Airports today are more than just a place to catch a flight. Rather, the airport itself is a destination. Besides expanding retail and concessions options, airports are investing in art, events, and entertainment to enhance passenger experiences. In this type of environment, the voyage begins even before the traveler makes it to their intended destination. Therefore, it is a natural fit to bring elements of the hospitality world into the airport. For years, airports have been doing this with VIP lounges that provide a touch of luxury to affluent and frequent flyers. But with the democratization of air travel and increasing demand, these types of comforts are now expected to be available to everyone, throughout the airport.
Individual club and lounge chairs have been a staple of VIP lounge areas for years, and have come to be expected by these travelers. However, these pieces are now more often being brought into other parts of the airport for everyone to enjoy.
These types of chairs can be used as statement pieces, positioned sparingly near a gate, and covered in bright upholstery.When covered in colorful upholstery, these lounge pieces bring a pop of whimsy to their dedicated location. Many travelers also look for a slice of personal space in such a busy setting, and enjoy furniture with high-backs and acoustic sound absorbing qualities for a place of respite to read or work while they wait for their flight. In retail settings of the airport, when placed strategically, lounge seating gives people a place to rest between shopping. Placement outside a store also gives anxious husbands/wives/kids a place to relax and wait rather than standing outside a store trying to hurry along their shopper.
In concessions areas, incorporating cafe style furniture that would be found at a local coffee shop or boutique restaurant adds a relaxing atmosphere, encouraging passengers sit, sip, and spend money.
Adding elements of art and entertainment are also heavily making their way into airports. From a skating rink at Denver International Airport, to movie theaters at Changi Airport in Singapore, and curated local art exhibits at many major airports, these facilities are bringing in elements that make people want to go earlier just to enjoy the amenities. This corresponds with a trend of businesses and organizations trying to boost their brand recognition and get more interaction with consumers by making their physical space, whether it be a store, a trade show booth, or a building, something that is ‘share-worthy’. With the ubiquity of camera phones, instagram, and the desire for unique content, having something fun or beautiful that passengers can post and tag is another way to get more foot traffic, while also making the airport feel like part of the journey.
Adding these touches of luxury, innovation, and comfort to the airport experience helps enhance passenger experiences beyond simply waiting for a flight. By providing the right collection of furniture pieces that raise the value of the airport experience, terminal operators establish their facility as a destination in its own right.