Tag Archives: Airports Council International-North America

10 Tips For The 2014 ACI-NA Excellence In Airport Concessions Awards

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Concessions at Orlando International Airport. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

I did a rare double Friday post to congratulate my original hometown airport, San Francisco International, on winning Airports Council International-North America’s Richard A. Griesbach Award for Excellence that recognizes an overall concession program.

I’ve been a judge for the awards since 2008, so I now have a good sense of what works — and what works with entries from airports and concessionaires. So, in that spirit, I’m offering advice on what folks should do next year when preparing their applications.

  1. Show me the money. Folks, there’s a reason why the application includes boxes for the financials, so please use them!
  2. Get the (right)  picture. If you want to include photos with your entry, pay a professional to do them. And please – resist the temptation to show blurred photos of travelers passing by the venue, workers in obviously posed positions, or pictures that don’t show the actual scale of the operation.
  3. Let’s go to the video! But let’s only do it if it’s a quality video. Please don’t submit something shot on your smartphone or someone in house with no video experience.
  4. What’s in a name? Look — just because it’s a concept that has a celebrity name (like Cat Cora’s Kitchen) doesn’t mean it should be submitted for an excellence award. Back it up with strong numbers.
  5. Quality, not quantity. Don’t just submit every concept in your portfolio across different airports and hope something sticks. Take the time to cull through your concepts and only send in the best ones.
  6. My eyes, my eyes! Some presentations either had tiny type that was very hard to read or they packed way too much information on one PowerPoint slide.
  7. Speaking of eyes… Have a fresh pair of eyes outside of your team that put together the presentation( like maybe your partner airport)  take a look at it.  You can get some valuable insight that can only help your application.
  8. Where in the world am I? I’ve been in more than my fair share of airports, but no one can remember every layout. So please include a map that gives the judges a sense of where the concession is located.
  9. Communicate. Airports and their concessionaires need to discuss what concepts should be submitted. On more than one occasion, judges have wondered why one concept was submitted while another wasn’t.
  10. Size doesn’t matter.  Include your larger vendors, but don’t neglect smaller shops and even kiosks for awards submission. If the concept is unique enough, it deserves to be put before the judges.

Why San Francisco International Airport Won ACI-NA’s Griesbach Award

Every year, I get the honor of being one of three judges at Airports Council International-North America’s (ACI-NA) 2013 Airport Concessions Awards. These awards tout the best of the best in airport  food/beverage, retail and service concessions. I’ve been a judge since 2008, and each year, the competition has done nothing but improved.

In my travels, I’ve seen how airports have stepped up their games, and that was reflected in the record number of entries this year.  And the pinnacle of those awards is the Richard A. Griesbach Award of Excellence winner. The award honors Griesbach, whose influence on the commercial development of airports extended far beyond his employment with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees Washington National and Washington Dulles airports.

Despite so many airports worthy of the overall honor, it was clear in the judging room that San Francisco was the right pick.  I have written extensively about what makes airport concessions program successful.  That includes outlets that offer a sense of place and a good mix of national, regional and local concepts.  And it doesn’t hurt if you can get those in facilities like the International Terminal and Terminal 2, as you do at SFO.

And let’s look at some of those concepts. On the retail side, it ranges from luxury brands like Gucci and Coach, to local ones like Ghirardelli Chocolate and SF Uncorked. On the food side, SFO has Vino Volo (one of my very favorite concessions), Wakaba, Napa Farms Market and Andale. And on the services side, there the Yoga room, the Freshen Up shower facility and a world-class art collection.

So next time you’re in my original hometown airport, take some extra time to see what makes it an award winner.

Related posts on airport concession

GQ’s List Of The 10 Best Airport Restaurants in America Is Spot On

Report: New York Airports Still Lag In Customer Amenities

Now Taking Off: Delta Air Lines, ATL International Terminal

Five Favorite Airports

Sacramento International Airport’s Terminal B – WOW!! (the 2012 Griesbach winner)

 

Best of Aviation Queen: My Top 10 Favorite Airport Concessions

Editor’s note: I’m now on day three in Palm Springs and you are on day three of the best-of. Today’s post, about my favorite airport concessions, first appeared on the blog Oct. 6, 2011. Cheers!

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of judging a contest put on by Airports Council International-North America to vote on the best airport concessions, covering food/beverage, retail and services. I wish I could tell you the winners, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.

Having spent time in hundreds of airports worldwide (and I have the pictures to prove it), I know what I like and what I don’t.  Below are 10 concessions, in no particular order, that I love to see in airports.

