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AVIATION SOLUTIONS
C R E AT I N G
SENSE OF PLACE
IN TODAY’S AIRPORTS
2 | 2015 AVIATION THOUGHT LEADERSHIP | VOLUME 2 | SENSE OF PLACE
Introduction
Globally, the number of trips taken by plane is expected to
more than double, from 6.3 billion in 2013 to approximately
13 billion in 2030.1
More and more travelers are passing
through airports every day, bringing increased opportunities
for revenue growth. In an attempt to enhance the traveler’s
overall experience, generate additional non-flight revenue,
and promote the local economy, many airports are striving to
enhance the traveler experience by creating a “sense of place”
– a unique combination of environmental characteristics
designed to connect passengers not only to the airport, but
also to that airport’s distinctive geographic location and
culture.
Airports are gateways to countries, regions and cities. They
are vital components of the conveyance of sense of place, and
they have the ability to create unique arrival and departure
experiences that connect the airport to the local region and
to its community. The incorporation of sense of place in the
built environment and as part of the airport amenities can
welcome travelers, and create interest in the unique offerings
of the surrounding region.
This paper will define “sense of place,” and explain how creating
a “sense of place” in the airport environment can better meet
the needs and expectations of today’s travelers. Specific
examples of how today’s airports are creating a “sense
of place” will be provided, and the role of technology and
infrastructure in facilitating an enhanced traveler experience
will be discussed. Finally, benefits of a “sense of place” – to
airports, airlines, passengers, and local economies – will be
described.
“The first impression is vital in shaping
the opinion of a city on arrival. The
airport is the first, and last, impression
a traveler experiences, and that should
be a heart-warming experience.”
- Kam Jandu, Budapest Airport’s
Chief Commercial Officer2
The addition of any (or all) of these types of experiences and
amenities is an unquestionably large undertaking; however,
today’s travelers increasingly expect sense of place to be
incorporated into their airport experience. The majority (81%)
of travelers agree that “to encourage people to increase
time spent at the airport, airports will need to become an
immersive space that enables interaction with multiple
cultures and evokes the local culture, architecture, ecology,
biology, commerce and worldviews.”4
Before examining
specific ways in which airports are enhancing their sense of
place, it is essential to better understand the unique needs
and expectations of today’s airline travelers.
At the same time, passengers increasingly expect their travel
experience to be seamless, stress-free, and comfortable. In a
recent survey of travelers, 62% of those surveyed reported
that convenience was a top priority, 22% indicated that
cost was their first priority, and 15% chose comfort as their
number one priority.7
In addition, travelers emphasize the
need for consistency, control and manageability, customized
SENSE OF PLACE
Creating “Sense of Place” in Today’s Airports:
Elevating the Traveler Experience, Increasing Airport Revenue,
and Boosting Local Economies
Lisa H. Fitzpatrick, MA, ASID, NCIDQ
Alexandra Bluell, BA, SSP Candidate
6.3B
Trips by Plane
13B
Trips by Plane
2030
2013
6.7B
INCREASE
Published by Innovations 2 Solutions | 3
SOUND
TOUCH
LIGHT
SMELL
TEMPERATURE
CLEANLINESS
ARCHITECTURE
TECHNOLOGYSAFETY
INTERIOR
DESIGN
CULTURE
ACCESS
Sense of Place Connectivity
Airport: Catalyst that Connects the Traveler to Local Culture
experiences, and the right level of service intensity.8
As
airports strive to develop a unique sense of place and become
destinations themselves, it is essential that they also create
a superior experience that meets travelers’ needs and exceeds
their expectations.
The following sections describe how airports can establish a
distinct sense of place by creating unique traveler experiences
and using intentional architectural and design elements.
What is “Sense of Place?”
Sense of place is an over-arching concept that includes both
the physical features of a space as well as the feelings and
emotions elicited by the unique environment or location.3
It connects a traveler to the airport, while simultaneously
connectingtheairporttothegeographicarea’suniquefeatures,
lifestyle and culture. Factors that contribute to sense of place
include, but are not limited to, the following: temperature,
touch, light, sound, smell, cleanliness, safety, technology,
architecture, interior design, culture, and access. In the airport
setting, all of these factors combine to create a culturally-
relevant environment and overall experience that is connected
to the airport’s location.4
Sense of place can provide travelers
with an intimate feel, a local flavor, and a desirable experience
that promote the emotional connection that today’s travelers
are seeking.5
How do Airports Create “Sense of Place?”
Sense of place is created by enhancing the traveler’s experience
and integrating this experience with the architectural, interior
design, and service elements of the airport. The integration
of these concepts must connect the visitor to both the
airport and the culture and characteristics of the region.
In order to accomplish this task, airports must provide
carefully planned experiences and amenities for the traveler,
revolving around shopping/retail, nature concepts, cultural
exhibitions, education, entertainment, dining, business
and personal services, and health and well-being amenities.
Similarly, the airport should feature architectural and interior
design concepts that reflect the physical environment of the
geographic area, as well as the local culture and economy.
The Airport Travelers’ Changing Needs
and Expectations
Today’s travelers are tech-savvy and have increased
expectations about the airport experience.6
A recent Amadeus
report indicated that by 2025, 62% of travelers want the
airport and flight to be a part of the travel experience as
opposed to solely a form of transportation. Similarly, 56%
of respondents stated that creating a ‘sense of place’ is
an important development that would enhance the airport
experience.4
These statistics confirm that travelers desire a
more meaningful airport experience, and they want the airport
to reflect the local culture and regional characteristics.
