HUBS of Com­merce

More than just land­ing strips, to­day’s air­ports are con­nec­tiv­ity nodes in vast en­ter­prises that span the globe

Business Traveler (USA) - - TAKE OFFS & LANDINGS - By Dr. John D. Kasarda

If you are not in a dash to the gate, take a walk around ma­jor air­port pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nals and their ad­join­ing ar­eas.You will ob­serve an amaz­ing com­mer­cial and cul­tural meta­mor­pho­sis. No longer re­stricted to book and mag­a­zine shops, food courts, and duty-free out­lets, air­ports now house gal­le­rias and shop­ping streets fea­tur­ing brand name bou­tiques, spe­cialty re­tail and up­scale restau­rants, along with live mu­sic, arts, en­ter­tain­ment and cul­tural attractions.

Lo­cally and re­gion­ally themed ter­mi­nal de­signs con­trib­ute to place iden­tity and to city and re­gional mar­ket­ing. The tran­sit area of Sin­ga­pore Changi’s new Ter­mi­nal 4, for ex­am­ple, has been de­signed to fea­ture Per­anakan shop houses sym­bol­iz­ing “Old Sin­ga­pore.”Cleve­land Hop­kins In­ter­na­tional Air­port is de­vel­op­ing a mu­sic-themed tun­nel in co­op­er­a­tion with the city’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Mu­seum. Adding to a sense of place iden­tity are lo­cally based mer­chan­dise and din­ing out­lets such as Indy 500 Authen­tics in In­di­anapo­lis’ter­mi­nal, and the well­known Mem­phis bar­beque restau­rants at that city’s air­port.

Concierge-staffed business lounges are sprout­ing up in the ter­mi­nals along with con­course-con­nected four- and five-star ho­tels that serve as vir­tual cor­po­rate head­quar­ters. Ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­persed ex­ec­u­tives fly in for sales meet­ings, client con­tacts, board meet­ings and high­level decision-mak­ing, of­ten with­out an overnight stay.

Mak­ing Con­nec­tions

Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port (HKIA) is a good case in point, host­ing the world’s largest ter­mi­nal com­mer­cial lounge. This 15,000-square-foot full-ser­vice business cen­ter sup­ports up to 300 users with wire­less hotspots, work­sta­tions, prin­ters and meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties along with large-screen TVs and ad­vanced video­con­fer­enc­ing sys­tems.

When business trav­el­ers aren’t work­ing, they can en­joy an all-day buf­fet and an à la carte menu along with such per­sonal ameni­ties as spa-type mas­sages, bar­ber ser­vices, and man­i­cures. If th­ese trav­el­ers re­quire an overnight stay, the 1,171-room Re­gal Ho­tel – win­ner of this year’s Best in Business Travel Award for Best Air­port Ho­tel – is con­nected to the pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nal to pro­vide an even fuller com­ple­ment of business and ser­vice ameni­ties.

At London City Air­port, re­search shows that 61 per­cent of pas­sen­gers are business trav­el­ers and that over half of them use

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