London Heathrow has ordered a review of its premium shopping using concierge experts Quintessentially.
The review, which will take place from October until December, aims to focus on the needs of the airport’s current passenger base and the future needs of tomorrow’s travellers.
Jonathan Coen, Heathrow’s Retail Director, admitted that many passengers feel retail in the airport takes away from the experience of using the facility for its principal purpose, as a means of getting on aircraft.
Quintessentially managing director Fiona Noble and Heathrow retail director Jonathan Coen
Responding to “shopping mall with runways” criticism, Coen told Business Traveller: “We are very aware that we need to balance the overarching reason for being at the airport and the retailing. We want retail to be on the way, not in the way.”
Coen said the purpose of the review is for LHR to introduce “new innovations and raise the service blend”, not just for UK departing passengers, but for connecting passengers and also as a reflection of Heathrow’s international and diverse customer mix.
The aim is to add “pre-awareness” for passengers using the airport, not just through the Heathrow Rewards programme, but also though social media channels and in “dialogue with the airlines”.
Coen said that three initiatives were Personal Shopping; Reserve and Collect, when passengers shop online, then pick-up their goods at the airport; and Shop and Collect, when purchases made after security – airside – are then collected once passengers have returned from their trip and cleared security.
Other initiatives might include providing “more curated and edited passenger experiences” such as whisky tastings.
The review by Quintessentially will survey Heathrow’s current retail offering, including shops, restaurants and services, as well as consulting with commercial partners, staff and passengers over the next three months.
Fiona Noble, managing director at Quintessentially, said: “Service is such an intangible concept, but so powerful when you get it right, inspiring loyalty, passion and advocacy.”
Following its review, Quintessentially will provide a full, independent analysis including benchmarking against other airport hubs along with recommendations on how Heathrow can improve its retail service.