Revenue Growth, Beyond Security

After a $65 million terminal expansion, Madison’s Dane County Regional Airport boasts a new, post-security central marketplace to drive concession revenues. Also, MSN plans to double ‘close in’ parking, while still grappling with installation of...

Creative Host selected Architectural Alliance — the firm MSN contracted for the renovation project — to construct the food and beverage locations while Paradies hired Atlanta-based Chuck Raymond Design. “We collaborated and worked closely with the airport, Chuck Raymond Design, and Architectural Alliance to ensure the integrity of the prairie style remained strong, complementing the new design,” explains Bobbi Passavanti, managing director of marketing and communications with The Paradies Shops.

The top bidders may have been in-house, but they still had to relocate and operate out of temporary facilities and kiosks for several months. The airport accommodated by providing three designated areas for each vendor, and Livingston states that the airport “didn’t lose a tremendous amount of sales revenue” during the interim. The timeline was staggered throughout the renovation, but most shops opened 60-90 days after beginning construction.

Maintaining the local aesthetic

Seeking to enhance the airport’s motif, and also inject a bit of local flavor, CHS tapped local concepts The Great Dane Pub & Grill and Ancora Coffee. Paradies filled its shelves with Wisconsinite paraphernalia.

“We wanted consumers to be aware that [the marketplace] aesthetically represented the community,” says Livingston.

“When you walk into Paradies’ Wisconsin Marketplace, it has a very good feel for Badger sports and products. Everyone who we talk to enjoys the fact that Ancora and Great Dane are here, and other travelers like the idea that there is a Quiznos and other products that they are familiar with nationwide.”

Reflecting the feel of surrounding communities has proved to be a successful approach for Creative Host Services. According to McOwan, travelers and visitors want a sense of place when visiting a local airport. “Each city has its own little nuances across the country, but you can’t put all local concepts in because you have a high percentage of passengers that come in and out who are not from Wisconsin or Madison particularly,” McOwan says.

‘Local’ has been successful from the retail perspective as well. On Paradies’ top-seller list at MSN, everything revolves around cheese. “Cheese remains our top-selling items,” says Paradies’ Passavanti. “We sell locally made cheese in our coolers that will last up to 24 hours without refrigeration. The Badger [products] are big sellers as well…cow-tipping shirts; cow paddies; cow droppings; believe it or not, these are on the bestseller list.”

Pre-security potential

Despite an industry emphasis on post-security concessions, AirProjects’ Ferraguto says pre-security locations shouldn’t be neglected. “You need a certain amount of pre-security [shops] for people who are coming to meet and greet and send people off,” Ferraguto says. “You need some for the employees who are working landside and some [arriving] passengers who want to pick up something; it’s just not the kind of split [airports] had previously.”

Livingston is “happy” with the end product, but states that “by no measure is it easy to develop an aggressive concession program for small airports. We’re not like [larger airports] with the flow that they see on a daily or annual basis. We’re at 1.6 million passengers, versus 80 million at Chicago or Atlanta.”

McOwan suggests that, at smaller airports vendors “have to look at what’s happening in terms of passenger numbers and passenger growth rates. You then have to look at the passenger profile, get the demographics, and then you have to make sure you put in a good mix of concepts — and split the square footage appropriately.”


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