62% 22% 15%
CONVENIENCE	COST	 COMFORT
Top Traveler Priorities
(percentage of all surveyed)
4 | 2015 AVIATION THOUGHT LEADERSHIP | VOLUME 2 | SENSE OF PLACE
Enhancing Airport Experiences to Create
Sense of Place
Shopping Experiences
Stores and retail vendors that reflect sense of place have
the potential to generate revenue if they are appropriately
targeted to the travelers’ wants and needs. Travelers welcome
stores that reflect the local culture and offer products that
are made within the region or state. As a more traditional
example, Portland International Airport’s store, “Made in
Oregon,” sells products from Oregon vendors such as wine,
beer, cider, food, chocolate, apparel, and jewelry.9
Other
airports are incorporating more immersive experiences into
their retail offerings. For instance, the Copenhagen Airport
provides a mix of local brands and Nordic stores, all of which
are housed within a uniquely designed space that reflects
Danish architecture, culture, and Nordic ambience.2
Nature Experiences
As indicated previously, the needs and expectations of
today’s airport traveler are evolving. In a recent survey, 41%
of respondents indicated they would enjoy a connection to
nature through gardens or a nature trail.4
With the increased
focus on sustainability and environmental preservation
issues, many airports are finding unique ways to incorporate
the local ecology into the airport experience. For example,
Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Southeast Asia has
transplanted a section of Malaysian rainforest inside the
airport for visitors to explore. Singapore’s Changi Airport
has half a dozen different gardens throughout the complex,
including an orchid garden with koi pond and a tropical habitat
filled with butterflies, carnivorous plants and a waterfall
grotto.10
Unquestionably, airports will continue to expand
these types of immersive, natural experiences and tailor them
to the airport’s specific region to encourage more non-flight
revenue as well as visitation to the local ecological attractions.
Entertainment Experiences
In order for airports to transform their own destinations so
that they convey a unique sense of place, many provide forms
of entertainment that represent local entertainment offerings.
These attractions are in high demand; 39% of travelers state
that they would enjoy live music or theatre performance.4
Nashville International Airport, for example, holds up to 100
concerts per year on four different stages located within the
terminal. The concerts highlight some of the area’s local talent,
giving travelers an authentic Nashville experience within the
airport. Similarly, Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport
offers a range of slot machines, reflecting what the city of Las
Vegas is best known for. Providing engaging entertainment
experiences encourages travelers to enjoy spending more
time, and money, at the airport.
Cultural and Educational Experiences
One of the overall goals of defining a sense of place at the
airport is to connect the traveler with the distinctive culture of
the geographic area. This is reflected in traveler preferences,
with 43% reporting that they would like art galleries or
museums located in the airport.4
Some of today’s airports
that are incorporating their region’s unique culture into the
airport experience include Los Angeles International Airport,
which offers the free Flight Path Learning Center and Museum.
The center and museum provide exhibits on the history of
flight and a flight-simulator training program.9
Another
airport highlighting its local culture is the Beijing International
Airport Terminal 3. The terminal incorporates the Chinese
culture, not only through architectural elements but through
the inclusions of treasured artifacts.
Dining and Culinary Experiences
Perhaps one of the easiest and most impactful ways to
establish a sense of place within the airport is to provide
restaurants and dining experiences that incorporate local
food and beverages. Not surprisingly, 66% of travelers want
international food options and 61% would like locally-sourced
food.4
The Dallas-Fort Worth airport excels at providing a
culturally and geographically relevant dining experience by
providing over 100 food and beverage options that reflect
Butterfly Garden of Singapore Changi Airport
Beijing Capital International Airport
Published by Innovations 2 Solutions | 5
the local cuisine.9
Similarly, Munich’s airport features its own
Bavarian tavern and brewery, Airbräu. Visitors can dine on
both regional and international cuisine, sample beers from the
brewery, and enjoy live music in the beer garden.
A 2012 Amadeus survey found that
53% of travelers would value banking
services, and 44% would appreciate
conference or meeting rooms that
could be rented by the hour.4
Business and Personal Services
Whether traveling for business or pleasure, today’s
passengers frequently work while traveling. Providing them
with customized spaces, equipment, services, and amenities
that meet those business and personal work needs is key
to enhancing the traveler experience. Many airports already
offer free Wi-Fi access, private workspaces, and locations to
charge phones and laptops; some offer laptop rentals, access
to copiers and fax machines, and overnight shipping services.
A recent survey indicated that 53% of travelers would value
banking services, and 44% would appreciate conference or
meeting rooms that could be rented by the hour.4
For business travelers, the incorporation of sense of place
elements into airport work spaces can elevate their travel
experience and even improve their productivity. At Helsinki
Vantaa, for example, the Almost@Home Lounge aims to
resemble a modern Finnish home. The lounge has been
decorated with original artwork, handicraft, furniture and
household items by renowned Finnish designers. Within
the lounge, passengers can work in a “home office” with HP
computers, make snacks in a personal kitchen, or curl up on a
comfortable couch.10
Health and Well-Being Experiences
As airports evolve to become hubs where travelers may spend
extended periods of time, many have begun to offer services
that meet the health and well-being needs of the traveler.
