As 2019 gets underway, travel organizations are busy at work aligning their products and offerings to meet the dominant and emerging travel trends.
Some of the most significant of those trends include the continued demand among travelers for an abundance of wellness-related offerings wherever they go, as well as the growing penchant for localization of nearly every part of the travel experience.
Bleisure travel also continues its upward momentum, as road warriors increasingly seek to mix business and leisure on trips and bring family members along for the ride.
The executives at Airport Lounge Development have all of these trends in mind, (and a few more), as they roll out the 2019 offerings for 18 lounges around the world and plan the details for nine new lounges currently in the works.
For those not familiar, Airport Lounge Development (ALD) is the company behind The Club lounges, which are shared, common-use lounges that are open to anyone who wants to escape the noise of public waiting areas. The lounges can be accessed by purchasing a day pass.
The largest operator in the United States of such lounges, ALD currently has facilities in a long list of airports including Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Orlando, to name a few.
ALD’s wellness focus also includes newly expanded food and beverage products to incorporate such healthy options as farmer’s market salads and bowls of soup and a reduction of carb-heavy or sugar-heavy menu items.
There’s also a new emphasis on offering menu options that are gluten-free, vegetarian and in some case vegan, Knipp explained.
“There is a growing demand for options that are more protein-rich and less carb centered,” said Kipp “So for breakfast, our lounges are offering scrambled eggs accompanied by some form of protein. We are trying to offer more options than just cereal, bread and bagels.”
(Though carb-aholics need not fear. The cereal, bread, and bagels will still be available.) Sugar hasn’t been eliminated altogether either. The lounges will feature jars of candies for those moments when you still need a sweet fix.
And in yet another nod to travel trends, The Club lounges are also working to address the Instagram craze among jet- setters. Knipp says the influence of social media on travelers’ opinions and decisions cannot be ignored.
“Particularly bleisure travelers, their decisions are very much influenced by what they see on social media. There is a level of trust among travelers,” she explained. “So we are seeing more travel providers – whether its airports, hotels, or tour operators – really focus on providing an Instagram-worthy experience.”
The Club lounges’ effort on this front includes working to create an Instagram-worthy experience, including offering a look and feel that’s significantly different or more unique than the general airport terminal, explained Knipp.
“We want people to be relaxed, with their feet up, and eating different foods and beverages because we realize that you can get a lot more travelers interested when they see people having these experiences in our lounges,” she said.
The Club lounges are also working to address the growing bleisure trend as well, which Knipp referred to as the “rise of the micro or mini-trips.”
“These are short and experience-dense trips during which work and vacation are combined together,” she said. “These types of trips have led to an increase in family members coming along for the experience. And as a result, the airport becomes an integral part of the journey.”
The growing importance associated with time spent at the airport has inspired ALD to develop lounges in a way that will appeal to families, with some locations even including children’s rooms with age-appropriate games.
That effort also involves ensuring that each lounge’s design is unique, rather than cookie cutter and that each space captures the essence of the city and the region in which it is located. (Which taps into yet another trend – the demand for local experiences and flavors nearly everywhere.)
“We don’t want all of our lounges to look alike,” Knipp said. “We place a real emphasis on capturing the spirit of that city and region, whether it is through photography, food or music.”
ALD has partnered with award-winning local chefs to develop food offerings at some of its lounges. In other locations, such as New Orleans, a city that’s synonymous with music, local musicians are brought in during Mardi Gras season.
A specialty cocktail program is also being rolled out in The Club lounges, which will include crafted cocktails unique to each city.
And on a charitable note, ALD has also begun a program it calls Pours for Purpose, the proceeds from which go to a variety of good causes ranging from education women about the symptoms of ovarian cancer to meals for children and research related to bee communities.
One last important effort, none of the lounges use plastic straws (a nod to the grave importance of doing away with single-use plastics that are harmful to wildlife, the ocean and the planet as a whole.) Even stirrers used by the lounges are environmentally-friendly, made with natural bamboo.
“We are really trying to make the experience more environmentally and socially conscious,” said Knipp.
By: Mia Taylor