Category Archives: Airport concessions

Switching from the Traditional Airport Concession Model Can Be a Win-Win

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.”

Puccini: Shake Up Airport Concessions with Creative Disruption

By Caroline O’Reilly
“Even though we’re here talking about food, we’re really talking about social activity,” said Bob Puccini, who delivered the keynote address Tuesday at the 2013 ACI-NA Airport Concessions Conference in Sacramento.  As the president and CEO of Puccini Group, which for nearly the past two decades has been the mastermind behind a wide range of successful bar and restaurant concepts, Bob Puccini knows firsthand that the secret ingredient to a robust concessions program is the promise of a memorable experience.

A 40-year veteran of the restaurant business, Puccini brought a unique perspective to the conference.  His early career included a stint in the early 1970s at San Diego International Airport’s Terminal 2, whose concessions program at the time was focused a single silverware-and-all restaurant.  He quickly discovered, though, that his strengths were best suited to start-up environments, especially those that encouraged creative disruption.  This preference today guides Puccini Group’s projects, and it was a mindset with which that Puccini recommended North American airports grow more comfortable as global competition for air travelers grows.

“In the U.S., we’re going to have to think about how we are going to creatively deal with our infrastructure,” Puccini said.  Public spaces like airports, with laws and regulations governing certain elements of their design, present specific parameters for fresh imagination.  But where some might see barriers, adventurous concessions programs should see opportunity.  As lifestyle signifiers, such as food and travel, continue to mushroom across media—especially social media and its emphasis on the visual and immediate—even the most infrequent flier likely has sophisticated expectations when it comes to airport dining and shopping options.

“What we’re really selling is experience, with food and beverage the price of admission,” Puccini emphasized.  And ultimately, often the most memorable experience is borne of the most unconventional thinking.

Collaboration Essential to Customer Service in Airports

By Christine Cusatis, Centerlines Editor
When it comes to customer service at airports, you could say it takes a village.

During a panel on Building Bridges for Customer Excellence, Pat Hogan, Minneapolis-St. Paul, said his airport utilizes a customer service action council to bring together the airport authority, airlines, concessionaires and service providers to jointly improve the customer experience. The council meets monthly to identify issues, develop action plans and review measured results.

In addition, customer service training is provided through an airport-wide effort to encourage employees to meet defined service standards.

“More than 1,600 people were trained in 2012,” Hogan said.

Dennis Tracy, Visit Jacksonville, echoed the importance of team efforts with an overview of the convention and visitors bureau’s joint marketing efforts with the Jacksonville Airport Authority.

“We are both in the same business, and that is to bring more people to Jacksonville,” he said.

Becky Huckaby, Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, provided a look into the Aviation Academy that was held as part of the 75th anniversary of McGhee Tyson Airport.

The four-night educational event provided community leaders and the media with transparent, “behind-the-scenes” access to the inner workings of the airport. Speakers included representatives from the airport authority, NSSA, TSA and FAA, among others.

Huckaby received extremely positive feedback after the event, which proved successful at building a stronger community network.

“It’s a way of opening people’s eyes,” she said.

Nashville Takes 2011 Griesbach Award

By Morgan Dye

Nashville International Airport wins 2011 Griesbach Award of Excellence

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) recognized Nashville International Airport as the Richard A. Griesbach Award of Excellence winner in the 2011 Airport Concessions Contest. Darrell D. Watson, Director of Properties, Louisville International Airport, was also recognized as ACI-NA’s Concessions “Person of the Year”.

Nashville’s concession program provides the opportunity for passengers and guests to taste and experience Nashville while at the airport. The program focuses on creating a travel experience that reflects the Music City’s diversity and hospitable spirit, while considering the impact of existing and  new security requirements on concessions and customer service convenience in the Terminal.

“Now in our fourteenth year of holding the Richard A. Griesbach Excellence in Airport Concessions Contest, ACI-NA congratulates Nashville as this year’s overall award of excellence winner,” said ACI-NA President Greg Principato. “These award-winning entries help promote the innovative spirit within the airport concessions industry as well

Darrel D. Watson receives 'Person of the Year' at 2011 ACI-NA Concessions Conference

as showcase the best programs in North America.”

Under Darrel Watson’s leadership, over the last two years Louisville International Airport has experienced higher revenues and increased levels of customer

satisfaction. Through his efforts, the airport has secured contracts for a new retail and food and beverage program, rental car and wireless internet concessions, and taken over management for a large cargo service building. Watson is an active participant with ACI-NA, American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and serves as president of the Kentucky Aviation Association.

“We are proud to honor Darrel Watson as this year’s ACI-NA Concessions ‘Person of the Year’,” said Principato. “Darrel’s enthusiasm and creative approach to the business of airports at Louisville International serves as an inspiration to his colleagues.”

The awards were announced during the 2011 ACI-NA Airport Concessions Conference in Atlanta, at which more than 350 representatives of the North American airport concessions industry are in attendance. The purpose of the ACI-NA Excellence in Airport Concessions Contest is to inspire creativity in the industry and to recognize innovative and outstanding airport concessions.  Under the continuing financial stress that airports experience, these awards help to demonstrate the importance of airport concessions.

