As we enter spring and are still feeling the cold, summer may feel a long way off, but airport retailers (all retailers for that matter) will be deep into their summer preparation.
With the number of developments we are seeing and the amount of expanded routes being confirmed; airports are experiencing increased passenger volumes all year round – UK’s Heathrow and Gatwick both reported record passenger traffic in January this year! With the summer months typically the busiest time for airports; with school holidays driving individuals to travel and find some sun, footfall can be expected to increase further in coming months!
Along with school holidays and frequently the best weather in Europe encouraging individuals to travel, often, major sports tournaments take place during summer months which also ramps up passenger numbers. Countries hosting major tournaments can expect an influx of passenger traffic, to give an example; flights booked to London during the Olympic period in 2012 rose by 13 per cent. Retailers need to plan for these events; considering marketing campaigns, stock-levels and additional staff to make sure they are appealing to the anticipated fans and also prepared for increased footfall so that the guest experience isn’t compromised.
Seasonal, experiential brands will be coming to airports to take advantage of the summer months and holidaymakers. Pop up commercialisation units and events will be planned to change the airport ‘procedure’ into an ‘experience’. It has been said, ‘airports are shopping centres with runways’, so the guest experience is just as important as it is in a centre or retail store. With guaranteed footfall, airports have a great opportunity to achieve impressive sales figures so they will be investing in creating an experience for passengers to entice them in-store and to increase dwell time.
With the increased volume of passengers, all aspects of airport management will be under pressure; security; operations; facilities; the list goes on. Many airports will be investing in additional training to upskill team members to deal with the demand.
Leeds Bradford Airport announced in their press release earlier this year that around 300 jobs will become available this summer to work across a variety of roles. This will ensure the passenger experience is not jeopardised due to the increased volume of passengers expected.
There is a clear focus on guest experience in airports, meaning all operations need to run as quickly and smoothly as possible to ensure, regardless of the number of people, each passenger has an enjoyable experience. Not only that, the quicker passengers can get through check-in and security, the better their experience will be and the more time they have to spend in the retail and F&B environment – ultimately increasing retail sales and the over all airport asset and business value.
Katrina Whitehead, Marketing Executive, Foundation Recruitment