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Airport experience must evolve to growing travel needs

Author: Theodore Koumelis / Date: Wed, 11/28/2018 - 02:41
L-R: Ching-Ching Ni, Vivian Cheung, Song Hoi-see, David Yeung, Gary Cheng
Plaza Premium Group vision boards for Future of Airport Experience
Plaza Premium Group Management Team cake cutting moment in celebration of the Group’s 20th Anniversary
L-R: Ching-Ching Ni, Vivian Cheung, Song Hoi-see, David Yeung, Gary Cheng

Airport Experience: Key to the Future of Travel Forum organised by Plaza Premium Group on 21st November, 2018 at Hong Kong Maritime Museum

Hong Kong - With the up rise in air travel, airports and travel service providers must reinvent themselves to market demands and will continue to evolve to embrace the future.

During the Airport Experience: Key to the Future of Travel Forum organised by Plaza Premium Group, pioneer and industry leader of Global Airport Hospitality solutions on 21st November, 2018 at Hong Kong Maritime Museum, a panel of forward-thinking industry experts (listed below) gathered to share predictions and insights on travel evolution and how industry practitioners should prepare for the future of better airport experience. 

  • Vivian Cheung, Deputy Director, Aviation Development, Airport Authority Hong Kong
  • David Yeung, Founder & CEO of Green Monday
  • Gary Cheng, Destination Marketing APAC TripAdvisor
  • Song Hoi-see, Founder & CEO of Plaza Premium Group 

Moderated by Ms. Ching-Ching Ni, Editor-in-Chief of New York Times Chinese Magazine, the panel discussion covered key topics as below: 

1. Technology should not replace genuine personalisation: human touch 

Vivian Cheung, Deputy Director Aviation Development, Airport Authority Hong Kong shared the key considerations while creating a seamless airport journey, “Originally, there were three things to consider, Hardware - the facilities in an airport; Software, the process of your airport journey, and the Heartware, the courtesy and service you experience. We have recently also added Smartware: the introduction of futuristic technology such as biometric facial recognition, high-speed Wi-Fi and airport apps that introduce online shopping and indoor navigation to everything at the airport. Having said that, when airports focus on efficiency, service providers must not forget the “smile.”

Plaza Premium Group’s Founder and CEO Song Hoi-see agreed with the importance of hospitality and the personal touch, “Travel has become a way of life and routine for many which is why airports need to incorporate more lifestyle elements to adapt to this change. A travel lifestyle should always include Comfort, Convenience, Value and very importantly, Love and Care.”

2. Everyone is a traveller

“We must appreciate that everyone is a traveller. There are different needs for different travel types, culture and behaviour. Therefore, in our existing and upcoming Plaza Premium Lounge experiences, you will find Spa, business corner, meeting room, nursery room, kids room, yoga room, prayer room etc.”, added Mr. Song.

Gary Cheng from TripAdvisor, the world’s largest online travel platform that has just launched a new dynamic, social-centric interface, and the panel discussed that technology we have today such as big data enables digital personalisation, a powerful tool to anticipate and predict what individual travellers need even before they have thought about it themselves.

All panellists agree that although predictive analytics help improve user engagement, it will never replace the social, cultural emotional aspects amongst human beings. 

3. Millennials Are Driving the Change

Also on the panel, the influence of millennials who appreciate emotional experiences during travels was discussed. Plaza Premium Group recognised the power of millennials. “Millennials are the travellers now and the future of travels, they are also the ones spending ample time in the airport as transit and stopover travel patterns become more popular, economical and provide more experiential experiences as this generation requires. Airport hospitality must reinvent to serve this needs,” Mr. Song said.

David Yeung, Founder & CEO of Green Monday, a multi-faceted social venture that drives the movement of consuming plant-based diet commented on the millennials’ mentality, “In addition to emotional experiences, millennials look for authenticity and corporate social responsibility in companies, they care if companies use their network and platform to change the world for the better”.

4. Wellness: Travellers & Our Planet

“It is crucial to be mindful of life and planet wellness, and this should be available anytime, anywhere, especially airports. When landing or arriving to any city, airports are always the first and last touchpoints, making your impression of the city a lasting one. Mr. Song has introduced the Beyond Burger, our plant based burger to their Plaza Premium First lounge in Hong Kong International Airport last July, the first airport lounge in Asia Pacific ever to offer our plant-based burger. The mission of Green Monday is not to duplicate meat, but to surpass it, as the food supply chain is far from efficient,” David Yeung shared.

Mr. Song responded, “It has been an amazing beginning to creating a more sustainable and responsible airport dining experience with Green Monday and we look forward to bringing this initiative across our global network.”

5. Airports are Destinations on its own

Airports are becoming more crowded, and together, they are all expanding to cater to high volume of passengers. “Travellers now have a choice to which airports they wish to travel or transit to and it is crucial to stay ahead of the game when it comes to creating a seamless end-to-end customer centric airport experience. As travellers become more discerning, they expect a smooth and interactive airport journey, meaning the use of technology to increase efficiency, food and beverage choices to suit different dietary requirements and airport experiences for different travel needs in the terminal that provide comfort, convenience, love and care,” Mr. Song concluded.

Attended by over 150 industry experts from the aviation industry, world banks, financial institutions, developers and media, the forum provided our participants an opportunity to immerse themselves in intellectual conversations on future travel. In celebration of the Group’s 20th Anniversary, the forum was topped off with Plaza Premium Group experiential zones showcasing neck and shoulder massages by Refreshhh by Aerotel and an interactive zone by Arrture, the Group’s travel rewards programme. Participants received complimentary reward points by becoming a member on the day of the event. Canapés served by the Group’s culinary team highlighted the vision of future food and beverages including delicacies made with plant-based meat sponsored by Green Monday, Lavazza coffee cocktails and wine on tap sponsored by Treasury Wine Estates. 


Theodore Koumelis

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.