more than $400 million altogether.


As a company greatly invested in the future of food, we are dedicated to working with partners across the industry to continue implementing innovations in airports including the ability to create the best local food hall in an airport terminal with Boston Public Market, introducing the next evolution of ‘Eat Well. Travel Further’ and implementing new technologies to improve operational and service efficiency.

HMSHost has developed creative offerings that stay on trend and keep our pillars of excellence in focus, while working within an ever-evolving airport business environment. There is a great deal of passion being poured into our business today in order to continue to set the bar for airports as dining destinations.

With this mindset, and the perpetual exploration of innovations that are revolutionising choice for travellers, we hope to continue to help all passengers feel good on the move.

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