  1. Vino Volo: OK, I lied. This has to be my favorite concession, hands down.  It’s good wine, small plates of food and a quiet oasis with plenty of outlets.  What’s not to love, kids? I was at the grand opening of the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport opening back in April 2007 (check out my Towers and Tarmacs post here).
  2. Bijoux Terner: this store features clothing, hats, jewelery and other accessories, all priced at $10.  I’m a BIG fan of their pashimas and funky necklace/earring sets.
  3. XpresSpa: once at an airport conference, this company set up a full-service spa in the middle of the exhibition floor. Every day I was there to get a service, like a foot rub, a manicure or a massage. Pure genius!
  4. Salt Lick Barbecue: my family is from Texas, and one of the best barbecue restaurants in the state is this one.  They have outposts at Austin-Bergstrom International and Will Rogers airports, and the smell is just divine!!
  5. Renaissance Book Shop, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport: this is not your normal bookstore. They carry a great mix of new and used titles. Be careful-you could easily miss your flight browsing its extensive selection!
  6. Samsung Mobile Travel Lounge: I went on a tour of DFW Airport and stumbled on these.  They look like airline clubs and feature outlets, desks, flight monitors and televisions.  There are some ads for Samsung products, but it’s not offensive.
  7. Pet Parks, Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport: located in Terminals 2, 3 and 4, they offer a grassy area, mitts and bags to pick up poop and a watering station.
  8. Creative Kidstuff: I have a five-year-old daughter, and I like to get her unusual toys. My favorite airport toy store is this outpost at Salt Lake City International Airport. And they don’t mind if your kids touch the merchandise!
  9. La Carreta, Miami International Airport: I went to college with a bunch of Cubans, who introduced me to their food and coffee. I’ve never looked back.  And when I’m at the airport, I go straight here to get my coffee, my Cuban press sandwich and Lechon Asado. Mmmmm…..
  10. Nuts on Clark: I will not lie-I have routed myself on Southwest flights through Chicago Midway Airport so I can stop and get some of this addictive popcorn.  It comes in regular, cheese and caramel, and its to die for, kids.

 

Best Of: My Top 10 Favorite Airport Concessions

Editor’s note: kids, Aunt Benet is taking the week off to enjoy the holidays with the family. So please enjoy these best ofs this week.  Happy Holidays!!

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of judging a contest put on by Airports Council International-North America to vote on the best airport concessions, covering food/beverage, retail and services. I wish I could tell you the winners, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.

Having spent time in hundreds of airports worldwide (and I have the pictures to prove it), I know what I like and what I don’t.  Below are 10 concessions, in no particular order, that I love to see in airports.

  1. BWI Airport Vino Volo All photos by Benet J. Wilson

    Vino Volo: OK, I lied. This has to be my favorite concession, hands down.  It’s good wine, small plates of food and a quiet oasis with plenty of outlets.  What’s not to love, kids? I was at the grand opening of the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport opening back in April 2007 (check out my Towers and Tarmacs post here).

  2. Bijoux Terner: this store features clothing, hats, jewelery and other accessories, all priced at $10.  I’m a BIG fan of their pashimas and funky necklace/earring sets.
  3. XpresSpa: once at an airport conference, this company set up a full-service spa in the middle of the exhibition floor. Every day I was there to get a service, like a foot rub, a manicure or a massage. Pure genius!
  4. Salt Lick Barbecue: my family is from Texas, and one of the best barbecue restaurants in the state is this one.  They have outposts at Austin-Bergstrom International and Will Rogers airports, and the smell is just divine!!
  5. Renaissance Book Shop, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport: this is not your normal bookstore. They carry a great mix of new and used titles. Be careful-you could easily miss your flight browsing its extensive selection!
  6. DFW Airport Samsung Lounge

    Samsung Mobile Travel Lounge: I went on a tour of DFW Airport and stumbled on these.  They look like airline clubs and feature outlets, desks, flight monitors and televisions.  There are some ads for Samsung products, but it’s not offensive.

  7. Pet Parks, Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport: located in Terminals 2, 3 and 4, they offer a grassy area, mitts and bags to pick up poop and a watering station.
  8. Creative Kidstuff: I have a five-year-old daughter, and I like to get her unusual toys. My favorite airport toy store is this outpost at Salt Lake City International Airport. And they don’t mind if your kids touch the merchandise!
  9. La Carreta, Miami International Airport: I went to college with a bunch of Cubans, who introduced me to their food and coffee. I’ve never looked back.  And when I’m at the airport, I go straight here to get my coffee, my Cuban press sandwich and Lechon Asado. Mmmmm…..
  10. Nuts on Clark: I will not lie-I have routed myself on Southwest flights through Chicago Midway Airport so I can stop and get some of this addictive popcorn.  It comes in regular, cheese and caramel, and its to die for, kids.