Many of us travel. Some travel for business, some for pleasure; some travel travel more than others. Some of us have to travel, while others choose to, but one thing is the same for all of us: being at the airport – and the experience associated with that – is a necessary evil all air travelers must share.
There is tremendous opportunity here, for airports, to do something great. With the bar set so low, it would be easy to differentiate a store, restaurant or terminal from the others.
Airports – and the businesses within them – focus too much on exploiting the traveler rather than seducing him. They spend too much time determining the highest price they can charge for the lowest-cost product, and not enough time on designing the experience in which it’s purchased.
Customers will happily $3 for a bottle of water or $15 for a salad – if they deem it worthwhile. They feel resentful, however, when the price is tied to the “same” bottle of water that can be had at half the price back home, with no additional benefit. They feel downright unhappy when they do this while being asked to sit on pleather chairs under unflattering light and give their money to employees with bad attitudes.
While customers are indeed captive in an airport and will likely buy their water whether or not its sold under flourescent lighting, they are still the same individuals they are elsewhere, in other markets. And they often can choose one pseudo-coffee shop over another. In a world where we’ve come to expect an unpleasant encounter, a good attitude and softer chairs means they choose you. And for the business traveler, who’s there every week, that means customer loyalty and repeat business.