From Amenity Creep to Luxury Leap: Airports are Getting an Upgrade
The well-documented amenity creep phenomenon puts pressure on owners/operators to provide best-in-class amenities and experiences to CRE tenants. The principle is simple: once an amenity is introduced, competitors begin to offer the same services or goods. As a result, what was once a superfluous perk soon becomes an expectation, leading to an ever-expanding base of luxury amenities that tenants expect to see when considering their residential or business options.
Take this concept and tie in a shifting emphasis on experience-based indulgence among consumers, and it’s no wonder that airports are now on the front lines of a battle to be the best. From goods and services offered to ambience and architecture, traveler perceptions and expectations are putting pressure on airports to attain world-class standing among an increasingly global and comfort-oriented society. This pressure is prompting airports to address the gap between yesterday’s status quo and the luxury-focused amenities of tomorrow.
So, how are airports evolving to meet this new standard? Read ahead to find out what types of upgrades make an airport stand out as luxury environments amidst increasing competition and rising expectations.
Luxury Brand Retail Tenants
More luxury brands are drawn to airports than ever before, bringing with them a distinct shift in traveler experience. Luxury sales in airports grew by 7% in 2018, demonstrating a potential trend toward further expansion. These brands are drawn to airports for a few reasons. First of all, a majority of travelers are prosperous, have ample disposable income, and fit the target profile of a sophisticated and influential luxury goods buyer. Secondly, travelers are restricted to remaining in the airport with forced “downtime” (often referred to as “the golden hour”) and not many entertainment options, resulting in a captive audience prime for targeting.
Lastly, recent enhancements geared toward offering an overall more upscale experience, such as stylistic upgrades and high-class amenities, fittingly create an ambience of aspiration. With luxury retailers in a bid for airport property, these retail spaces become more competitive, and more lucrative for owners/operators.
Upscale Services and Entertainment
We have all experienced a dreaded layover, dozing off in uncomfortable terminal chairs, or looking for somewhere to freshen up or charge a cell phone. Well, such experiences are becoming a thing of the past thanks to competition in this sector. On an international scale, many airports offer services such as modules to rent on an hourly basis that provide travelers with a space to rest, laundry facilities, gyms, and more. Airport lounges are also having their moment, with luxury amenities including movie theaters, swimming pools, game rooms, golf simulators, nap pods, chef-prepared buffets, saunas, rooftop bars, wine cellars with sommeliers, cigar bars, private suites with bed and bath, and more. And top performing airports are consistently rated the highest in traveler satisfaction by providing best-in-class experiences like butterfly gardens, free walk-in-walk-out movies that play 24/7, spas, fresh local goods, and even free-roaming therapy animals.
These measures may seem excessive, but they drive traffic and keep airports profitable. Many of these services are also increasingly available to basic economy travelers rather than being bundled into first-class ticket packages, making these add-ons an easy upsell to weary travelers. Flexible space can accommodate many of these offerings, leaving it to tenants to customize and optimize spaces to suit their individual businesses.
Visually Stimulating Architecture
A city’s airport is more than just a travel hub. Airports often represent the identity of the cities and regions they are situated in and are a source of pride and culture. International airports in particular offer a glimpse into the values and national identity expressed by local people and governments. As such, many airports are now hiring the world’s top architects to embody this character through expressive design. It’s not enough that spaces be functional – they must now also make a statement to travelers through memorable presentation. The look and feel of a space are factors in overall traveler satisfaction and can lead to repeat bookings and positive reviews from travel bloggers that bring more people and capital through the same airports again and again.
Visually appealing architecture and flexible spaces provide the catalyst for luxury adaptations in modern airports by allowing tenants to provide luxury goods and services in an environment that meets the shifting expectations of travelers. Taking the luxury leap by enhancing existing spaces to meet these expectations creates a world-class experience that will continue to attract travelers for years to come.
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