Terminals worldwide are enhancing the level of service they offer travellers – striving to make the pre-flight experience something to look forward to. These are particularly welcome developments for business travellers, for whom the airport is often an extension of the office.
Here, Richard Coleman, European Director at Collinson, operator of Priority Pass, takes a look at 10 trends and experiences making business travellers’ time at the airport more enjoyable and effective.
Growth in digital technologies
Smart technology is making it quicker and easier to move through the airport, reducing time wasted by business travellers. Well-established queue cutting tools like app-based check-in and bag drop are being joined by features such as indoor maps that use augmented reality to make navigating airports even easier.
Access to premium lounges
Airport lounges can offer the ideal place for those needing to crack on with work, while taking advantage of complimentary food, drink, and fast WiFi. For example, lounges such as Gatwick North’s Aspire Lounge has quiet areas and office-style spaces with charging points. Joining a lounge programme is also a good money-saving option for frequent flyers.
Personalised airport experiences
Navigating an unfamiliar airport or facing long queues can waste valuable time for business travellers. Luckily, concierge services that fast-track customs or security are now widely available. This includes meet and greet services such as at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which whisk you from touchdown, through express customs, to onward travel.
Making food mobile
Sometimes there’s not enough time for business travellers to enjoy a meal in a restaurant or even pick up a quick bite to eat on their way to a connecting flight. But peckish passengers won’t have to worry about going hungry in the future. Expect to start seeing services that let you pre-order food to be delivered to gates – the ultimate in convenience.
Boom in first-class shopping
Major global airports have significantly enhanced with their retail offering in recent years. Going hand in hand with this is the expansion of duty-free discounts and online services, including reserve and collect, home delivery and complimentary personal shoppers. Heathrow Boutique customers can shop online for airport collection – perfect for busy business travellers who may not have time for pre-flight shopping.
- Comfortable options for catching forty winks
Airports are investing in inventive ways for passengers to catch up on sleep between flights – particularly important for business travellers who need to feel well-rested and productive on reaching their destination. Facilities such as Dubai International’s sleep pods or Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson’s Minute Suites are great for long lay-overs.
- Dining in style
For time-poor business travellers, it can be difficult to find quick, quality meals at the airport. But many are expanding their dining options beyond the usual fast food chains. Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International airport now serves signature dishes from some of the city’s best chefs; look out for Kitchen By Mike and The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck. Gatwick is also home to the first off-shoot of multi-award-winning London restaurant, Grain Store.
- Growth in loyalty points and programmes
Loyalty programmes are evolving and offering diverse ways to collect and redeem points. For example, Avios lets members collect points on high street purchases, through the BA online portal or in-store. It’s also worth asking to add personal loyalty programme numbers to company flights – a great way to benefit from all that business travel.
- Sophisticated entertainment and leisure hubs
For those business travellers able to enjoy some leisure time during long layovers, airports are introducing some seriously impressive entertainment options. Seoul Incheon Airport, for example, offers a 330-yard driving range where travellers can improve their swing, while Singapore’s Changi Airport has two cinemas and game-console booths offering 24-hour entertainment – good excuses to kick back after a successful business meeting!
- More sanctuaries to unwind
There’s a growing trend in airports to offer comfortable and calming relaxation spaces. Dubai International’s ‘Zen Gardens’ is an indoor oasis, offering a peaceful place to work in lush green surroundings. Meanwhile, Heathrow’s No1 Lounge offers spa treatments to suit any schedule – the perfect way to decompress before a big meeting or celebrate that contract win.