Making of an airport hotel

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Airport hotels serve to the traveling public and therefore very different in its product offer. Indeed the concept development of an airport hotel is quite a task. It needs through knowledge of needs …

Airport hotels serve to the traveling public and therefore very different in its product offer. Indeed the concept development of an airport hotel is quite a task. It needs through knowledge of needs and demands of a traveler, what he may need and when. I this articles we discuss some broad planning considerations for an airport hotel

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  • 1. Making ofan AirportHotelPerhaps one of the most difficult part foranyone involved with creating a product profilefor a “niche specific” product is to visualize theultimate product in its totality. Airport hotels arevery unique products demanding inputs frombusiness, leisure and investment extensionelements tailored in a manner that speed ofservice delivery is enhanced withoutcompromising the quality. The problem is thatoften by the time a profile for a techbasedproduct is cast, discussed and agreed, it is timeto review it again as technology has trashed thatentire one that was agreed.
  • 2. Before one sits down to define a productprofile, three important factors have to be keptin mind, “who will use the product” , “what arethe expectations of the user” and what is thescope of applying the principles of “investmentextension” to generate additional revenue withmarginal addition capital infusion. Naturallyyour planning must address and satisfy all thesefactors, keeping always in mind “what ourcompetitors are offering” which adds achallenging dimension to the task.Basically, as the term suggests, an airport hotelis used by travelers, those who use the airportfor departing and arriving, those who transitthrough the city and require accommodationfrom as short as 4 to 6 hours to over a day, and,the airline crew both cabin and cockpit. It isimportant to mention all these segments as allhave different and specific demand on the
  • 3. product. There is yet another segment; someairport hotels also act as a filter to the city,filtering the traffic at the airport itself where theguests may stay for as long as three to four days.These are typically those hotels which have anactivity zone attached to it or in the closeproximity, like an international conventioncenter or an expo center.Another important aspectis the actual location ofthe hotel in relation to theairport. Is the hotellocated in the terminal building itself, is itattached to the airport with a direct walk way orit is in close proximity to the airport and can bereached within minutes drive from the airport.All these factors will act as a base to define theproduct profile.
  • 4. Airport hotels also derive their personalityfrom the nature of the airport they are on. Is it adestination airport or is it a transit hub? Hotelsthat are in or attached to the airport or within aclose proximity to it, are generally low risebuildings with a horizontal lay out. While thisgives rise to long walk to the rooms, it avoidsthe vertical transportation by elevators.Hotel SpacesAn airport hotel should ideally have a spaciouslobby with proportionately larger seating areathan in a city hotel. However care must be takento ensure that this area generates adequaterevenue by providing snacks and beverageservice. This also acts as a hold area for suddenarrival of hundreds of passengers on account ofcancelled or delayed flight and those waiting forthe declared check-in time to get their room
  • 5. assigned. Many hotels operate on a 24 hourcheck-in system but this can put additionalpressure on hotels wage bill as housekeepingstaff has to be available in odd shifts. It isadvisable for the hotel lobby to provide flightarrival, departure status either on properlypositioned TV screens or on an on-line flightstatus board linked to the airport system. Thoseinvolved with the planning of the hotel mustgive adequate consideration to requirements of aleft luggage or luggage hold area. As peoplestay for a short period, they may like to carryjust the overnighter to the room, leaving theheavy boxes with the bell desk. While thisaspect on one hand increases the storage spaceand security requirements, on the other thishelps in reducing load on bell services and wearand tear of carpets and walls.
  • 6. The check-in experience should be a smoothaffair with as little formality as would berequired by local law and hotel policy. Manyhotels have self check-in automats which recordall required details of the guest, assign the roomand issues the room key. A guest must be madeaware that on departure, unless he checks-outmanually or via the automat, his stay bill willcontinue to add room rent and charge it to hiscredit card.Rooms & SuitesSince an airport hotel caters to varioussegments of users, an ideal hotel will thereforehave a very wide offer of accommodationranging from normal rooms and suites to day-use rooms, family rooms with extra, normal orbunk beds, group lounges with individual setteecum beds, studio rooms, rooms with work cum
  • 7. sleep possibility and the list ends where ourimagination ends. The quality ofaccommodation, irrespective of its type assumesparamount importance as the guest arrives aftera long flight, tired, different time zone hencewith an unadjusted bio-clock, expecting a verysmooth and hassle free in room experience withhigh tech yet friendly operations of variousfacilities. The rooms have to be totally noisepollution free with capability of attaining totaldarkness for sound sleep even during the day.While the rooms of an airport hotel are nodifferent than the normal city hotel, it is high intechnology in security and billing aspect. Forexample the door lock may be biometric, videoenabled door bell, electronic safe with biometriclock, TV with pay channel, mini bar with directbilling to the guest folio, paid high speedinternet, to list a few. Hotels with express 4-
  • 8. hour laundry and dry cleaning service reporthigher revenues than the normal 24 hourservice. While most hotels provide an alarmclock in the room, care must be taken that theseclocks are electronic and not battery operated toensure correct time. A hotel can be held liablefor a guest missing his flight if the clock in the room displays wrong time. Restaurants, Bars and EntertainmentFacilitiesA well planned airport hotel must have a largebuffet restaurant serving international cuisine.The restaurant timings would ideally depend onthe operating hours of the airport. In addition tothis there should be at least one or two speciality
  • 9. cuisine fine dining restaurants. The bar shouldideally be a lounge bar where people in smallgroups could enjoy a drink. A well plannednight club or discotheque could complete thedining and entertainment offer of the hotel.It is observed that hotels with self dispensingautomates on each floor stocked with quick coldbites, bottled drinks and other eatables recordgood revenues during odd service hours.Automates also take some load off the otherwisebusy room service.Meetings and ConferenceFacilitiesAirport hotels in transit hubs could do verywell with a battery of conference and meetingrooms backed up with a well equipped businesscentre. Travelling executives could utilize their
  • 10. transit time in conducting business meetings.Cities like Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam andSingapore, to name a few are examples of besttransit hubs.Recreational FacilitiesIn terms of leisure or recreation facilities, thereis a mixed view from theprofitability angle.However hotels with agym, sauna, Turkish andmassage facilities doquite well in transit locations where people wantto utilize the short time available to them andget rejuvenated for the next lag of the trip.An airport hotel must plan for a small kioskopen round the clock with items generallyrequired by a traveler, genera across the countermedicines and souvenirs.
  • 11. At the end of the day, Airport hotels enjoygood volume utilization for most periods in ayear. Investment in an airport hotel also offersinvestment extension possibilities in relatedareas like on board catering services, loungemanagement and onsite food and beverageoperations.Ram Gupta is a professional consultant withspecialization in hospitality. He has over fourdecades of experience in Asia, Far East, MiddleEast and Europe. He has been associated withover two dozen luxury hotel projects and anumber of state of art wellness centers and spas.His web site can be viewed at and can be contactedat JULY, 2012 © BCG GLOBAL