Among travelers, 39% report that they would like health
and wellness services such as health checks, and 36% are
interested in quick clinics to treat minor injuries or ailments.4
In addition, 54% of travelers are interested in spa services and
30% desire a gym.4
Some airports are already excelling at
meeting these growing health and wellness expectations. For
example, Chicago O’Hare International Airport features the
8,000 square foot “Hilton Athletic Club” for travelers to work
out, swim laps, or relax in the sauna.9
Many airports also encourage passengers to improve their
spiritual well-being through prayer or meditation rooms.
Some of these rooms enhance the airport’s sense of place in
unique and meaningful ways. For instance, Dammam, Saudi
Arabia’s King Fahd International Airport has a mosque capable
of holding 2,000 worshipers. The mosque reflects the region’s
religious and cultural characteristics, and has an architectural
design that combines modern flair with traditional Islamic
style.
Architecture and Interior Design to Enhance
Sense of Place
Architectural design has the ability to connect the visual
appearance and layout of the airport with the geography
and landmarks of the airport’s location. The connection of
the airport to the region is accomplished through the use
of design elements such as color, region-specific materials,
and historical memorabilia. Travelers also appreciate the
incorporation of these elements; 24% report that themed
spaces would be a welcome addition to the airport space.4
An example of attractive architectural design successfully
connecting an airport to its region is the Denver International
Airport. The airport’s exterior design imitates the Rocky
Mountains. Similarly, the fiberglass roof structure recalls the
canvas look of the covered wagons that settlers traveled in
when journeying out West.
Almost@home Lounge at Hlsini Vantaa
39% 36% 54%
HEALTH
CHECKS
Traveler Health & Well-Being
(percentage of all surveyed)
30%
QUICK
CLINICS
SPA
SERVICES
GYM
ON SITE
6 | 2015 AVIATION THOUGHT LEADERSHIP | VOLUME 2 | SENSE OF PLACE
The interior of Denver International Airport works in
conjunction with the exterior through design elements, like
floor styles that mimic the colors and textures of the region.
These subtle components provide a direct connection to the
exterior architectural features.
At Vancouver International Airport, the terminal is intended
to be a celebration of the natural landscapes and the
communities within British Columbia. Passengers entering
the international arrivals hall descend via escalators located
near cascading water walls, designed to reflect the region’s
waterfalls. Similarly, a totem pole forms a memorable and
culturally-relevant entrance into the space.
Facilitating “Sense of Place”
While incorporating sense of place elements has the potential
to enhance the traveler’s airport experience, without proper
implementation these additions will fail to achieve their
intended outcomes. Travelers need to be aware of the amenities
and offerings featured within the airport, they must be able
to easily navigate through airport spaces, and the airport
in general must be designed to accommodate passengers
comfortably. Airports can increase time spent in airports – and
achieve the over-arching goal of increasing traffic and revenue
– through (1) effective use of technology, and (2) facilities/
infrastructure alterations or expansions designed to improve
passenger flow.
Effective technology can give travelers
more time to relax, dine, exercise,
shop, and work in airports.
Denver International Airport - Exterior
Vancouver International Airport - Totem Pole
Published by Innovations 2 Solutions | 7
The Role of Technology in Sense of Place
Today’s passengers want to be in control of their travel
experience, and they also want to be able to manage all
aspects of their trips instantaneously. With these preferences
in mind, airports are increasingly providing technological
innovations that help form a welcoming, meaningful, and
navigable atmosphere. The underlying factors in designing
this type of integrated experience include technology and
customization, or smart design – the intersection of utility,
instant gratification, and aesthetics.5
In fact, 95% of airports are investing
in mobile applications designed to
provide information about flight
status and retail opportunities.12
In matching their travelers’ desire to be more reliant on
technology, Miami International Airport recently announced
that it would be the first airport to use iBeacon technology
throughout the entire airport. The various beacons allow
passengers to electronically connect with airlines, airport
retailers, and passenger services. The beacons also allow
airport staff to communicate about the facility and promote
efficient use of resources. Increased technology use by
passengers and airports has the capability to increase the
efficiency of the check-in process, allowing travelers more
time to relax, dine, exercise, shop, and work in airports.13
The Role of Infrastructure and Facilities in
Sense of Place
As the number of airline passengers continues to expand at
an exponential rate, a new breed of super-hub airport is going
to appear to accommodate this increase. These airports will
be able to deal with half a million passengers a day, and will
become centerpieces (in their own right) of the local region.14
In addition to airport expansion, streamlining various airport
processes (e.g., check-in, security, baggage dropoff) and
adding gates, airports striving to create a sense of place need
to utilize effective space planning in order to comfortably
accommodate passengers and optimize the time they spend
in various retail or other experiential settings.
Calgary International Airport, for example, has grown beyond
its capacity in recent years. A $2.01 billion expansion will
add a fourth runway and a new terminal building. In a unique
European approach, the airport will hold departing passengers
in a pod, rather than at the gate, so that they can benefit from
the shops and restaurants available to them for longer periods
of time.15
This is just one example of a creative way to combine
effective passenger flow systems with a tactic to increase time
spent in the airport.
SMART
DESIGN
IN
STANT GRATIFICATI
ON
UTILITY
AESTHETICS
iBecon: Apple’slocation-based information and services to
iPhones and other iOS devices
Estimote’s beacon technology is being used in a trial by Virgin Atlantic.
