The Healthy Eating in Airports trend is continuing to be a major thrust as per our investigations of several Airports in North America as well as in Europe.
Airports such as Toronto Pearson are currently investing in infrastructure and human resources to refurbish the Food & Beverage operations in support of new brands, local operator presence and e-menus.
Searching the topic on Google provides a full page of coverage by media, magazines and specialty blogs. The real value to passengers in providing information of what and where to eat in Airports is obvious and the typical review is bliss to those seeking personal meal choices.
One issue with this “media approach” for information is that it’s static in nature. You often find the review and the meal recommendation on line in a search, only to find the information or article is 4 years old. Airport directories tend to be a better bet and more airports are becoming resourceful in providing nutritional information in the form of tables, downloads. Some are now offering e menus.
Another issue is actually having the menu vetted against a nutritional benchmark. In the Toronto Pearson example, they have actually hired a Registered Dietitian to work with the operations to create and manage information to be made available to passengers. Not all are doing this however.
What is really valuable to passengers is a personal view of what they prefer, often based on their need to maintain health over multiple airport destinations. The permutations are extensive when considering Time, Location and Context (TLC).
Airports would have an advantage if they knew incoming passenger preferences and needs, specifically in terms of arrival time of day (what meal would they need based on their time of origin?) ethnic or cultural needs, travel plans (going to a hotel, the Toronto Zoo, a conference or connecting flight ?) and time available to manage intra gate movements.
Airport marketing could turn this into a competitive advantage by being part of this Global landscape. Airports can turn their Social Media presence to promote events that engage passengers with in-airport promotion of local offerings, communities (local, ethnic, events, sports etc.), all the while providing an essential service.
Airports should not work in a vacuum when it comes to the healthy eating infrastructure if they choose to support this vision. Like flight data, the network of passenger information and localization of services and products, this needs to be an open environment spanning multiple airports, in order to be truly useful over time.
Passengers are now mobile and always connected. They typically choose to remain connected to services which are useful in day to day travel. They will (depending on travel type) pay a premium to stay focused on their health issues, especially when it comes to their wellness related needs.
It is important to realize then that independent Airport “apps” and mobile directories only detract from the potential of an open network of healthy eating eco-system. No one entity would “own" the network and use it as an advertising channel or items of “no passenger value”.
The Healthy Eating Eco- System
What is developing is the framework for a “Plug and Play” eco-system for Airport services that supports the passenger needs for healthy eating options. This must always be considered in terms of their unique view of Time, Location and Context- or “TLC”.
In this way, Airports simply manage what they offer and provide basic information to the healthy eating eco-system, then they and their passengers would benefit from it by being syndicated with among other progressive, global airports. This allows a simple but effective way to scope trends, create personalized offers and develop new relationships with the multiple origin/ destination airports via marketing programs.
The Healthy Eating Eco-System provides a simple but effective dashboard as part of Airport Service Quality (ASQ) metrics via interfaces on various passenger devices (smart phones, tablets etc.), kiosks or interactive restaurant menu tablets. Not only would the ASQ benefit from this real-time data, but the Passenger Experience Index enables Airport benchmarking for what is working and what trends to invest future investments in over time.
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