No food for you

21Jan08

The last time I checked, most airports have flights arriving and departing well past 8 pm. But I’ve come across numerous airports, such as Denver and Fort Lauderdale, that shut down nearly all the restaurants and shops at 8 o’clock. I know people would buy stuff well past that time, since vendors are busy in Chicago, Minneapolis and other airports at 8 pm and later. Assuming the concession operators want to make money, why on earth do they close so early?

Maybe their electricity costs increase after 8. Or there’s a local curfew. Or those towns have a vampire problem. Frankly, I can’t think of any good reason to shut down so early. If you’ve got a captive audience of shoppers, why not stay open later and sell more? Heck, most retailers are open until 9 pm, and they don’t even have the guaranteed traffic that an airport provides. If I operated a concession company, I’d take a long hard look at the traffic numbers for the times that my stores aren’t open. If those numbers don’t vary much from the regular operating hours, it’s probably worth giving the “extended” hours a try.

One final thought on this: Airport restaurants and stores should stay open later — much later — during major weather delays. People who end up unexpectedly stranded in the airport are going to need food and supplies that they didn’t plan for. If you can provide that for them, it means lots of happy customers and higher revenues. Actually, let me clarify that: while they probably won’t be happy with the airline delays, at least they’ll be pleased that food and supplies are close at hand.



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