Airport concessions is a growing industry that gives local retailers and restaurants an opportunity to showcase their brands to an array of passengers from across the country and around the world. Over the past decade, WDA’s Retail Practice has developed an expertise bringing projects to life in our local airports, San Francisco International (SFO) and Oakland International, and beyond, in cities such as Denver and Houston. Before he boarded his flight for the 2019 Airport Revenue News Airport Experience Conference (ARN AX), WDA Associate Principal Jonathan Tsurui shared a few of his top tips for businesses contemplating an airport location.

  1. Aim for High-Flying Design

“For airport project reviewers such as SFO’s Design Review Committee, a compelling proposal that includes cutting-edge design and markers of construction quality often makes a difference in which vendor is selected to lease a space,” Tsurui says. Recent trends show sleek, interesting spaces that take design risks are catching airports’ eyes. Whether you represent a new or an established brand, refining a storefront for an airport lease can help push your existing design vision to the next level.

  1. Eliminate Barriers Between Vendor and Concourse

An experienced designer can help you think of creative ways to connect store and concourse to draw people to your space. For instance, our design for MUMFresh in SFO’s International Terminal inexpensively opened up the lease line barrier of a small space with bench seating that can extend into the terminal. And as a more sweeping solution to invite travelers in, we worked with our client Marshall Retail Group (MRG) to remove a curtain wall and allow natural light into the expansive 5,200 square foot District Market in SFO’s Terminal 3.

  1. Local Brands Showcase a Place

Whether you are visiting a new city or returning home, airport terminal stores and restaurants can help give you a sense of a place. Over the last few years more airports have adopted a local “place-making” focus for their concessions. Tsurui has seen this trend evolve first hand with more local boutique brands featured in SFO—from Bay Area restaurants to wares featured in District Market. And local pride remains strong in recent Oakland International projects, where concessionaire High Flying Foods is working with WDA and restauranteur partners including A16 Pizzeria, Brown Sugar Kitchen, Calavera, and Southie to offer travelers a taste of the East Bay food scene.

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