Image: Estimote
8 | 2015 AVIATION THOUGHT LEADERSHIP | VOLUME 2 | SENSE OF PLACE
Benefits of Sense of Place to Airports and the
Local Economy
Not only are travelers asking for a sense of place in today’s
airports, but by creating it, airports have the distinct
opportunity to increase their gross revenue. Leaders in the
airport industry acknowledge that in order to increase non-
flight revenue, passengers will need to spend more time
utilizing the services provided at the airport.4
In order to
build traffic and encourage consumer engagement, airports
will need to enhance their atmosphere and improve their
efficiency – both of which can be achieved in the process of
creating experiences that reflect sense of place. As previously
discussed, properly integrated technology is an important
component of this process, as technology can allow travelers
to be self-reliant and efficient in the airport environment.5
This
increased efficiency provides travelers with more time to spend
dining, shopping, and taking in all of the unique features that
represent the culture of the geographic area of the airport.
“Airports will shift their focus from
makingmoneyfromairlinestomaking
money from the passengers in terms
of commercial revenue.”
	 - Ryan Ghee, Editor, Future Travel Experience4
All of these benefits contribute to non-flight revenue, which
can indirectly increase the airport’s attractiveness to airlines
and further increase flight revenue.6
In addition, encouraging
visitors to experience the local cultural and ecological
attractions, as well as selling locally-sourced food or products,
can significantly benefit the local economy. In an interview
for the article “Seeking Financial Freedom” in Airport Revenue
News,6
the director of the Lambert St. Louis International
Airport, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, emphasized that “…
business leaders in any community realize the economic
impact a thriving airport has to the overall success of their
region.” Similarly, 39% of travelers surveyed in the Amadeus
study reported that they believe that in the future, airports
will be “tightly integrated with the local economy.”4
Conclusion
Airports are economic centers in their respective cities. They
promote economic growth and each one provides thousands
of jobs. At the same time, many airports are beginning to look
to non-flight revenue sources in order to remain competitive
and profitable. By providing a diverse array of sense of place
experiences, airports can encourage increased time spent in
the airport, and therefore increased spending among travelers.
To accomplish this, it is essential that airports understand
how to provide today’s travelers with a unique, meaningful
experience that is customized to the geographic location of
the airport. In addition, the incorporation of sense of place
elements should not only connect the traveler to the airport’s
geographic region; rather, these features should also promote
an enhanced travel experience and greater well-being. Finally,
it is important to note that a well-designed sense of place in
the airport setting also serves to promote the offerings of the
local region, thus benefiting the local economy. Incorporating
sense of place into the airport environment can, in fact, be a
“win-win” situation for all – airports, airlines, travelers, and
the local region.
Library at Amsterdam Airport Shiphol
House of tulips, flower shop at Amsterdam Airport Shiphol
Published by Innovations 2 Solutions | 9
References
1.	 Airports Council International. (2014, November). ACI world report. Retrieved from http://www.aci.aero/News/ACI-World-
Report
2.	 Airport Business Magazine (2014, April). Bringing a local flavor to international retail. Retrieved from http://www.airport-
business.com/2014/04/bringing-a-local-flavour-to-international-airport-retail/
3.	 Hummon, D. M. (1992). Community Attachment: Local sentiment and sense of place. In I. Altmon & S.M. Low (Eds.), Place
attachment (pp. 253-278). New York: Plenum Press.
4.	 Amadeus. (2012). Reinventing the airport ecosystem: A new airline industry report. Retrieved from
	http://thefuturesagency.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/amadeus-reinventing-the-airport-ecosystem-2012-en.pdf
5.	 Ali, R., Clampet, J., Schaal, D., & Shankman, S. (2014). Skift report: 14 trends that will define travel in 2014. Retrieved from
http://skift.com/2014/01/06/skift-report-14-global-trends-that-will-define-travel-in-2014/
6.	 Tellijohn, A. (2012, September). Seeking financial freedom. Airport Revenue News, 10 (132), 20-27.
7.	 Amadeus. (2013). Amadeus Business Travel Insights: The 21st Century Business Traveler. Retrieved from http://www.
amadeus.com/web/binaries/blobs/734/32/Amadeus%20Business%20Travel%20Insights%20UK&IR%20low%20
res.0.pdf
8.	 Awori, K ., Gonçalves, A., Clark, E., Effner, T., Yang, J., Oakley, I., & Nunes, N. (2012). Supporting the aviation industry: A
traveler-centered approach. Proceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems Conference, ACM 693-696. Retrieved from
http://www.whereveriam.org/work/UMa/Awori-DIS2012.pdf
9.	 The airports you won’t mind getting stranded in because they rock. (2014, September). Yahoo Travel. Retrieved from
	https://www.yahoo.com/travel/best-airports-to-get-stuck-in-97283019352.html
10.	Lemer, A. (2010, June). 10 ways to kill time at the airport. Lonely Planet. Retrieved from http://www.lonelyplanet.com/
travel-tips-and-articles/58668#ixzz3IfpeUEL7
11.	Kollau, R. (2013, December). Looking for trends and innovations in the airport experience? Keep an eye on Scandinavian
airports. airporttrends●com. Retrieved from http://www.airporttrends.com/2013/12/scandinavian-airports-innovation-
inspiration/
12.	O’Brien, J., & Ali, R. (2014). Skift report: State of travel 2014. Retrieved from http://skift.com/2014/08/04/launching-the-
