Making of an Airport Hotel by RamGupta6


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									Making of
an Airport
Perhaps one of the most difficult part for
anyone involved with creating a product profile
for a “niche specific” product is to visualize the
ultimate product in its totality. Airport hotels are
very unique products demanding inputs from
business, leisure and investment extension
elements tailored in a manner that speed of
service delivery is enhanced without
compromising the quality. The problem is that
often by the time a profile for a techbased
product is cast, discussed and agreed, it is time
to review it again as technology has trashed that
entire one that was agreed.
Before one sits down to define a product
profile, three important factors have to be kept
in mind, “who will use the product” , “what are
the expectations of the user” and what is the
scope of applying the principles of “investment
extension” to generate additional revenue with
marginal addition capital infusion. Naturally
your planning must address and satisfy all these
factors, keeping always in mind “what our
competitors are offering” which adds a
challenging dimension to the task.

Basically, as the term suggests, an airport hotel
is used by travelers, those who use the airport
for departing and arriving, those who transit
through the city and require accommodation
from as short as 4 to 6 hours to over a day, and,
the airline crew both cabin and cockpit. It is
important to mention all these segments as all
have different and specific demand on the
product. There is yet another segment; some
airport hotels also act as a filter to the city,
filtering the traffic at the airport itself where the
guests may stay for as long as three to four days.
These are typically those hotels which have an
activity zone attached to it or in the close
proximity, like an international convention
center or an expo center.

Another important aspect
is the actual location of
the hotel in relation to the
airport. Is the hotel
located in the terminal building itself, is it
attached to the airport with a direct walk way or
it is in close proximity to the airport and can be
reached within minutes drive from the airport.
All these factors will act as a base to define the
product profile.
Airport hotels also derive their personality
from the nature of the airport they are on. Is it a
destination airport or is it a transit hub? Hotels
that are in or attached to the airport or within a
close proximity to it, are generally low rise
buildings with a horizontal lay out. While this
gives rise to long walk to the rooms, it avoids
the vertical transportation by elevators.

Hotel Spaces
An airport hotel should ideally have a spacious
lobby with proportionately larger seating area
than in a city hotel. However care must be taken
to ensure that this area generates adequate
revenue by providing snacks and beverage
service. This also acts as a hold area for sudden
arrival of hundreds of passengers on account of
cancelled or delayed flight and those waiting for
the declared check-in time to get their room
assigned. Many hotels operate on a 24 hour
check-in system but this can put additional
pressure on hotels wage bill as housekeeping
staff has to be available in odd shifts. It is
advisable for the hotel lobby to provide flight
arrival, departure status either on properly
positioned TV screens or on an on-line flight
status board linked to the airport system. Those
involved with the planning of the hotel must
give adequate consideration to requirements of a
left luggage or luggage hold area. As people
stay for a short period, they may like to carry
just the overnighter to the room, leaving the
heavy boxes with the bell desk. While this
aspect on one hand increases the storage space
and security requirements, on the other this
helps in reducing load on bell services and wear
and tear of carpets and walls.
The check-in experience should be a smooth
affair with as little formality as would be
required by local law and hotel policy. Many
hotels have self check-in automats which record
all required details of the guest, assign the room
and issues the room key. A guest must be made
aware that on departure, unless he checks-out
manually or via the automat, his stay bill will
continue to add room rent and charge it to his
credit card.

Rooms & Suites
Since an airport hotel caters to various
segments of users, an ideal hotel will therefore
have a very wide offer of accommodation
ranging from normal rooms and suites to day-
use rooms, family rooms with extra, normal or
bunk beds, group lounges with individual settee
cum beds, studio rooms, rooms with work cum
sleep possibility and the list ends where our
imagination ends. The quality of
accommodation, irrespective of its type assumes
paramount importance as the guest arrives after
a long flight, tired, different time zone hence
with an unadjusted bio-clock, expecting a very
smooth and hassle free in room experience with
high tech yet friendly operations of various
facilities. The rooms have to be totally noise
pollution free with capability of attaining total
darkness for sound sleep even during the day.

While the rooms of an airport hotel are no
different than the normal city hotel, it is high in
technology in security and billing aspect. For
example the door lock may be biometric, video
enabled door bell, electronic safe with biometric
lock, TV with pay channel, mini bar with direct
billing to the guest folio, paid high speed
internet, to list a few. Hotels with express 4-
hour laundry and dry cleaning service report
higher revenues than the normal 24 hour
service. While most hotels provide an alarm
clock in the room, care must be taken that these
clocks are electronic and not battery operated to
ensure correct time. A hotel can be held liable
for a guest missing his flight if the clock in the
                      room displays wrong time.

                      Restaurants, Bars
A well planned airport hotel must have a large
buffet restaurant serving international cuisine.
The restaurant timings would ideally depend on
the operating hours of the airport. In addition to
this there should be at least one or two speciality
cuisine fine dining restaurants. The bar should
ideally be a lounge bar where people in small
groups could enjoy a drink. A well planned
night club or discotheque could complete the
dining and entertainment offer of the hotel.

It is observed that hotels with self dispensing
automates on each floor stocked with quick cold
bites, bottled drinks and other eatables record
good revenues during odd service hours.
Automates also take some load off the otherwise
busy room service.

Meetings and Conference
Airport hotels in transit hubs could do very
well with a battery of conference and meeting
rooms backed up with a well equipped business
centre. Travelling executives could utilize their
transit time in conducting business meetings.
Cities like Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and
Singapore, to name a few are examples of best
transit hubs.

Recreational Facilities
In terms of leisure or recreation facilities, there
is a mixed view from the
profitability angle.
However hotels with a
gym, sauna, Turkish and
massage facilities do
quite well in transit locations where people want
to utilize the short time available to them and
get rejuvenated for the next lag of the trip.

An airport hotel must plan for a small kiosk
open round the clock with items generally
required by a traveler, genera across the counter
medicines and souvenirs.
At the end of the day, Airport hotels enjoy
good volume utilization for most periods in a
year. Investment in an airport hotel also offers
investment extension possibilities in related
areas like on board catering services, lounge
management and onsite food and beverage
Ram Gupta is a professional consultant with
specialization in hospitality. He has over four
decades of experience in Asia, Far East, Middle
East and Europe. He has been associated with
over two dozen luxury hotel projects and a
number of state of art wellness centers and spas.
His web site can be viewed at and can be contacted

      JULY, 2012 © BCG GLOBAL

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