Last year terminal concession revenues from retail, food & beverage, and services totaled $1.5 Billion, or over 20% of all non-aeronautical revenue at U.S. airports, according to ACI-NA’s 2013 Airport Concessions Benchmarking Survey. Passenger spend on airport concessions has been slowly inching up each year, but not in-line with the cost and effort airports and airlines are funneling in to terminal retrofitting and redesigns. So what’s the best bang for your buck when it comes to IT investments that will improve the airport experience?
FlightView Flight-In-Sight! Display at Tampa International Airport
Over the past few years, a top driver for airport IT spend has been improving the passenger experience, and one of the investments Tampa International Airport made was to put flight information displays in their concessions areas, at specific gates, and throughout their terminals. Tampa’s travelers can view Flight-In-Sight! flight tracking displays at gates for an accurate look at the location of an incoming flight, plus live weather map displays placed throughout the terminals give a heads up on any weather that might affect travel plans. Following various terminal upgrades including the installation of digital flight and weather displays, Tampa’s Director of Airport Concessions saw a 10% year-over-year growth in airside concession revenue.
A recent survey from SITA showed a direct relationship between traveler stress level and retail spend: an extra 10 minutes in the security area amounted to 30% less spend at airport retail. During the busiest travel times (one of which is upon us) lines at airport bottlenecks are bound to be long, even with good passenger management planning. Strategic IT investments can help airports work around these known obstacles. Mastering Airport Retail cites “time to gate communication” – like introducing flight information panels inside airport stores – as a key success factor to keep passengers shopping or dining longer instead of rushing back to the gate area to check flight status. The data transparency alleviates passenger anxiety levels since they can accurately gauge how much time they have to spend shopping or dining before their flight will board and feel more in control over a stressful situation. By keeping passengers in the know with real-time flight and weather tracking, you become a trusted source of valuable, timely information. An added benefit is that you provide an entertaining focal point and a way to pass time, making for a more pleasant airport experience and lasting impression of great customer service.