Written by Nancy Knipp, SVP, Airport Lounge Development (ALD)
Always-connected, highly-mobile millennials are forging new norms for leisure and business travel, making the use of technology and the focus on unique experiences the hallmarks of their travel habits. It is important to understand the changing needs of these travellers for airports and airport lounges to stay ahead of the competition. For example, experiences need to be localized to ensure that travellers can get a taste of their destination without leaving the airport. As a result, airports, and lounges within them, are evolving to meet these preferences, providing more personalized experiences and developing micro-communities where people can feel a sense of place and have the ability to work, relax or be entertained.
In the past, travellers were content with an airport being the transition space between the airplane and the destination. Now, people crave an exciting and valuable experience during every step of their journey. A generational study found that 38% of millennials consider themselves to be “explorers” rather than tourists, compared to 30% of Gen Xers and 24% of Baby Boomers, which demonstrates the shift in mindset and, as a result, the expectations of younger generations when buying an airplane ticket.
Because of this shift, experiential trends are on the rise in airports and airport lounges, and we are now seeing more entertainment, technology, food and beverage, and health options made available. Airports are working hard to meet the needs of the “bleisure” traveller, someone who wants a mix of business and leisure out of their travel experience. People want the ability to be productive and have fun at the same time. Examples include Hong Kong International Airport, which features an IMAX theater, and Denver International Airport, which offers yoga and meditation classes. Other airports and lounges are starting to provide services like dry cleaning and dog sitting in an effort to make the airport an easy place to continue living life as usual. Another example is Orlando International Airport where The Club lounge features “kid zones” to meet the needs of the many families travelling through the Orlando airport. These features create an atmosphere to enhance a person’s life, and not interrupt it, on their journey.
In order to enhance the traveller’s journey, it is important for airports to use airport lounges to develop micro-communities and give people a mini-experience of the city that the lounge is located in. For example, at The Club in the Pittsburgh International Airport, local chef Kate Romane consults on the menu, while local photographer JP Diroll’s art adorns the walls. It is essential that lounges are able cater to the individual needs of travellers in this way. If the sometimes-daunting experience of air travel can be humanized, travellers will feel more comfortable and encouraged to travel. Lounges then not only maximize the experience for the traveller but also increase business to concessions, which drives airport revenue. If space within the airport is being fully utilized as a lounge, and it becomes a popular destination for travellers, then airports will benefit from the revenue made.
Evolving traveller preferences will need to be identified to provide experiences that easily integrate into, and enhance, the traveller’s journey. If steps are taken to create unique personalized experiences, then travellers as well as airports will stand to benefit.
The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.