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Commercial Strategy in Airports

Picture of Ana Perez

Ana Perez

AERTEC / Airport Planning & Design


The number of passengers flying is constantly increasing on a worldwide level, and commercial revenues are consequently growing. However, the average expenditure per passenger is declining in many airports.

That is why airport managers must transform their commercial strategy in order to adapt to new technology, which should include the possibility of enhancing the use of digital solutions.

The commercial strategy in airports must involve all stakeholders, including everyone from the airport manager to passengers.

Airports need to combine digital commerce solutions with traditional commercial strategies available in the terminal.

In order to develop a digital business strategy in an airport, all stakeholders must be involved: airport operators, concessionaires, airlines and passengers, with the aim of increasing revenue from the synergies between them.

Every day more and more airports offer services through apps that allow you to order food from a smartphone, selecting a pick-up zone before boarding.

In the same way, while using Wi-Fi on board the aircraft, passengers will be able to access the commercial offering available at the destination airport, being able to make purchases during the flight and request the delivery of products to either the airport itself or else to their home address.

In order to involve passengers in the process of developing the commercial offer, loyalty programmes should be created, which along with special offers and promotions provide passengers with value-added services, such as real-time information about waiting times and availability of parking spaces. At the same time, user data provide information on passenger preferences, which airports can work on in order to improve passenger experience.

From the point of view of the physical commercial offering, identifying how, when and where passengers interact with the terminal is essential for airport concessions. The goal is to identify behaviours and be able to position the concessions in a way that will best meet the needs of passengers. This strategy not only increases profitability, but also increases passenger satisfaction.

To optimise the positioning of concessions, the passenger footprint is used, which is the number of passengers that flow along a certain path toward a specific point. Knowing the passenger footprint is crucial, as it is one of the indicators that allow the value of a concession to be determined according to its location, due to potential revenue.

An increase in passenger footprint will result in an increase in sales opportunities in commercial concessions. However, this is not always an advantage. If the passenger footprint is too big, it will increase the perceived level of congestion, hamper the flow of passengers, and will affect the service quality perceived by passengers.

Dynamic simulation with specialised software (CAST, AirTOp, etc.) has become an essential tool that can analyse the passenger footprint in different situations of peak traffic. These tools allow the distribution of concessions to be optimised during the design phase.

Schiphol, Heathrow and Dallas Fort-Worth airports are pioneers in the development of these types of commercial strategies, resulting in increased commercial revenues.


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