state-of-the-travel-2014/
13.	Garcia, M. (2014, September). Helsinki airport’s plan to bring one great gateway airport under just one roof. Skift.
Retrieved from http://skift.com/2014/09/23/helsinki-airports-plan-to-bring-one-great-gateway-airport-under-just-one-
roof/?utm_source=Skift&utm_campaign=76bf79bb%E2%80%A6#1
14.	Rogers, D. (2014, October). The future of air transport. Global Construction Review. Retrieved from http://www.
globalconreview.com/sectors/futur23e-ai35789r-trans590port/
15.	Tellijohn, A. (2012, September). Adding infrastructure. Airport Revenue News, 10 (132), 10-13.
Sodexo Aviation
9801 Washingtonian Blvd.
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
888 SODEXO 7
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2015 Creating Sense of Place in Today's Airports

  • 1. 2 0 1 5 AVIATION SOLUTIONS C R E AT I N G SENSE OF PLACE IN TODAY’S AIRPORTS
  • 2. 2 | 2015 AVIATION THOUGHT LEADERSHIP | VOLUME 2 | SENSE OF PLACE Introduction Globally, the number of trips taken by plane is expected to more than double, from 6.3 billion in 2013 to approximately 13 billion in 2030.1 More and more travelers are passing through airports every day, bringing increased opportunities for revenue growth. In an attempt to enhance the traveler’s overall experience, generate additional non-flight revenue, and promote the local economy, many airports are striving to enhance the traveler experience by creating a “sense of place” – a unique combination of environmental characteristics designed to connect passengers not only to the airport, but also to that airport’s distinctive geographic location and culture. Airports are gateways to countries, regions and cities. They are vital components of the conveyance of sense of place, and they have the ability to create unique arrival and departure experiences that connect the airport to the local region and to its community. The incorporation of sense of place in the built environment and as part of the airport amenities can welcome travelers, and create interest in the unique offerings of the surrounding region. This paper will define “sense of place,” and explain how creating a “sense of place” in the airport environment can better meet the needs and expectations of today’s travelers. Specific examples of how today’s airports are creating a “sense of place” will be provided, and the role of technology and infrastructure in facilitating an enhanced traveler experience will be discussed. Finally, benefits of a “sense of place” – to airports, airlines, passengers, and local economies – will be described. “The first impression is vital in shaping the opinion of a city on arrival. The airport is the first, and last, impression a traveler experiences, and that should be a heart-warming experience.” - Kam Jandu, Budapest Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer2 The addition of any (or all) of these types of experiences and amenities is an unquestionably large undertaking; however, today’s travelers increasingly expect sense of place to be incorporated into their airport experience. The majority (81%) of travelers agree that “to encourage people to increase time spent at the airport, airports will need to become an immersive space that enables interaction with multiple cultures and evokes the local culture, architecture, ecology, biology, commerce and worldviews.”4 Before examining specific ways in which airports are enhancing their sense of place, it is essential to better understand the unique needs and expectations of today’s airline travelers. At the same time, passengers increasingly expect their travel experience to be seamless, stress-free, and comfortable. In a recent survey of travelers, 62% of those surveyed reported that convenience was a top priority, 22% indicated that cost was their first priority, and 15% chose comfort as their number one priority.7 In addition, travelers emphasize the need for consistency, control and manageability, customized SENSE OF PLACE Creating “Sense of Place” in Today’s Airports: Elevating the Traveler Experience, Increasing Airport Revenue, and Boosting Local Economies Lisa H. Fitzpatrick, MA, ASID, NCIDQ Alexandra Bluell, BA, SSP Candidate 6.3B Trips by Plane 13B Trips by Plane 2030 2013 6.7B INCREASE
  • 3. Published by Innovations 2 Solutions | 3 SOUND TOUCH LIGHT SMELL TEMPERATURE CLEANLINESS ARCHITECTURE TECHNOLOGYSAFETY INTERIOR DESIGN CULTURE ACCESS Sense of Place Connectivity Airport: Catalyst that Connects the Traveler to Local Culture experiences, and the right level of service intensity.8 As airports strive to develop a unique sense of place and become destinations themselves, it is essential that they also create a superior experience that meets travelers’ needs and exceeds their expectations. The following sections describe how airports can establish a distinct sense of place by creating unique traveler experiences and using intentional architectural and design elements. What is “Sense of Place?” Sense of place is an over-arching concept that includes both the physical features of a space as well as the feelings and emotions elicited by the unique environment or location.3 It connects a traveler to the airport, while simultaneously connectingtheairporttothegeographicarea’suniquefeatures, lifestyle and culture. Factors that contribute to sense of place include, but are not limited to, the following: temperature, touch, light, sound, smell, cleanliness, safety, technology, architecture, interior design, culture, and access. In the airport setting, all of these factors combine to create a culturally- relevant environment and overall experience that is connected to the airport’s location.4 Sense of place can provide travelers with an intimate feel, a local flavor, and a desirable experience that promote the emotional connection that today’s travelers are seeking.5 How do Airports Create “Sense of Place?” Sense of place is created by enhancing the traveler’s experience and integrating this experience with the architectural, interior design, and service elements of the airport. The integration of these concepts must connect the visitor to both the airport and the culture and characteristics of the region. In order to accomplish this task, airports must provide carefully planned experiences and amenities for the traveler, revolving around shopping/retail, nature concepts, cultural exhibitions, education, entertainment, dining, business and personal services, and health and well-being amenities. Similarly, the airport should feature architectural and interior design concepts that reflect the physical environment of the geographic area, as well as the local culture and economy. The Airport Travelers’ Changing Needs and Expectations Today’s travelers are tech-savvy and have increased expectations about the airport experience.6 A recent Amadeus report indicated that by 2025, 62% of travelers want the airport and flight to be a part of the travel experience as opposed to solely a form of transportation. Similarly, 56% of respondents stated that creating a ‘sense of place’ is an important development that would enhance the airport experience.4 These statistics confirm that travelers desire a more meaningful airport experience, and they want the airport to reflect the local culture and regional characteristics. 62% 22% 15% CONVENIENCE COST COMFORT Top Traveler Priorities (percentage of all surveyed)
