|Denver International Airport opened no fewer than nine new concessions during the second half of 2008, placing a particular emphasis on locally-produced concepts. David Davies reports|
To begin, a few statistics for your consideration: Denver International Airport is (deep breath!) the largest international airport in the US in land size (53 square miles), the second-largest international airport in the world after King Fahd International, and, at last count (in 2007) the eleventh busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic. Still not enough facts for you? Then just consider the fact that Denver International Airport (DIA) is also home to the longest public use runway in the US.
In short, DIA is a very significant proposition in the scheme of global aviation. Providing a home to airlines including Frontier, Great Lakes, United and Southwest, the airport is a firm favourite with business and leisure travellers and has received a stream of high-profile accolades, including ‘America’s Best Run Airport’ from Time magazine in 2002.
As might be expected, the airport places a significant emphasis on providing a comprehensive and well-rounded retail operation for its many millions of travellers. And, as Frontier found out recently, it is an offer that has grown considerably during the last few years.
Nine new concessions
The most recent stage of work – in the second half of 2008 – saw no fewer than nine new concessions join the DIA retail offer, primarily situated in the internal flight-orientated Concourse B. A Massage Inc provides (not surprisingly) chair and foot massage services, in addition to extended table massages and related spa products for purchase. Bella retails a broad selection of prestige cosmetics, skincare and bath/body lines, while Brookstone sells a wide assortment of consumer products – everything from household tools to travel accessories. In addition, Johnston & Murphy offers men’s apparel, shoes, belts, wallets and luggage; Kazoo & Company Toy Store sells a selection of creative and educational toys and games; and Mile High Harley-Davidson provides a range of merchandise in celebration of the iconic motorcycle, including T-shirts, hats and toys.
The new concessions are rounded out by three new food & beverage outlets. Caribou Coffee complements the Caribou Coffee unit in Jeppesen Terminal and provides coffee and tea specialties, along with baked goods and other snacks. Jamba Juice specialises in blend-to-order fruit smoothies and juices, while Tamales by La Casita – located in Concourse C’s Food Court – serves authentic Mexican cuisine, including tamales, enchiladas and breakfast burritos.
Collectively, the new outlets underline an ongoing focus on concepts devised by businesses in the Denver area. “Of the nine new businesses, all but two – Johnston & Murphy and Brookstone – are local-owned concepts,” confirms Leah Older, management analyst, concessions – revenue & marketing at DIA.
The latest concessions also reflect, logically enough, the relative popularity of various product categories at the airport. “Food & beverage tends to be the most popular product category, followed by news/books and speciality retail, respectively. While the popularity of these categories remains strong, there is a growing trend in airports to make concourses an exciting place to shop for retail as well as to make the concession programmes reflective of, and a positive statement about, the
local and regional community,” says Older.
DIA does not manage any of its F&B or retail concepts, preferring instead to operate a competitive proposal process.
“When the airport has a concession opportunity, a Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued, describing the opportunity – in other words, the available space(s), desired concept, requirements for operating at DIA, and required submittal documents,” explains Older.
The retail team is certainly going to be busy readying RFPs over the next few years – indeed, Older says that DIA plans to issue “20 to 30 RFPs” for forthcoming opportunities in 2009 and 2010. More imminently, the airport expects a number of new concessions – including The Denver Chop House and Jet Pets Boutique – to open their doors in 2009, along with several others to be announced at a later date.
In addition, a number of other outlets are set to revamp and refresh their existing offers. “In order to keep the programme fresh and dynamic, it is important for concessionaires to upgrade their facilities from time to time,” claims Older. “We anticipate that 15-20 businesses will remodel in 2009.”
Customer service focus
To put it mildly, then, there is no shortage of activity surrounding retail and F&B at DIA. Emboldened with new concessions and the plans of some operators to upgrade existing shops, DIA is clearly very committed to providing a varied and effective retail offer.
Moreover, the airport also appears to be coping well with the current downturn in traffic levels precipitated by the global economic crisis. In fact, DIA only began to register a decline in passenger numbers from October last year.
Moving forward, Older implies that customer service will be a key component of DIA retail operators’ strategy to secure retail sales and build customer loyalty. “We believe that developing a culture of great customer service is one of the best steps a concessionaire can take to guarantee their success,” she says. “We encourage our concessions to focus on their existing customers by providing great customer service and an appealing and fresh product at the right price, in a well-run, well-stocked, well-merchandised and clean store.”
This certainly sounds like a prescription for retail success to Frontier. Expect, then, to see Denver International Airport remain at the forefront of both US and global travel-retail for many years to come.
Denver International Airport
Owner: City & County of Denver Department of Aviation
Location: North-eastern Denver, Colorado
Number of runways: 6
Terminals: Jeppesen, Concourse A, Concourse B, Concourse C