Airports as Destinations: The Rise of User Experience

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The line between airports and the destinations they serve has blurred. Once regarded as purely utilitarian infrastructure, airports are now becoming more integrated with their surroundings and hosting …

The line between airports and the destinations they serve has blurred. Once regarded as purely utilitarian infrastructure, airports are now becoming more integrated with their surroundings and hosting new experiences for passengers and non- passengers alike.

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  • 1. Airports as Destinations: The Rise of User Experience The line between airports and the destina- tions they serve has blurred. Once re- garded as purely utilitarian infrastructure, airports are now becoming more integrated with their surroundings and hosting new experiences for passengers and non- passengers alike. SKIFT REPORT #2 2013 SKIFT.COM
  • 2. Get the twice-monthly Skift Trends Report for the latest intelligence on the travel industry. Each edition in our new series of reports will brief you on a specific trend, providing insight into the current state of the market, the con- text around the trend, and where the industry is heading in the near future. After you subscribe, you will receive 24 reports direct to your inbox for an entire year. Reports are delivered as a downloadable PDF. Subscrib- ers also receive access to our archive. For any comments or questions, email us: trends@skift.com. Subscribe and check previous reports at skift.com/travel-trends. Subscribe to the Skift Trends Report
  • 3. If your last visit to an airport was over ten years ago, you would never think that you could go to one for fine art galleries, unique restaurants run by celebrity chefs, rock concerts, a night of dancing, or even a wedding. Airports are by nature massive, stressful, and confusing places. They are classic examples of what French anthropologist Marc Augé calls1 “non-places” — environments that one passes through, but don’t interact with. Places that do not have the significance of a sense of place. A terminal in Paris looks and feels identical to one in Beirut, and the primary business at hand is getting out. Popular culture, espe- cially stand-up comics, reinforce the notion that airports are feature- less, irritating places. But in just the past decade, the way that we think of airports has changed dramatically. Airports, especially in Asia and the Middle East, are more integrated into the fabric of cities. Airports now host civic events and entertainment as well as layovers and business meetings. Airports are becoming more contextualized and reflective of the lo- cal environment. Cities themselves are even building and planning around air travel accessibility. Airports aren’t just becoming friendlier and more integrated with destinations. They are becoming destinations themselves. Many busi- ness travelers find themselves in cities with no time to battle through traffic to reach downtown, so they seek solutions closer to the airport. This is happening whether or not airport operators, hotels, and con- cessioners are prepared to take advantage of it. Introduction Observation Deck at Incheon Airport Courtesy: Gensler Airports as Destinations: The Rise of User Experience SKIFT REPORT #2 2013 4
  • 4. Table of contents About Skift Skift is a travel intel- ligence company that services to professionals in travel and professional travelers, to help them make smart decisions about travel. Skift is the business of travel. Visit skift.com for more. Executive summary 3 Introduction 4 Airports as Destinations: The Rise of User Experience 6 Behind the transformation 6 Why American airports lag 6 Generating revenue beyond the runway 7 Selling goods to a captive market 8 9 Making ground connections easier 10 11 Amenities: Thinking further outside of the box 12 Trend-setting features and promotions 13 14 Technology for information and seamless shopping 15 Planning cities around airports 18 Building a global hub — Q&A with Akbar Al Baker 21 Actionable insights 23 Endnotes 24 About Skift 26 Airports as Destinations: The Rise of User Experience SKIFT REPORT #2 2013 5