  • 4. 4 | 2015 AVIATION THOUGHT LEADERSHIP | VOLUME 2 | SENSE OF PLACE Enhancing Airport Experiences to Create Sense of Place Shopping Experiences Stores and retail vendors that reflect sense of place have the potential to generate revenue if they are appropriately targeted to the travelers’ wants and needs. Travelers welcome stores that reflect the local culture and offer products that are made within the region or state. As a more traditional example, Portland International Airport’s store, “Made in Oregon,” sells products from Oregon vendors such as wine, beer, cider, food, chocolate, apparel, and jewelry.9 Other airports are incorporating more immersive experiences into their retail offerings. For instance, the Copenhagen Airport provides a mix of local brands and Nordic stores, all of which are housed within a uniquely designed space that reflects Danish architecture, culture, and Nordic ambience.2 Nature Experiences As indicated previously, the needs and expectations of today’s airport traveler are evolving. In a recent survey, 41% of respondents indicated they would enjoy a connection to nature through gardens or a nature trail.4 With the increased focus on sustainability and environmental preservation issues, many airports are finding unique ways to incorporate the local ecology into the airport experience. For example, Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Southeast Asia has transplanted a section of Malaysian rainforest inside the airport for visitors to explore. Singapore’s Changi Airport has half a dozen different gardens throughout the complex, including an orchid garden with koi pond and a tropical habitat filled with butterflies, carnivorous plants and a waterfall grotto.10 Unquestionably, airports will continue to expand these types of immersive, natural experiences and tailor them to the airport’s specific region to encourage more non-flight revenue as well as visitation to the local ecological attractions. Entertainment Experiences In order for airports to transform their own destinations so that they convey a unique sense of place, many provide forms of entertainment that represent local entertainment offerings. These attractions are in high demand; 39% of travelers state that they would enjoy live music or theatre performance.4 Nashville International Airport, for example, holds up to 100 concerts per year on four different stages located within the terminal. The concerts highlight some of the area’s local talent, giving travelers an authentic Nashville experience within the airport. Similarly, Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport offers a range of slot machines, reflecting what the city of Las Vegas is best known for. Providing engaging entertainment experiences encourages travelers to enjoy spending more time, and money, at the airport. Cultural and Educational Experiences One of the overall goals of defining a sense of place at the airport is to connect the traveler with the distinctive culture of the geographic area. This is reflected in traveler preferences, with 43% reporting that they would like art galleries or museums located in the airport.4 Some of today’s airports that are incorporating their region’s unique culture into the airport experience include Los Angeles International Airport, which offers the free Flight Path Learning Center and Museum. The center and museum provide exhibits on the history of flight and a flight-simulator training program.9 Another airport highlighting its local culture is the Beijing International Airport Terminal 3. The terminal incorporates the Chinese culture, not only through architectural elements but through the inclusions of treasured artifacts. Dining and Culinary Experiences Perhaps one of the easiest and most impactful ways to establish a sense of place within the airport is to provide restaurants and dining experiences that incorporate local food and beverages. Not surprisingly, 66% of travelers want international food options and 61% would like locally-sourced food.4 The Dallas-Fort Worth airport excels at providing a culturally and geographically relevant dining experience by providing over 100 food and beverage options that reflect Butterfly Garden of Singapore Changi Airport Beijing Capital International Airport
  • 5. Published by Innovations 2 Solutions | 5 the local cuisine.9 Similarly, Munich’s airport features its own Bavarian tavern and brewery, Airbräu. Visitors can dine on both regional and international cuisine, sample beers from the brewery, and enjoy live music in the beer garden. A 2012 Amadeus survey found that 53% of travelers would value banking services, and 44% would appreciate conference or meeting rooms that could be rented by the hour.4 Business and Personal Services Whether traveling for business or pleasure, today’s passengers frequently work while traveling. Providing them with customized spaces, equipment, services, and amenities that meet those business and personal work needs is key to enhancing the traveler experience. Many airports already offer free Wi-Fi access, private workspaces, and locations to charge phones and laptops; some offer laptop rentals, access to copiers and fax machines, and overnight shipping services. A recent survey indicated that 53% of travelers would value banking services, and 44% would appreciate conference or meeting rooms that could be rented by the hour.4 For business travelers, the incorporation of sense of place elements into airport work spaces can elevate their travel experience and even improve their productivity. At Helsinki Vantaa, for example, the Almost@Home Lounge aims to resemble a modern Finnish home. The lounge has been decorated with original artwork, handicraft, furniture and household items by renowned Finnish designers. Within the lounge, passengers can work in a “home office” with HP computers, make snacks in a personal kitchen, or