The airport is now less transitional, more experiential

This is a viewpoint from Nancy Knipp, SVP of 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 travelers for airports and airport lounges to stay ahead of the competition.

For example, experiences need to be localized to ensure that travelers 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, travelers 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. This shows a shift in mindset, and as a result, the expectations younger generations have when buying an airplane ticket.

Fun and functional

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’ traveler, 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’s IMAX theater and Denver International Airport’s yoga and meditation classes. Other airports and lounges are starting to provide services such as dry cleaning and dog sitting in an effort to make the airport an easy place to continue living life as usual.

Another example is in the Orlando International Airport, where The Club lounge features ‘Kid zones’ since so many families travel through the Orlando airport. This is all to create an atmosphere to enhance a person’s life, not interrupt it, as they are on their journey.

Local touches

In order to enhance people’s travel 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 at Pittsburgh International Airport, local chef Kate Romane consults on the menu, while a local photographer JP Diroll’s art adorns the walls.

Comfort zones

It is essential that lounges are able cater to the individual needs of travelers in this way. If the sometimes-daunting experience of air travel can be humanized, travelers will feel more comfortable and encouraged to travel. Not only then do lounges maximize the experience for the traveler, they also increase business to concessions, which drives airport revenue. If space is being fully utilized as a lounge, and it becomes a popular destination for travelers, then airports will be benefiting from the revenue made.

As traveler preferences evolve, airports and lounges must stay aware of them. They must provide experiences that easily integrate into, and enhance, the journey. If steps are taken to create unique, personalized experiences, then travelers as well as the airports will benefit.

This is a viewpoint from Nancy Knipp, SVP of Airport Lounge Development (ALD).

Opinions and views expressed by all guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of tnooz, its writers, or its partners.

Photograph courtesy of Denver International Airport.


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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.



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