New ideas, good customer service and affordable prices, for me, are key to providing a favourable retail and F&B experience at an airport.
True, we all like the “comfort” of finding brands that we know and love in the terminal, and whether that means McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC or Armani, Chanel or Breitling depends entirely on the individual.
However, in my opinion, it is always more exciting to find something new, unexpected or unique when looking for somewhere to eat or shop as such places often help create a sense of place and make for a more memorable experience.
And, the good news is that an increasing number of airports appear to recognise the importance of including something a little bit different in their retail and F&B offerings to ‘wow’ customers, boost non-aeronautical revenues and make themselves stand out from the crowd.
For some, this daring to be different has meant opening celebrity chef endorsed restaurants. The list includes Toronto Pearson (Massimo Capra), London Gatwick (Jamie Oliver), LAX (Wolfgang Puck), Pittsburgh (Michael Symon) and New York JFK (Todd English).
Some have recreated popular downtown outlets onsite such as Legal Sea Foods at Boston Logan; Harrods at London Heathrow or The Varsity at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.
While for others it has meant making the most of their location through sense of place initiatives such as Zurich Airport’s Lindt chocolate shop; the French department store themed concept behind Paris CDG’s new duty free area; the ‘House of Tulips’ at Amsterdam Schiphol; the Airbräu micro-brewery and pub at Munich Airport; slot machines at Las Vegas–McCarran or London City Airport’s use of bowler hat shaped lampshades!
There is also no doubt that customer service levels have cranked up to another level since the “can’t be bothered” days of the late 1980s and early 1990s, although in my opinion, they could get even better if concessionaires did more to hang on to staff that go the extra mile.
Yep, airport retail and F&B ain’t what it used to be, and neither are most of the services – and in some cases facilities – provided by other concessionaires such as car park operators, transport companies and hoteliers who have also upped their game to make themselves more appealing.
In fact, I was reminded of just how things have changed for the better on a visit to Singapore Changi earlier this year, when I found that I didn’t have enough time to do all the things I had planned to do during my six hour layover!
For those of you who don’t know the airport, in addition to its many shops and restaurants, my options to while away a few hours included the chance to admire some stylish art, go swimming, visit some gardens (butterfly, cactus and orchid), being serenaded by a pianist playing a grand piano or even going to the movies.
It was all a long way from my experience at one Italian airport back in 1990 when, apart from a limited selection of shops on offer, I was charged today’s equivalent of an extortionate €65 for five burgers (no fries included) and six soft drinks.
Luckily, such massively inflated prices are quite rare these days, although I do think that many airports still charge a little too much for basic retail and F&B offerings, and wonder if their sales figures would be higher if they were to lower them.
In this issue:
Vienna International Airport’s impressive new terminal was more than 10 years in the making, but its COO, Julian Jäger, believes it was worth the wait, writes Steven Thompson.
Ready for lift off
Dan McCue discovers that making Houston’s airports more operationally efficient, customer friendly and fit for space travel are all in a day’s work for director of aviation, Mario Diaz.
View from the top
ACI director general, Angela Gittens reflects on the importance of non-aeronautical revenues and looks forward to the first major event of 2013, The Trinity Forum.
Every little helps
Pop-up retail, virtual stores and vending machines are just some of the ways airports are making maximum use of the available commercial space in their terminals, write Joe Bates.
In the money
ACI’s 2011 Airport Economics Survey reveals that non-aeronautical income accounts for 46.5% of global airport revenues.
Next in store
Abu Dhabi Duty Free’s Daniel Cappell talks to Oliver Clark about the role of social media, 30,000 hours of staff training and the importance of the upcoming Midfield Terminal Complex for retail sales.
Benet Wilson catches up with some of the winners in ACI-NA’s 2012 Richard A Griesbach Excellence in Airport Concessions Contest.
Boosting retail revenues
DKMA’s James Ingram provides a one-year report on ACI’s ASQ Retail initiative and outlines four things you should know about how passengers shop at airports.
Food for thought
HMSHost’s Joe Waller reflects on the importance of embracing innovation, listening to customers and moving with the times for today’s airport F&B operator.
Sponsorship, going interactive and digital signage are some of the hottest new trends in airport advertising, writes Steven Thompson.
Park and fly
What are the world’s airports doing in terms of car parking initiatives? Nicole Nelson investigates.
Bed and board
Stephen Vaughan finds out more about the business plans behind the planning, development and operation of airport hotels.
AIRMALL USA’s president, Mark Knight, provides his thoughts on what’s hot and what’s not in retail and F&B offerings at US airports.
On cloud 10
Sergio Pulla discusses Toronto Pearson’s rebrand and its pioneering sponsorship package with American Express.
Joe Bates discovers more about the leadership challenges facing airports as the industry moves forward, business models evolve and the current generation of bosses begin to retire.
Organisers Dr Richard Plenty and Terri Morrissey report on some of the highlights of October’s Airport Leadership and Change Management Forum in London.
Culture and function
Architect, Matt Honegger, reflects on the continued transformation of airports into multi-faceted facilities designed to meet ever-changing customer demands and business requirements.
Country profile: Cambodia.
ACI’s World Business Partners
The last word
SSP CEO, Andrew Lynch, discusses all things F&B with Airport World.
ACI traffic trends