curl up on a comfortable couch.10 Health and Well-Being Experiences As airports evolve to become hubs where travelers may spend extended periods of time, many have begun to offer services that meet the health and well-being needs of the traveler. Among travelers, 39% report that they would like health and wellness services such as health checks, and 36% are interested in quick clinics to treat minor injuries or ailments.4 In addition, 54% of travelers are interested in spa services and 30% desire a gym.4 Some airports are already excelling at meeting these growing health and wellness expectations. For example, Chicago O’Hare International Airport features the 8,000 square foot “Hilton Athletic Club” for travelers to work out, swim laps, or relax in the sauna.9 Many airports also encourage passengers to improve their spiritual well-being through prayer or meditation rooms. Some of these rooms enhance the airport’s sense of place in unique and meaningful ways. For instance, Dammam, Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd International Airport has a mosque capable of holding 2,000 worshipers. The mosque reflects the region’s religious and cultural characteristics, and has an architectural design that combines modern flair with traditional Islamic style. Architecture and Interior Design to Enhance Sense of Place Architectural design has the ability to connect the visual appearance and layout of the airport with the geography and landmarks of the airport’s location. The connection of the airport to the region is accomplished through the use of design elements such as color, region-specific materials, and historical memorabilia. Travelers also appreciate the incorporation of these elements; 24% report that themed spaces would be a welcome addition to the airport space.4 An example of attractive architectural design successfully connecting an airport to its region is the Denver International Airport. The airport’s exterior design imitates the Rocky Mountains. Similarly, the fiberglass roof structure recalls the canvas look of the covered wagons that settlers traveled in when journeying out West. Almost@home Lounge at Hlsini Vantaa 39% 36% 54% HEALTH CHECKS Traveler Health & Well-Being (percentage of all surveyed) 30% QUICK CLINICS SPA SERVICES GYM ON SITE
  • 6. 6 | 2015 AVIATION THOUGHT LEADERSHIP | VOLUME 2 | SENSE OF PLACE The interior of Denver International Airport works in conjunction with the exterior through design elements, like floor styles that mimic the colors and textures of the region. These subtle components provide a direct connection to the exterior architectural features. At Vancouver International Airport, the terminal is intended to be a celebration of the natural landscapes and the communities within British Columbia. Passengers entering the international arrivals hall descend via escalators located near cascading water walls, designed to reflect the region’s waterfalls. Similarly, a totem pole forms a memorable and culturally-relevant entrance into the space. Facilitating “Sense of Place” While incorporating sense of place elements has the potential to enhance the traveler’s airport experience, without proper implementation these additions will fail to achieve their intended outcomes. Travelers need to be aware of the amenities and offerings featured within the airport, they must be able to easily navigate through airport spaces, and the airport in general must be designed to accommodate passengers comfortably. Airports can increase time spent in airports – and achieve the over-arching goal of increasing traffic and revenue – through (1) effective use of technology, and (2) facilities/ infrastructure alterations or expansions designed to improve passenger flow. Effective technology can give travelers more time to relax, dine, exercise, shop, and work in airports. Denver International Airport - Exterior Vancouver International Airport - Totem Pole
  • 7. Published by Innovations 2 Solutions | 7 The Role of Technology in Sense of Place Today’s passengers want to be in control of their travel experience, and they also want to be able to manage all aspects of their trips instantaneously. With these preferences in mind, airports are increasingly providing technological innovations that help form a welcoming, meaningful, and navigable atmosphere. The underlying factors in designing this type of integrated experience include technology and customization, or smart design – the intersection of utility, instant gratification, and aesthetics.5 In fact, 95% of airports are investing in mobile applications designed to provide information about flight status and retail opportunities.12 In matching their travelers’ desire to be more reliant on technology, Miami International Airport recently announced that it would be the first airport to use iBeacon technology throughout the entire airport. The various beacons allow passengers to electronically connect with airlines, airport retailers, and passenger services. The beacons also allow airport staff to communicate about the facility and promote efficient use of resources. Increased technology use by passengers and airports has the capability to increase the efficiency of the check-in process, allowing travelers more time to relax, dine, exercise, shop, and work in airports.13 The Role of Infrastructure and Facilities in Sense of Place As the number of airline passengers continues to expand at an exponential rate, a new breed of super-hub airport is going to appear to accommodate this increase. These airports will be able to deal with half a million passengers a day, and will become centerpieces (in their own right) of the local region.14 In addition to airport expansion, streamlining various airport processes (e.g., check-in, security, baggage dropoff) and adding gates, airports striving to create a sense of place need to utilize effective space planning in order to comfortably accommodate passengers and optimize the time they spend in various retail or other experiential settings. Calgary International Airport, for example, has grown beyond its capacity in recent years. A $2.01 billion expansion will add a fourth runway and a new terminal building. In a unique European approach, the airport will hold departing passengers in a pod, rather than at the gate, so that they can benefit from the shops and restaurants available to them for longer periods of time.15 This is just one example of a creative way to combine effective passenger flow systems with a tactic to increase time spent in the airport. SMART DESIGN IN STANT GRATIFICATI ON UTILITY AESTHETICS iBecon: Apple’slocation-based information and services to iPhones and other iOS devices Estimote’s beacon technology is being used in a trial by Virgin Atlantic. Image: Estimote
