Research From Airport Dimensions Underscores How the Airport Retail Environment Has Evolved and That Travelers Are Open to New Experiences

Dec. 22, 2022

New research from Airport Dimensions has pin-pointed how airports must adapt their retail and experience offerings to appeal to the modern traveler.

The data reveals, unsurprisingly, that practical factors make a significant difference when it comes to improving travelers’ passenger experiences. A substantial 80% of those surveyed cited comfortable seating as a top priority, with 78% listing a queue-free journey and 73% wanting better public transport to the airport in order to improve their airport experience. However, when delving deeper, the research revealed digital amenities are key, with a significant 71% saying a single-app-enabled journey would improve their experience, and two thirds (66%) saying they would like to be able to order food and beverages via an app. What’s more, 62% wanted to be able to shop online with delivery options to their homes, destination, or their flight.

More than half of travelers (59%) also stated that they would prefer to see retail space freed up to offer more space to other facilities at the airport – an increase of 2% since last year. This also comes in contrast to the just 7% of travelers (an increase from 5% last year) who said this would negatively impact their journeys.

Data from the research also revealed that today’s travelers are open to new experiences while at the airport. For example, nearly two thirds (64%) said health and wellness facilities appealed, 61% would like to see more grooming and showering facilities, and more than half (56%) would like the option of paid-for exclusive zones during their journey.

Classic walk-through duty free remains a popular retail option, with 60% of travelers saying they wanted to see more of it. There is also a notable desire for new retail options, with 54% keen to see more showrooms to test products and the same number of passengers sharing that they want more automated retail and vending machines. 55% of travelers also said that they want more retail opportunities in the lounge.

The research also detailed where travelers want to spend their money while at the terminal, seeing premium shopping and dining options remain on top, with 20% and 16% of discretionary spend from travelers assigned here respectively. Continuing the trend of travelers’ openness to new experiences, they are now looking to commit more than a fifth (21%) of their spend to new experiences such as sleep pods, gaming and wellness. Travelers have also shifted their discretionary spend over the last year to practicalities in their journeys, including airport transfers (up 27%), parking (up 18%) and a 13% increase in the desire to spend on lounge access.

Much spending at the airport remains impulsive. Gaming facilities are pre-booked by 26% and booked on the day by 35%, while wellness facilities similarly see pre-booking from 32% and on the day bookings by 41% of travelers. Even practical services such as airport parking (pre-booked by 43% and booked on the day by 42%) and airport transfers (pre-booked by 44% and booked on the day by 41%) saw similar last-minute bookings despite being necessary, and indeed, expected points of expenditure.

Mignon Buckingham, CEO of Airport Dimensions, said; “Our research underscores the importance of getting foundational elements of the airport experience right. But beyond this, travelers are open to new offers and services and want to spend in new ways. Providing seamless, end-to-end digital journeys are a solution to dramatically improve the airport experience and better appeal to today’s traveler. Too much spending is motivated by impulse, and to maximise revenue, airports must do more to promote pre-booking of services.”

The Airport Dimensions Changing Airport Experience survey was conducted in partnership with leading market research agency Dynata. The research draws from the experiences of more than 8,500 air travelers covering a wide and representative cross-section of demographics.