February 18, 2019

Trend Alert: Airport Innovation

We’ve been doing a lot of traveling at Tech Wildcatters. In the latter half of 2018 alone, we attended WeWork Summer Camp in London, visited some Silicon Valley OGs like Intel Capital, networked with 100s of investors at Web Summit in Lisbon, and capped the year by attending the largest Nordic tech conference, Slush, in Finland. As you can probably infer, we spend a lot of time in airports.

Rachel Chang stopping for a quick travel picture

Fortunately for Tech Wildcatters, we frequently fly out of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, an international hub in the heart of DFW. Our airport has done its due diligence to create terminals that aren’t just holding cells for travelers, but are mini havens for cross country commuters. Next time you fly through, make sure to check out the following:

VariDesk Coworking Space

The Varidesk Installation inside the airport

Local company VariDesk has opened a coworking space in Terminal C at DFW Airport. Sean Scogin, CMO of VariDesk, mentioned in a recent Dallas Innovates article that “the business traveler is often left out of the office workspace equation.” As a leader in supplying Fortune 500 companies with their desks and office accessories, VariDesk is looking to change the narrative. With standing desk workstations, casual meeting tables, 75 powerhubs for charging, and complimentary Wi-Fi, the VariDesk Coworking Space is the best place to get work done at DFW Airport.

Gameway

The Gameway installation

Perhaps my favorite addition to DFW Airport, Gameway makes waiting on your flight so much more fun! The video game lounge offers 36 stations, equipped with an Xbox One that is loaded with 19 games, a leather chair, 43" TV, noise cancelling headphones, charging ports for your electronic devices, and space to store your luggage. On a recent international trip, I spent my time playing Halo and admittedly almost missed my flight. You can check out my experience here. Located in Terminals B and E, you can get unlimited gameplay for $45.

American Airlines App

Traveling just got a little easier with the American Airlines App. The app is free and boasts features like free in-flight entertainment, same day changes, instant rebooking, mobile boarding passes, food on the go, baggage tracking, and more. My favorite feature is the airport map that allows you to search for your gate (or Starbucks) and gives you turn by turn directions like any other GPS system. I took the app for a spin in this recent video. I’m a little biased toward American Airlines because they’re a DFW-based company; however, I think they’re taking the lead on travel innovation.

Brand Vending Machines

The retail industry is not to be left behind when it comes to airport innovation. Over the years, big brand retailers have begun populating airports with vending machines that distribute full size products. Whether it be makeup, electronics, clothing, or forgotten travel items, you can pretty much find anything you need. If you think these vending machines go unnoticed, think again. A Uniqlo vending machine selling vests at the SFO airport reports an average of $10,000 in sales… per month.

If DFW Airport is any indicator, airport innovation is the next “big thing”. Here’s why you should consider jumping on board:

  • Captive Audience. Millions of people come in and out of airports on a daily basis, and all are required to do some waiting before their flight takes off. There is a huge opportunity for exposure and sales when you have a captive audience.
  • Consumer Test Market. Ever wonder how your product or idea will fair among a global population? Set up shop at an international airport and let the studying begin. Airports are an amalgamation of every culture under the sun.
  • Millennial Travelers. While travel is declining in other demographics, the millennial household was expected to travel 35% more in 2018. As millennials are a target consumer demographic for most companies, airports host a huge advantage.
  • Duty Free. One of the perks of shopping at an airport is the benefit of duty free purchases. What a consumer saves on taxes and duties, they can spend on something else. In 2017, DFW Airport opened the largest Duty Free store in the Americas. Located in Terminal D, the store has 2-levels and over 17,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

With all that being said, we hope the next time you travel, you’re able to enjoy your stay at the airport. Keep on the lookout as more companies take on airport innovation!


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