Showing posts with label Ethos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ethos. Show all posts

27 March, 2011

Redefining Airport Retail – Terminal Three, Delhi Airport



It was the first time ever (and hopefully the last time) that I ever missed a flight. Was stunned by the fact that something like that could actually happen! It wasn’t because I was wandering across the sprawling retail areas of the airport but because of a silly gaffe. Anyway, the pupose of my visit was fulfilled with a three hour walkthrough across the various areas of the airport. Although it’s been already written and told a few times so far, here’s a firsthand account of what’s for an avid shopper at T3. Firstly, if you were to really explore this place, block 60-90 minutes ahead of the scheduled boarding time (not the departure time). The design of the airport terminal is such that one enters the main hub after security check and then there are different spokes (or arms) which lead the passengers to the Boarding Gates. The Hub is where most of the Retail and F&B action is. So, be prepared to walk a long way before you finally get seated into the aircraft. Undoubtedly one of the most modern airports in the world, T3 as it is famously known is constructed and managed by the GMR Group which also manages the Hyderabad Airport in India and Ataturk Airport in Turkey.

As with most international airports, the Check-In and Arrival areas are common for both Domestic and International passengers. While there are limited Retail and F&B opportunities in these areas (mostly for convenience), I guess it is more by design since the passengers are expected to spend time and money in the main commercial areas after security check.  The walkway for passengers is through the retail stores – an interesting idea first explored at the Bangalore International Airport, which is predominantly how airport retail layouts are planned and executed world over. The idea is to make the passengers walk through the stores – the store aisles are identical to the walkways and hence give immense opportunity to convert passersby into potential customers. In the Domestic Departures, one is welcomed with a fascinating WH Smith, the UK based books and stationery retailer through a joint venture in India. Adjacent to it is another British Giant – Marks & Spencer that showcases daily wear fashion for men and women including accessories. The undergarments’ section at the entrance was a surprise – am sure store planners would have visualized some other way than reality. Then there are other major retail brands such as Fab-India and Swarovski showcasing Indian and International contemporary fashion, Croma Zip, the electronics mini-format from Tata Retail, Perfumes and Cosmetics from home-grown Parcos, Toys and early learning products from ELC, Sweets and Confectionery from Chokola and local delicacies from Haldirams. The F&B range is rather remarkable – given that passengers prefer to spend more time at bars and restaurants. T3 is the second home for Coffee Day Square that serves the most premium single-origin coffee sourced from all over the world apart from the regular fare that’s available across its other 1,070 cafes; Kingfisher Good Times Bar as the name suggests welcomes tired passengers to offer one for the runway; the massive foodcourt in the first floor offers over a dozen Indian and International offering– over 300 exciting items to choose from. On the way to the gates, there is also Dilli StrEAT – a superb idea that showcases local food delicacies. And then there are the Lounges which overflow (read pax waiting outside for some of them seated to move out) during the peak hours.

Given that our domestic passengers are not habituated to shop at airports, it was surprising to see such a spread-out retail offering. For example, the distance from the Business Lounges / Shopping & Dining areas to the Boarding Gates could be between 200 metres to 1,000 metres which means one may have to walk between 10-20 minutes to reach the aircraft.

The International Departures (after Emigration and Security check) is quite similar, except that the entrance is welcomed by one of the most fabulous Duty Free selections across categories such as Liquor and tobacco, Scotch whisky, Premium Wines, Perfumes and Cosmetics etc. Ethos, India’s largest retailer of watches and timewear operates a premium watch boutique. They have indeed walked a long way in Airport Retail after debuting in Bangalore Airport in 2008 and thereafter at Mumbai Airport. Then there are other premium and luxury brands such as Versace, Hugo Boss, Samsonite Black, Swarovski, Mango, Kimaya, etc. An interesting idea is the Indian souvenir and gifts shop - it also includes a SPA / Therapy centre and is welcomed with exciting artifacts and a photo of the Mahatma with a Charka – quite didn’t understand the significance except for a small note on “Service”. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has a cafĂ© in the ground level but for a more detailed fare, one has to walk up to the first floor which has a massive food court and a special area for children to play – I guess the planners would have thought children would be playing while the adults are having a bite at the foodcourt which is again located between 200 – 1,000 meters from the Boarding Gates.

The kilometer long piers (at Domestic & International Departures) that connect the main building to the Boarding Gates do have some F&B opportunities, but the menu is selective and doesn’t attract passengers quite a bit, unless there is a compulsive need to stop-by. Pepsi is the exclusive partner for this airport and hence one can find a vending machine selling various packed beverages every 20 meters. Vodafone is the prominent telecom partner and even offers free browsing!  There are a number of ATMs, just look for them and you have the convenience of picking up cash on the go. 

Overall, it’s a joy to be at this Airport Terminal for which we have waited for many years - this airport was completed in 37 months with a capacity to manage 34 million passengers a year in comparison to Singapore Changi T3 (76 months, 22 million pax capacity), London Heathrow T5 (60 months, 25 million pax capacity) and Beijing T3 (60 months, 45 million pax capacity) – easy in and easy out - 168 check-in counters; 49 emigration counters, 46 immigration counters; in-line baggage handling system with a capacity to handle 12,800 bags per hours; 97 automatic travelators and 78 Boarding Bridges; an overall area of 5.4 million sqft including 215,000 sft of Retail space! Just that it takes too much time than anticipated, so double your proposed time if you want to pass through the Retail, F&B areas. As for shopping, if you still do, then Happy Shopping.