This year’s contest received 150 nominations from airports of all sizes throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to the Greisbach award, 24 other awards were presented in the following categories:
Richard A. Griesbach Award of Excellence

  • Nashville International Airport

Concessions Person of the Year

  • Darrell D. Watson, Louisville International Airport

Best New Food and Beverage Concept

  • 1st Place: Surdyk’s Flights, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (operated by Surdyk’s Flights)
  • 2nd Place: Healthy Gourmet, John F. Kennedy International Airport (operated by Mar Air Foods)
  • 3rd Place: Burger Bar by Chef Allen, Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (operated by Delaware North Companies – Travel Hospitality Services)
  • Honorable Mention: URBANCRAVE, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (operated by SSP America)
  • Honorable Mention: Red Mango, Midway International Airport (Operated by Mac One Midway, LLC)

Best “Green” Concessions Practice or Concept

  • 1st Place: Recycling: Grease to Biofuel and Recycling: Cardboard Boxes, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (operated by Bradford Airport Logistics)
  • 2nd Place: Enroute Spa, Indianapolis International Airport (operated by Enroute Spa)
  • 3rd Place: Soundbalance, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (operated by Project Horizon)

Best New Retail Concept

  • 1st Place: U*Tique Shop, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Operated by Utique, Inc.)
  • 2nd Place: iStore, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport (operated by LS travel retail North America)
  • 3rd Place: Flip Flop Stop, Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (operated by Mercer retail Services, Inc.)

Best New Consumer Service Concept

  • 1st Place: Samsung Passenger Service Sponsorship, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (operated by Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC)
  • 2nd Place: Minute Suites, Philadelphia International Airport (operated by Minute Suites)
  • 3rd Place: XpresSpa, John F. Kennedy International Airport (operated by XpresSpa)

Best Food & Beverage Program

  • 1st Place: Newark Liberty International Airport – Terminal C
  • 2nd Place: Indianapolis International Airport
  • 3rd Place: Louisville International Airport
  • Honorable Mention: Boston-Logan International Airport – Terminal C

Best Convenience Retail Program

  • 1st Place: McCarran International Airport

Best Specialty Retail Program

  • 1st Place: Philadelphia International Airport – B/C Connector
  • 2nd Place: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – Concourse C Cart Program
  • 3rd Place: Louisville International Airport

Entries for this year’s contest were judged by an independent panel comprised of high-level professionals with no vested interest in concession operations, or the outcome of any one airport. In addition to the independent panel, one representative from the previous year’s overall winner was also involved in the judging process.

The ACI-NA Excellence in Concessions Contest, which began in 1998, honors the contributions of Richard A. Griesbach, a long-time industry professional in airport concession programs.  Greisbach’s influence on the commercial development of airports extended far beyond his employment with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The Concessions Person of the Year category was added in 2007.

Previous winners of the prestigious Griesbach Award of Excellence include:

2010 – Vancouver International Airport

2009 – John F. Kennedy International Airport─Terminal 5

2008 – Boston Logan International Airport

2007 – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

2006 – Memphis International Airport—Concourse B

2005 – Edmonton International Airport—Central Hall

2004 – LaGuardia Airport—Central Terminal Building

2003 – No winner

2002 – Philadelphia International Airport

2001 – Calgary International Airport

2000 – Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport

Star Power Shines Spotlight on Griesbach Winner

By Debby McElroy
Stars, politicians, literature, music, food, shopping and breathtaking anticipation over the industry’s highest awards!  Yes, all that and more was on tap at the ACI-NA Concessions Conference Award Luncheon on Tuesday in Atlanta.

For the last five years, I have heard about the great speakers and informative program, as well as the networking opportunities that make this meeting a “not to be missed” event for airports, concessionaires and consultants.  I was excited to attend my first Concessions Conference to see for myself what the buzz was all about.  And so far, it has been lived up to my high expectations, with a great keynote speech from Jerry Wilson, SVP and chief customer and commercial officer with The Coca- Cola Company and lots of really useful information on the state of the industry.

But what I was really looking forward to was the airports’ version of the Oscars, especially the announcement of the Richard A. Griesbach Excellence in Airports Concessions Award.

Nashville’s Rebecca Ramsey with the Griesbach Award and ACI-NA President Greg Principato and CNN’s Robin Meade.

Such an event deserves a fabulous MC and we had one! Robin Mead, star of HLN’s Morning Express”, which is also seen on CNN’s Airport Network from 6 to 10 AM, not only presented the awards but entertained the crowd with a great story about being the only journalist invited to accompany President George H.W. Bush on a tandem skydive to celebrate his 85th birthday.

Robin was clearly familiar with many of the airports celebrated at the luncheon and she complimented a number of the restaurants and shops, asking questions about new concepts that piqued her interest. She thanked Hudson News for carrying her book and joined the crowd’s enthusiastic response when Gerard Lim, Manager, concession leasing, from Vancouver Airport Authority announced that Nashville International Airport was the 2011 Griesbach winner.

Ironically Robin had just reported that earlier in the morning she asked her twitter followers for their favorite airport concession and the winner was Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge Bar at Nashville International Airport.  Reminding the crowd that Nashville Airport pipes music into their restrooms, she suggested that Rebecca Ramsey, assistant director of properties, who accepted the award for the airport, make sure that her CD (a copy of which was given to all luncheon attendees) is added to the airport playlist.

Congratulations to all of the winners and thanks to everyone attending the conference. Thanks also to all the men and women who work diligently to provide great retail options, as well as food and beverage services to passengers and other airport users.