INTERNATIONAL. Improving dwell time and offering broader choice and value are among the keys to driving airport non-aeronautical revenue, according to Swiss airport market research firm DKMA.

Fifteen airports from Europe, Asia and North America took part in the Airport Retail and F&B Survey in 2013. Participating airports were: Bergen, Delhi, Dubai, Keflavik, Mauritius, Montréal, Mumbai, Oslo, Ottawa, Québec City, Southampton, Stavanger, Tampa, Trondheim and Winnipeg. DKMA surveyed nearly 30,000 passengers for the study.

The survey showed that an airport’s most satisfied passengers are twice as likely to shop and spend +7% more than the average on retail and +10% more on duty free.

DKMA said: “From a commercial perspective, airports are in the enviable position of having a captive audience. But just because passengers are trapped in an airport doesn’t guarantee they will actually shop in it.

“To reap the benefits airports need to provide the type of experience that puts passengers in the mood to shop. In short they need to focus on making passengers happy.”

DKMA added: “Analysis of publicly available data from airports around the world indicates that on average, an improvement in global satisfaction with the airport of 0.1 (on a 5 point scale) leads to an increase in non-aeronautical revenue per enplaned passenger of US$0.80.

“Therefore improving the passenger experience should be a strategic goal for all airports seeking to grow commercial revenue. Unfortunately most airport commercial data focuses on spending patterns and fails to link these with satisfaction levels leaving airport managers without the insight they need to achieve this.”

Even if passengers have pre-planned their purchase, once they get to the airport there are many factors that can prevent them from buying, as the table above illustrates

In its findings, DKMA outlined four areas airports need to address. These are: promoting the airport as a shopping destination; improving the choice available; improving the perceived value of the retail offering; and getting passengers to spend more time in the airport.

Promote the airport as a shopping destination
One of the key insights of the survey is the importance of pre-planned purchases. DKMA said the problem airports face is that currently only a small proportion of passengers pre-plan their purchases at home. The percentage of passengers who pre-plan F&B and duty free purchases, regardless of whether or not they bought something, are 37% and 31% respectively while (non-duty free) retail is 16%.

The figures are significantly higher for passengers who did buy something at the airport with the exception of retail: 58% of passengers pre-planned F&B purchases as did 72% of passengers for duty free. However, 55% of those who made other retail purchases decided to do so at the airport.

Passengers who came to the airport with the intention of buying were three times more likely to purchase F&B, six times more likely to purchase retail and eight times more likely to purchase duty free. They also spent +24% more on F&B, +39% more on retail and +40% more on duty free.

By promoting the airport as a shopping destination and adopting a more commercially-focused mentality, airports can take advantage of where the purchase decision will be made. DKMA emphasised the importance of the airport’s website – the passenger’s first point of contact with the airport.

Its research showed that users have to hunt to find information on restaurants and shops on most airport websites and that the results are usually limited to a list of brands and locations. To sell the airport as an enticing shopping destination, DKMA said airport websites need to be more engaging.

Improve the choice available to passengers
Another key area for airports to address is improving the choice available to passengers. While the survey found passengers to be generally satisfied with the service they receive, they are unhappy with the choice of brands and products that airports offer.

In F&B, passengers were most satisfied with cleanliness of facilities, friendliness of staff and availability of seating. They were least satisfied with choice of bars and restaurants, choice of menus and value for money.

In retail, passengers were most satisfied with ease of finding shops, friendliness of staff and speed of service. They were least satisfied with choice of products, choice of shops and value for money.

In duty free specifically, passengers were most satisfied with friendliness of staff, ease of finding shops and speed of service. They were least satisfied with choice of products, choice of shops and value for money.

To address the issue of the number of outlets or products they can offer, the report said airports need to find ways to improve the perception of choice among passengers. DKMA suggested diversifying the mix of brands available to appeal to a larger portion of passengers.

Improve the perceived value of the retail offering
To improve the perceived value of the retail offering, airports need to consider the reasons for passengers not making a purchase, even if they intended to.

Not having enough time was one of the top reasons for not purchasing in F&B and duty free. The report said if airports want to get passengers to spend time shopping instead of sitting at the gate, they have to provide better value.

In non-duty free retail, more than 45% of passengers who came to the airport with the intention of buying go away empty handed, the survey found.

To improve this, airports need to identify ways to create more perceived value to convince passengers they should buy at the airport rather than wait for the next occasion. Given that most retail sales are impulse purchases, DKMA advises airports to position shops so they are seen by as many passengers as possible.

Get passengers to spend more time in the airport
While the amount of time passengers spent at the airport in 2012 and 2013 remained constant at 95 minutes on average, the amount of time they spent shopping dropped in 2013 (see chart below).

Average passenger spends were also down in 2013 from the previous year (see chart below).

Ways of addressing this include ensuring processes do not eat up too much of the time passengers have at the airport and increasing dwell time as much as possible. Passengers who spend more than 60 minutes at the airport are +33% more likely to buy F&B, +27% more likely to buy retail and +13% more likely to buy duty free than passengers who spend fewer than 60 minutes at the airport.

The solution to this goes back to improving passenger satisfaction levels, DKMA said. If passengers are satisfied with an airport they are more likely to view it as part of their trip and change their travel habits to spend more time there, the survey showed.

DKMA said that to drive non-aeronautical revenue, airports need to look beyond improving shops and restaurants and consider the whole travel experience – from processes to wayfinding to washrooms.