Interview Spotlight: Steve Pinches, CEO of Collinson’s Airport Lounge Development
To create and deliver an exclusive lounge experience, airports must have a deep understanding of global traveller expectations. Steve Pinches, CEO of Collinson’s Airport Lounge Development (ALD) business reveals ALD’s vision to innovate the airport space and create exclusive experiences that Collinson can then make available to multi-national brands with a consistent service delivery.
We’re seeing an increase of airport lounge investment in the industry. What is ALD’s strategy to capitalise on the growing demand for common-use lounges?
ALD has an aggressive global growth plan and is in the enviable position to gain unmatched insight into the expectations and demands of the world’s largest lounge membership audience. Our growth strategy incorporates 25+ years of traveller and airport lounge guest marketing and research. This insight allows ALD to develop a realistic and financially sustainable global lounge growth scheme. We have immediate plans to grow our U.S. lounge portfolio by over 30 per cent in early 2019 and have secured additional non-U.S. lounge opportunities that will increase our global network by over 40 per cent.
As the ALD global lounge network expands how are you innovating the guest experience in your lounges?
Today’s traveller desires an airport experience that fits into their daily lives. Millennials put technology and unique experiences at the centre of their travel, while ‘bleisure’ travellers desire a mix of business and leisure. To meet these demands, ALD is designing our clubs using a traveller-centric model that focuses on personalisation over standardisation. This provides quality hospitality experiences that engage passengers from the moment they step into one of our lounges.
In the past, travellers viewed airports merely as a transition space. Now, people crave valuable experiences at every part of their journey. To meet these demands, The Club lounges operate like micro-communities, giving visitors a taste of the city that the lounge is located. Today there are 1.2 billion global travellers and 1.8 billion projected by 2030. We are seeing an increase in the traveller consciousness and social responsibility. ALD is proud to support this movement with a variety of initiatives. We have implemented a 100 per cent environmentally-friendly bar by eliminating all plastics and our wine programme, Pours for a Purpose, donates to a variety of charities around the world. The Club lounges feature eight wine labels that donate to organisations such as Jean-Luc Colombo’s salvation of bees and the Hole In The Wall Gang benefiting children with terminal disease.
How has ALD’s Club network been received to date?
ALD has received exceptional feedback from its guests. Our focus on brand standards and service values has gained prestigious recognition in the Priority Pass Lounge Of The Year Awards for the past four years. In 2017, ALD’s lounges won ‘Best Attitude and Service’ and ‘Best Business Facilities’ among Priority Pass’ global network of 1,100 lounges. In 2018, The Club Aspire lounge at London Heathrow T3 ranked highly in the Skytrax World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge award. Most recently, ALD was proud to receive the 2018 Travel Weekly Magellan Award for Overall Airport Lounge for The Club at Pittsburgh International Airport and The Club SJC was recognised Number One in the 2018 USA Today Top10 Airport Services and Amenities.
As passenger expectations continue to rise, where do you see the future of the airport industry in terms of passenger experience?
With online shopping expected to grow to over $4.8 trillion by 2021, there will continue to be increased customer demand for web-connected and digital retail experiences. Placing digital at the centre of an airport’s passenger experience will create a more convenient airport journey. ALD and our parent company, Collinson, are keenly aware of the importance of e-commerce and customer convenience. Collinson announced a significant investment in airport e-commerce platform GRAB in Sepember 2018. The GRAB mobile app allows travellers to skip queues at the airport by ordering ahead, with the aim of “enhancing customer choice and eliminating extensive wait times”. Guests of ALD’s clubs will benefit from the convenience of shopping at airport retailers while relaxing in the comfort of The Club lounge experience.