The Rise And Growth Of Airport Lounges
Airport lounges understand travellers with different cultures, behaviour, and needs. With comfort come accessible facilities like nursery rooms, kids’ rooms, prayer rooms etc.
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Flying has long dissociated itself from the dream-value of Wright brothers. The aviation industry has been on the rise since ever and the recent data released by India Brand Equity Foundation points to a growth of 16.52 per cent year on year to reach 308.75 million in FY18. In February 2019, the Government of India sanctioned the development of a new greenfield airport in Hirasar, Gujarat, with an estimated investment of Rs 1,405 crore (US$ 194.73 million). The rise in the number of consumers as well as the need to travel has highlighted more and more aspects of flying experience and the airline companies have made efforts to cater to their customers better and enhance the travel experiences. This has led to a steady rise in the Airport Lounge Market and business adventures like Plaza Premium Group that have emerged as major economic contributors.
The uncertainties about a travel plan are a significant source of stress to the passengers. Aside from the security hassles, there are concerns about food and rest amongst others that contribute to the overall travel experience. A passenger has to seek continually, throughout the journey, the answer to ‘what next’. On the other hand, airports too face difficulties balancing between passenger comfort and operational efficiency. Travelling can be tiring for passengers with long layovers and flight delays especially when one has to spend a night at the airport. This is where the airport lounges become convenient. Airport lounges have been operating for decades and those travelling for business know its value. However, these services have often been restricted to the business and first class flyers. But with the new developments in airports and evolving preferences of passengers, developers understand the different needs and have brought lounges in the reach of economy class passengers who can use these services for a nominal fee.
The airports over the world have been keen on satisfying the four R’s - Respite, Relax, Reconnect and Recharge by establishing a shared-use airport lounge. Unlike earlier, when airport lounges were exclusive niches accessible only to elite VIPs, they are now open to everyday leisure traveler who can enjoy the benefits of an airport lounge experience. It’s not easy for the airport authorities to run airports now because they have to continuously upgrade the quality expectation. This is where independent entrants in the airport lounge market are benefitting and expanding the aviation industry as a whole. These stakeholders who are signing deals with different airlines look to provide comfortable and varied seating with enough room, good food and beverage options, an extensive assortment of magazines and newspapers, large flat-screen TVs with different broadcast channels, a business area with computers, printers, photocopiers and even a fax machine, free Wi-Fi access, well maintained toilet areas with plenty of amenities, showers and quiet nap rooms designated for sleep. Nap Rooms are one of the biggest benefits offered for travellers to unwind after a long hectic schedule in between flights that cross time zones. These lounges also provide an opportunity to take a shower, spa and massage services which can be very refreshing and revitalizing.
With the pressure of increasing air traffic, and the pursuits of idea of accessibility of air travel and reasonability of prices, airlines and alliances have been looking for somebody to manage their lounges. The double-digit growth in the aviation sector in India has attracted investors and Mr. Song observes that India has a huge potential.
The continuing growth in the service sector with it being the dominant sector in the GDP of several nations, including India, the recent investments in this sector, and aviation sector in particular have kindled the spirit of this market further and added to its vigor. According to another IBEF report, the Indian facilities management market is expected to grow at 17 per cent till 2020 and surpass the US$ 19 billion mark booming real estate, retail, and hospitality sectors.
Not only in between flights, but the airport lounges are often used at arrival. With heavy and unpredicted traffic in India's metropolitan cities, many travellers prefer to arrive in early. For them, sitting in the lounge away from the concourse of passengers can be the perfect solution and a lot more comforting than wandering around the airport looking for a quiet spot. In addition to lounge stays, they also provide assistance in arrival, departure and transit with services like meet and greet, porter assistance, baggage handling and guidance to immigration. These airport lounges understand travellers with different cultures, behaviour, and needs. With comfort come accessible facilities like nursery rooms, kids’ rooms, prayer rooms etc.
This industry is growing tremendously with many international companies opening lounges in different airports of the world and India poses as lucrative potential market. Travelers are evolving, preferences are changing, technology is advancing and airports can’t afford to be left behind.
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