  • 8. 8 | 2015 AVIATION THOUGHT LEADERSHIP | VOLUME 2 | SENSE OF PLACE Benefits of Sense of Place to Airports and the Local Economy Not only are travelers asking for a sense of place in today’s airports, but by creating it, airports have the distinct opportunity to increase their gross revenue. Leaders in the airport industry acknowledge that in order to increase non- flight revenue, passengers will need to spend more time utilizing the services provided at the airport.4 In order to build traffic and encourage consumer engagement, airports will need to enhance their atmosphere and improve their efficiency – both of which can be achieved in the process of creating experiences that reflect sense of place. As previously discussed, properly integrated technology is an important component of this process, as technology can allow travelers to be self-reliant and efficient in the airport environment.5 This increased efficiency provides travelers with more time to spend dining, shopping, and taking in all of the unique features that represent the culture of the geographic area of the airport. “Airports will shift their focus from makingmoneyfromairlinestomaking money from the passengers in terms of commercial revenue.” - Ryan Ghee, Editor, Future Travel Experience4 All of these benefits contribute to non-flight revenue, which can indirectly increase the airport’s attractiveness to airlines and further increase flight revenue.6 In addition, encouraging visitors to experience the local cultural and ecological attractions, as well as selling locally-sourced food or products, can significantly benefit the local economy. In an interview for the article “Seeking Financial Freedom” in Airport Revenue News,6 the director of the Lambert St. Louis International Airport, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, emphasized that “… business leaders in any community realize the economic impact a thriving airport has to the overall success of their region.” Similarly, 39% of travelers surveyed in the Amadeus study reported that they believe that in the future, airports will be “tightly integrated with the local economy.”4 Conclusion Airports are economic centers in their respective cities. They promote economic growth and each one provides thousands of jobs. At the same time, many airports are beginning to look to non-flight revenue sources in order to remain competitive and profitable. By providing a diverse array of sense of place experiences, airports can encourage increased time spent in the airport, and therefore increased spending among travelers. To accomplish this, it is essential that airports understand how to provide today’s travelers with a unique, meaningful experience that is customized to the geographic location of the airport. In addition, the incorporation of sense of place elements should not only connect the traveler to the airport’s geographic region; rather, these features should also promote an enhanced travel experience and greater well-being. Finally, it is important to note that a well-designed sense of place in the airport setting also serves to promote the offerings of the local region, thus benefiting the local economy. Incorporating sense of place into the airport environment can, in fact, be a “win-win” situation for all – airports, airlines, travelers, and the local region. Library at Amsterdam Airport Shiphol House of tulips, flower shop at Amsterdam Airport Shiphol
  • 9. Published by Innovations 2 Solutions | 9 References 1. Airports Council International. (2014, November). ACI world report. Retrieved from http://www.aci.aero/News/ACI-World- Report 2. Airport Business Magazine (2014, April). Bringing a local flavor to international retail. Retrieved from http://www.airport- business.com/2014/04/bringing-a-local-flavour-to-international-airport-retail/ 3. Hummon, D. M. (1992). Community Attachment: Local sentiment and sense of place. In I. Altmon & S.M. Low (Eds.), Place attachment (pp. 253-278). New York: Plenum Press. 4. Amadeus. (2012). Reinventing the airport ecosystem: A new airline industry report. Retrieved from http://thefuturesagency.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/amadeus-reinventing-the-airport-ecosystem-2012-en.pdf 5. Ali, R., Clampet, J., Schaal, D., & Shankman, S. (2014). Skift report: 14 trends that will define travel in 2014. Retrieved from http://skift.com/2014/01/06/skift-report-14-global-trends-that-will-define-travel-in-2014/ 6. Tellijohn, A. (2012, September). Seeking financial freedom. Airport Revenue News, 10 (132), 20-27. 7. Amadeus. (2013). Amadeus Business Travel Insights: The 21st Century Business Traveler. Retrieved from http://www. amadeus.com/web/binaries/blobs/734/32/Amadeus%20Business%20Travel%20Insights%20UK&IR%20low%20 res.0.pdf 8. Awori, K ., Gonçalves, A., Clark, E., Effner, T., Yang, J., Oakley, I., & Nunes, N. (2012). Supporting the aviation industry: A traveler-centered approach. Proceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems Conference, ACM 693-696. Retrieved from http://www.whereveriam.org/work/UMa/Awori-DIS2012.pdf 9. The airports you won’t mind getting stranded in because they rock. (2014, September). Yahoo Travel. Retrieved from https://www.yahoo.com/travel/best-airports-to-get-stuck-in-97283019352.html 10. Lemer, A. (2010, June). 10 ways to kill time at the airport. Lonely Planet. Retrieved from http://www.lonelyplanet.com/ travel-tips-and-articles/58668#ixzz3IfpeUEL7 11. Kollau, R. (2013, December). Looking for trends and innovations in the airport experience? Keep an eye on Scandinavian airports. airporttrends●com. Retrieved from http://www.airporttrends.com/2013/12/scandinavian-airports-innovation- inspiration/ 12. O’Brien, J., & Ali, R. (2014). Skift report: State of travel 2014. Retrieved from http://skift.com/2014/08/04/launching-the- state-of-the-travel-2014/ 13. Garcia, M. (2014, September). Helsinki airport’s plan to bring one great gateway airport under just one roof. Skift. Retrieved from http://skift.com/2014/09/23/helsinki-airports-plan-to-bring-one-great-gateway-airport-under-just-one- roof/?utm_source=Skift&utm_campaign=76bf79bb%E2%80%A6#1 14. Rogers, D. (2014, October). The future of air transport. Global Construction Review. Retrieved from http://www. globalconreview.com/sectors/futur23e-ai35789r-trans590port/ 15. Tellijohn, A. (2012, September). Adding infrastructure. Airport Revenue News, 10 (132), 10-13.
  • 10. Sodexo Aviation 9801 Washingtonian Blvd. Gaithersburg, MD 20878 888 SODEXO 7 www.sodexo.com