Airport Dining Soars to New Heights

The same trends impacting the broader restaurant marketplace have made their way past airport security into food courts and terminals across the country. Travelers can now find locally sourced, freshly prepared, chef-​inspired dishes at just about any major domestic airport. And, at some locations, they can even find chefs in the back of the house, Sherri Daye Scott said in Airport Dining Lifts Off.

One can even find a James Beard Award-​nominated restaurant inside the Atlanta airport! "From One Flew South at Atlanta‰Ûªs Hartsfield- Jackson airport, to Nancy Silverton‰ÛÒhelmed Campanile at LAX, the quality of full-​service dining at airports has been elevated. In less than 45 minutes on average, a frequent flyer can dine on a meal on par with the finest restaurants in the country, complete with craft cocktails and five-​star service," FSR Magazine reports.

"Driving the shift are demands of travelers. Since the early 2000s, airport visitors have increasingly sought options that reflect their diverse needs and wants. Food and beverage sales accounted for $588 million in revenue for domestic airports in 2013, according to Airports Council International‰ÛÒNorth America," Daye Scott wrote.

"Another factor is that many airlines consider an airport‰Ûªs mix of food and retail offerings when choosing hubs; an airport that travelers like connecting through is good for business, and restaurant concepts that provide passengers with a heightened experience are often in demand."

"According to ACI-​NA, the median age band of domestic airline passengers is 35‰ÛÒ45 and the median household income band is $75,000 to $99,000. The number of U.S. residents taking to the skies is rising, too. In 2014, 657 million passengers took U.S. flights, up 2.2% from 2013, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics."

"The rewards can be great for restaurateurs. Traffic at airports is built-​in and predictable, with fewer peaks and valleys compared with street locations. Business travelers with expense accounts can mean higher check averages. Operating hours are often more work-​life-​balance friendly. Marketing costs are lower. And there is the added bonus of millions of travelers being exposed to your brand each year."

Restaurants with airport locations ‰ÛÒ especially franchises ‰ÛÒ can benefit from awareness campaigns geared to travelers, tourists, business travelers, vacationers and above all, frequent flyers. Many busy flyers have no idea there are gourmet options ‰ÛÒ let alone farm-​to-​table operators ‰ÛÒ available in the airports they zip in and out of. Let the frequent flyers know! According to AudienceSCAN, 14% of U.S. adults said they're members of Frequent Flyer Programs. 23% of them are aged 55–64. And 20% are in that disposable income bracket you want: $100,000-$150,000 earners. It makes perfect sense to approach frequent flyers in email advertising/​newsletters (26% respond to them) and in daily deals (32% reacted in the past month).

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.