New Partnership Will “Fully Reimagine” Airport Starbucks

Airport food locations aren’t actually run by the restaurant names you know. Restaurants will license the concept, and collaborate on menus, with concessions companies like HMS Host, Delaware North, and OTG.

HMS Host had an exclusive deal to offer Starbucks in U.S. airports since 1991. We learned last week that this exclusive deal is over, though existing Starbucks locations should remain in airports through the duration of the HMS Host-airport contract at least.

Starbucks already has a new (non-exclusive) deal with OTG, which is promising “a fully re-imagined Starbucks customer experience, ensuring guests access to their preferred cup anywhere in the airport.”

The plan is to open “locations that can move throughout terminals” to deliver coffee to customers, and bring mobile ordering and payment to airport locations.

OTG is known for iPad ordering. These iPads even infect the upscale Classified restaurant at Newark. OTG learned that passengers park themselves by their gate and are afraid to venture beyond their sight line.

As a result they spend less on concessions. However by letting customers order food locally, and bringing their order to them, average sales volumes go up. Of course wait times can vary, especially with Starbucks first time in the morning, and seeing a line lets you (imprefectly) judge whether you’ll have coffee in time for your flight. And unfortunately OTG doesn’t understand that iPads aren’t appropriate for every venue and circumstance, indeed they can slow down the checkout process in the banjo at DCA at the self service shops.

In other words 2010 called Starbucks, they want their iPad back.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This (not run by the franchise themselves) explains why most airport restaurants suck so badly. Even McDonalds where you don’t expect much underperforms at most airports due to the poor employees, equipment, etc. at the airport. Once in a while I’m surprised (on the good side) by an airport restaurant but usually the service and food is pretty poor.

    And I see no point in Starbucks although they seem to be taking over the world.

  2. Finally someone calling out OTG and their disgusting iPads! Ordering through communal electronic devices is unsanitary and slow. Newark Terminal C is overpriced AND filthy, thats why Eater NY recommends you go to Wendys.

  3. What’s interesting about this is Starbucks a few years ago eliminated a lot or all franchisees. I remember my hometown went 5 years without a Starbucks until one returned. I wonder if HMS Host, which interestingly used to be part of Marriott, will also lose its exclusive to operate Starbucks at highway and tollroad rest areas.

  4. “locations that can move throughout terminals”

    Meaning a coffee cart?

    Man, that’s groundbreaking.

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