16 August, 2010

New Airline guidelines – a boon to Retailers

Even as the bus was moving slowly on the tarmac towards the aircraft, it all seemed a dream for me. I would actually be taking the flight to head back home after a long four days that included a road trip from Delhi to Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Amritsar and back to Delhi - a distance of over 900 kms covered in less than 60 hours. The car journey was indeed tiresome and the trip was hectic but the wish-list was complete - A visit to the Golden Temple, the Wagah Border, Wal-Mart stores in Punjab and a couple of other meetings. All those memories were coming back to my mind as the bus slowly halted. There were just five of us in the long bus operated by India’s most efficient airline, Jet Airways as most of them were already seated and their seat-belts fastened. Usually the late comers are welcomed with a stiff and dirty look by some passengers as though the flight was held up only because of them (which was not in our case). The crew, ever smiling and happy to help, guided us to our seats and the doors were being closed, the flight getting ready for take-off. As the plane reached the runway and started moving, I was amused that this could actually happen to me – reaching the airport 14 minutes before the scheduled departure time and still being flown. Yes, I reached at 18.31 hrs. at the Terminal 1D at Delhi Airport for a flight that was scheduled to depart at 18.45 hrs. Even the lady at the check-in was amused of my (in)sanity and reassured – that she wouldn’t be responsible if I couldn’t board the craft. I have held faith in miracles and one such happened that day.
Since I had already done a web-check the previous day, all I needed to do was carry a print out to show the Security staff and run to the boarding gates. The usually unfriendly and rude staff of CISF at Delhi Airport was, for a change nice and polite and let me past the security gates, while also advising that I need to really rush as the flight’s about to take off. Even as I approached the waiting area, my name along with a few others were being screamed on the Public Address systems and I had to run across the 2,000 sqm terminal building to reach the boarding gates. Just that I was feeling a bit guilty that I wasn’t taking anything back for my family or friends from the sprawling Retail areas. What was reassuring was that there was an all-purpose retail outlet at the Arrival areas at Bangalore International Airport, managed by India’s leading Leisure Retailer Odyssey that stocks everything from toys to chocolates, books to music. So I didn’t have to worry much since I could pick it up after reaching Bangalore.



While my getting into the flight was indeed some kind of magic, it was an eye-opener and warning, given the new guidelines laid down by many of the airlines in conjunction with the airports – Check-In counters for Domestic Flights would close 45 minutes prior to scheduled departure (previously 30 minutes) and 75 minutes prior for International flights and this would be applicable at the top six airports by passenger volumes in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad. This means one wouldn’t be able to check-in at the airport after the counters close, but could still board the flight if check-in has already been done though telephone or on the Web well in advance. Over a period of time, this trend would result in passengers arriving early to the airport, like how they do at other points of transit such as Railway stations and Bus stands. Earlier, the airports were smaller and cramped, but all this changed with the Government allowing private participation in constructing new infrastructure at airports. Bangalore International Airport was the first one to be signed on paper although Hyderabad International Airport was the first to commence its Greenfield Airport in 2008. GVK managed Mumbai International Airport had its new terminal building inaugurated a few months ago and GMR operated Delhi International Airport has recently commenced India’s pride, Terminal 3, or T3 as it is fondly called. Other airports at Chennai, Kolkata, Mangalore, Ahmadabad and many others managed by Airports Authority of India are being modernised at a total cost of over USD 4 Billion.


While arriving at the airport was not seen as a major attraction a few years ago, today passengers seem to love it. For Example, Cafe Coffee Day, the first national Retail Brand to enter airports many years ago had its share of patrons arriving at the erstwhile HAL Airport in Bangalore only to sip a cup of hot coffee before they left the city which they do even today at the new airport. Currently, CCD operates over 30 outlets across leading airports in India and is planning to enter many more in the years to come. The Bangalore International Airport was the first one in the country to have a properly planned and well-managed Retail footprint, led by India’s largest retailer in the lifestyle business, viz. Shoppers Stop which also incidentally operates at Hyderabad Airport. T3 at Delhi has over 20,000 sqm of Retail areas and hosts leading domestic, regional and international brands alike across domestic & International Departure and Arrival areas. It is quite common to see passengers packing sandwiches or burgers from CCD outlets along with a cold coffee or a frappe or Pizzas & Pepsi from Pizza Hut outlets at various airport terminals, thanks to the advent of low-cost airlines (which command a 35% market share in the Indian skies) that do not serve complimentary meals on board.


While arriving early to shop at Duty Free areas in the International Departures is common worldwide, the trend was basic and functional many years ago which was again altered at the Bangalore International Airport which hosts one of the best collections of Scotch, Tobacco, perfumes & cosmetics, Electronics etc. This is the airport where leading city-side retailers such as Odyssey Books and Leisure, Ethos Swiss Watch studio and fashion designer Deepika Govind started their airport retail journey. Today, Odyssey aand Ethos have mastered the trade and operate at many other airports while planning for more stores in times to come.

There are indeed many advantages for passengers to shop at airports. To begin with, it’s a lot of time saved for business passengers and busy executives, compared to that at the over-crowded malls in the city where entering and exiting could take more than 20 minutes during the weekends. Since these store understand the pulse of their customers, they stock the right kind of products so the decision making is quicker. Most importantly, these outlets offer a value-addition to their customers by bundling various promotions – afterall, the passenger doesn’t and cannot come every day to the airport! F&B operators focus on speed of delivery and high quality products and even offer tamper-proof packing so that there is no spill over even if it were to be consumed 20,000 ft above sea level. They also offer a wide assortment which caters to the millions of travellers who could never get bored of the offering.

So, if you are travelling through an airport next time, reach early. You might be in for a surprise looking at what’s available at the airport. Needless to say, the writer is not responsible if you exceed the limits on your credit card. Happy Shopping & Dining!

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