By Caroline O’Reilly
The 2013 ACI-NA Concessions Conference wrapped up Wednesday with a session dedicated to the skills and strategies necessary for marketing world-class airport dining and retail programs. “There have been significant changes in marketing, and we’ve seen it at all of our airports,” said Ken Buchanan of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, who moderated a three-part panel discussion that captured the perspectives of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the Sacramento-based marketing firm Hiltachk Marketing Group.
For MSP’s Melissa Scovronski, a successful concessions marketing program requires commitment both to keeping track of metrics and strategically cultivating effective relationships. “Make sure you go out and find those people who have the same passion and enthusiasm that you have,” she said, emphasizing that strong cross-departmental relationships within the airport are especially important.
Similarly, the concessions returns that could yield from the re-purposing of existing resources or facilities—which could include anything from dormant advertising space to official social media channels—shouldn’t be underestimated. Sea-Tac’s music program is an ideal example of this concept. Several of the airport’s public-address announcements have been recorded by well-known musicians with strong Seattle ties, and live performances near concessions outlets have helped boost sales. “We’re giving passengers a little extra something that doesn’t cost them anything,” explained Sea-Tac’s Teri Kuiken. The increase in sales has a strong correlation to the relaxation and engagement that passengers have reported from their exposure to the program when in the terminal.
Ultimately, though, strong concessions result from the right mix of risk and reserve. “You see more and more airports taking on more and more risks in moving toward more non-aeronautical revenue,” DFW’s Buchanan said in closing. “But the shift from the traditional landlord-tenant model can be a win-win for everyone.”