When it comes to generating non-aeronautical revenue at airports, industry leaders are looking at different ways to increase their bottom line and create a better overall passenger experience.
While concessions and vending have been stalwarts of building these revenues for years, Joe Yeagley, co-founder of FuelRod, says vending products like his should be viewed as a tool to build revenues, not necessarily generate them.
“The airports often see us initially as ‘hey, it’s another way to generate some revenue for the airport,’” he said. “Then I have a meeting with them and say ‘well that’s true, but when you really break down the amount of revenue you’re going to get from this program, it’s going to be rounding error compared to other ways you generate revenue at the airport.
“What you should be seeing is a way to keep your customers moving through your airport so that they can spend the money and take advantage of all the other things your airport has to offer.”
FuelRod has kiosks that offer charging units to passengers as they go through the airport. Yeagley said instead of viewing them as just another vending product, airports should look to these types of tools as a way to keep people from wall hugging and staying at the gate where they search for an outlet.
Two years ago, Yeagley said FuelRod put its first kiosk in San Diego International Airport (SAN), where it initially worked on selling units to passengers. It expanded to 16 airports by 2016 with contracts bringing it to 21 by the end of the year and as it has increased, there has been a noticeable change.
“When we first went into San Diego, we did the whole initial selling of the kit then saw swaps increase,” he said. “When we installed at Las Vegas, almost immediately, the swap activity was very high. It was almost twice that of the other airport.
“What that told us is travelers in the west that were going to Las Vegas already had a FuelRod in their pocket, so they could take advantage of that exchange service.”
Yeagley said it can be challenging for airports to find space to fit charging kiosks, especially in older facilities with narrow hallways and space already filled out by other items. However, if an airport is going to look at power as a service program, they need to look at conveniently locating them in the terminal. He said they kiosks are small enough they can take space next to a garbage can.
“Airports, they know they have an issue,” he said. “The No. 1 or No. 2 constructive feedbacks they get from customers is the lack of accessible power for travel devices. So depending on where I come in and who I’m talking to, they generally already know there’s an issue and they’re looking for a solution, so now I can show them the viability of the solution.”