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New airport services following the transformation trend into major hospitality and retail hubs

8 Jun 2022
Victoria Wallace

Today, airports are more than just tarmac and terminals – they are experience venues in their own right. Over the years, airports have become major hospitality and retail hubs that all big brands want to be a part of, with a captive audience ready to spend money.

But how can airports ensure they remain attractive to both brand partners and passengers? Here we will look at some of the new airport services driving non-aeronautical revenue and delivering the ultimate passenger experience.

Experiential retail

Airports are no longer just a gateway for passengers to board a plane. Instead, passengers go to the airport expecting a luxury experience and memorable moments. With this in mind, airports not only need to find ways to optimise passengers’ free time in their terminals but find a way to wow them. One of the key airport transformational trends that ensures this is experiential retail.

The aim of experiential retail is not necessarily to increase sales but rather to engage passengers, address their needs and foster brand loyalty. Essentially, experiential retail creates synergy between physical and ecommerce stores. In addition, it offers what ecommerce can’t – an immersive, memorable brand experience, which is particularly important for millennials, with 72% saying they’d rather spend on experiences than products.

Experiential retail is open to interpretation. There are no hard and fast rules. However, a highly engaging design is recommended. It almost always taps into the benefit of technology to simplify and improve the shopping experience, for example, large screens, digital touchpoints, AR and VR, and sales tablets, all of which attract customers’ attention and draw them in.

There are all sorts of experiential retail experiences airports can offer, from Heathrow’s personal shopper experience to value-added services that enable passengers to:

  • Test and try products before they buy
  • Watch tutorials and participate in classes
  • Access exclusive events.

Pierre Abignano, Director of non-aeronautical revenue at VINCI Airports, spoke at the IAR Online Summit about the merit of delivering a local experience. “We have to have localised content, whether it be food, retail or what we’re showcasing. So, for example, there’s no good showcasing US products in France. It doesn’t make much sense, and I don’t think passengers ultimately are really looking for or guided by that.”

The key to success also lies in collaboration. Airports provide the physical space and infrastructure, brands and retailers provide the experience and products, and airlines can help provide the necessary data to communicate with passengers in a more targeted and personalised manner. It’s a complete ecosystem.

“Use the airport as a stage, invite the big players to use the airport more than they used to. It’s not only a point where you just fly to or come from, but it is a star by itself,” said Dr Michael Kerkloh, Former President & CEO of Flughafen München GmBh at the IAR Summit.

Airport ecommerce and super apps

Along with providing unique tech-driven luxury experiences, airport retail hubs also need to focus on delivering an experience that offers the ultimate convenience. Today’s passengers expect to have access to ecommerce platforms any time, anywhere, regardless of the device they use. It’s, therefore, important that airports reimagine retail stores beyond their physical boundaries and work with partners like Rezcomm to deliver an omnichannel business model, achieve sustainability and offer a seamless experience to passengers.

“Before COVID, these systems were seen as a nice to have for airports. But after COVID, all these systems are becoming the new normal for many airports around the globe,” said Aziz Can Aksoyek (Head of Sales and Business Development at TAV Technologies) at the IAR Online Summit.

Passengers want to be able to research, check availability and compare prices online before purchasing products at the airport. They are no longer such spontaneous shoppers. And with an ecommerce website, passengers can research, compare, browse and buy all of the products and services they need from a single location.

An airport ecommerce transformation and super apps can also help reduce the barriers to purchase. For instance, passengers won’t have to run the risk of queuing at a retail store while their flight is on final call. Instead, they can pre-order, click and collect or choose gate or home delivery for convenience.

“Duty-free online shopping can provide many opportunities for passengers to save time in the airport, and with food and beverage, offering a pre-order platform prevents passengers from wasting time or risking contact. Essentially, passengers can manage their plans in advance,” explained Aziz.

What’s more, with ecommerce, there is a fantastic opportunity for airports to get to know their passengers and their preferences. This enables airports to share targeted upsells and cross-sells to unlock more revenue from passengers and means they can deliver a more personal experience at the airport to generate brand loyalty. Creating an ‘unseen’ digital infrastructure that consists of big data, CRM and business intelligence is crucial in understanding the needs of individual passengers and providing a tailored experience.

Are you ready to embark on an airport ecommerce transformation? Download our ecommerce brochure and chat with our experts.


We all know airport formalities are tedious and time-consuming, even with the online check-in options offered by most airports. The use of biometrics in the airport can significantly boost efficiency while also helping to restore passenger confidence.

With biometrics, airports can offer a completely contactless journey. It saves passengers from spending a long time in queues, which we know negatively impacts the passenger experience and non-aeronautical revenue. The shorter time passengers spend queueing, the more they’re willing to spend on airport hospitality and retail. And with increased dwell time, there’s the opportunity for passengers to spend more at the airport than ever before.

Biometrics can also contribute to the luxury experience airports strive to offer. For instance, airports can control customer access to the airport lounge with facial recognition technology. Upon identifying a passenger entering the lounge, the airport can pull data about that specific passenger and their preferences, so employees can have the passengers’ drinks, food and anything else they’ve pre-ordered ready and waiting for them.

Contactless technology and a touchless experience

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, contactless technology has gone from being a ‘nice to have’ to an essential. And while it has a positive impact on restoring passenger confidence with its health and safety benefits, it also greatly supports airport hospitality and retail.

Thanks to new airport services like Rezcomm’s Fast Track, airports can speed up the ‘transactional’ part of the passenger journey, increasing their dwell time, so they can experience all of the different airport offerings and spend more money.

Virtual queuing

Along with fast track services, airport retail hubs and passengers can also benefit from virtual queuing. With Rezcomm’s Queueless Journey module, there’s no need for passengers to queue anywhere in the airport. Instead, they can book a slot at any touchpoint in the airport and wait virtually, rather than in a physical line, eliminating any discomfort, stress and anxiety.

By queuing virtually, passengers can spend their time making the most of what the airport offers, such as experiential retail experiences, dining, airport tours, or simply chilling out in the lounge.

Queueless journeys are something airports can offer as a pre-booked service on their ecommerce websites and upsells during the booking journey when a customer purchases car parking, a flight or a holiday. And suppose airports don’t manage to capture the upsell at the booking stage. In that case, they can continue to market the experience-boosting service at the airport, allowing passengers to scan a QR code and purchase queue jump tickets via their mobile phones.

Introduce new digital services to your airport with Rezcomm

From experiential retail and airport ecommerce transformations to contactless fast track booking and queueless journeys, airports can offer so many new services to remain attractive to both brand partners and passengers. But to ensure you get the highest return from these new services, you need to work with the right airport partner – Rezcomm.

Discover our Marketplace Solution and book a meeting to discuss how we can help you deliver the ultimate airport experience.