Airports, airport retailers missing opportunities to serve, generate revenue from travelers

As airports seek to maximize non-aeronautical revenue, NCR four-country survey finds many travelers still unaware of, not shopping airport retail; travelers would welcome mobile offers

DULUTH, Ga. – Airports and airport retailers looking to better serve and generate more revenue from today’s time-starved and mobile-enabled travelers are missing opportunities to do so, according to a survey of travelers in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for NCR Corporation, a leader in airline and airport self-service, retail, wayfinding and mobile solutions.

According to the survey, 23% of travelers in Germany, 30% in France, 34% in the United Kingdom and 35% in the United States said they find it difficult to find the stores, restaurants and other retail offerings at airports in the limited amount of time they have.

Considering that over 1.5 billion people travel by air each year, these findings represent a huge amount of lost revenue potential from travelers who may have been interested in making purchases at an airport retailer, restaurant or service provider but feared getting lost or missing a flight because they weren’t sure where the outlets were located.

Airports have seen an increase in non-aeronautical revenue in recent years and are increasingly looking to boost this revenue as airline consolidation and other factors cut the revenue airports can generate from airlines.  Expanding retail, restaurant and service operations and encouraging more travelers to shop while at the airport are key places airports are looking for these dollars.

“This survey highlights the vast untapped potential airports still have to serve travelers who have the time and inclination to shop,” said Tyler Craig, vice president and general manager, NCR Travel.  “Airports today get nearly 50% of their revenue from non-aviation sources.  By employing some of the technologies used by today’s retailers such as mobile marketing and interactive, digital signage, airports can more effectively communicate with and make offers to travelers, boosting revenue while making their airports more welcoming, entertaining and user-friendly.”

In France, Germany and the United Kingdom, 65%, 57% and 53%, respectively, of survey participants agreed that an alert on their mobile phone letting them know they should begin making their way to their gate and showing them the way would encourage them to shop more and alleviate their fear of missing a flight (this question was not asked in the U.S. survey). 

Mobile solutions also have the potential to drive retail purchases at airport stores and restaurants, with 48% of travelers in Germany, 40% in the United States and 36% in both France and the United Kingdom listing “Retail or food discount coupons delivered to your mobile device or paper boarding pass” as the top incentive to shop more at airports.  Other technologies that might tempt travelers to shop more, according to the survey, include self-checkouts to speed retail transactions and endless aisle technology allowing shoppers to browse for and purchase merchandise not available in the airport store and having those items delivered to their homes following their trips. 

The survey uncovered a large segment of completely untapped potential customers, with 21% of travelers in the United States, 18% in France, 15% in Germany and 12% in the United Kingdom responding that they never purchase anything at the airport.

Food, beverages and reading material like books, magazines and newspapers are among the most popular items travelers in the four countries said they purchase at the airport.  In the United States, 73% of shoppers said they purchased food or drink at the airport, compared to 60% in the United Kingdom, 43% in Germany and only 23% in France.  In the United Kingdom, 65% of travelers said they purchased books, newspapers or magazines at the airport, compared to 63% of travelers in Germany, 53% in France and 48% in the United States.

Among items surveyed, only between 2% and 4% of travelers in the four countries surveyed indicated they had purchased services like manicures, massage, haircuts or business lounge access at airports.

“It’s not surprising that services should be so low on the list,” Craig continued, “since in many airports these services are newer offerings or offerings travelers may not know they can get at the airport.  For the retailers offering such services, there may be opportunities to boost consideration and use with mobile- or printed-boarding pass advertising or offers.  Airports may also consider wayfinding solutions as a way to direct travelers to these services to maximize revenue for the store owner and the airport.”

NCR will be showcasing a variety of the company’s travel and transaction solutions to address travelers’, airport operators’ and retailers’ needs in the airport retail and self-service environment at the upcoming Passenger Terminal Expo (PTE) in Vienna, Austria from April 18 to 20.  NCR will be located in booth 4000.  For more information about these survey results, please email

The online surveys were conducted in March of 2012 in each country by ORC International for NCR.  Approximately 1,000 consumers were surveyed in each country.

About NCR Corporation
NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a global technology company leading how the world connects, interacts and transacts with business. NCR’s assisted- and self-service solutions and comprehensive support services address the needs of retail, financial, travel, hospitality, entertainment, gaming, public sector, telecom carrier and equipment organizations in more than 100 countries. NCR ( is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia.
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