Hi! I’m back and I missed you guys!
I didn’t even intend to take a break from the blog but one thing led to another, and I did a lot of letting myself off the hook. I had written something for the Monday before Thanksgiving only to decide it was garbage and not publish it. I was asked if I scrap a lot of work, and I don’t really. Often, I can salvage it. It just might take a few weeks or even months. I let it sit over there in the drafts pile until I figure out how to fix it.
Also, I traveled back East for the holiday so I ran away from all responsibility. I felt guilty and good about it. We had my mom and stepfather, my dad, and my in-laws, as well as my siblings with their spouses and their kids. And two dogs. All in one house. It sounds like the opening scene to a National Lampoon film but it was surprisingly free of any conflict whatsoever, and a great holiday. I got to see the Baltimore Aquarium; we went out for Maryland crabs; and we even had a family gingerbread house competition.
Before I knew it, it was time to go home and I was ready to get back to my babies and the mountains. But Terminal G in Minneapolis made me want to miss my connecting flight.
We got off the plane from Reagan National and I saw the future of travel in front of me. Have you seen it?
Immediately, we were funneled through a “walk-through” market where I was tempted by cool tech and travel gadgets, healthy travel snacks, and maybe a gift idea or two. The space was airy and brightly lit with beautiful, low modern kiosks.
I continued on and passed a beautiful European coffee bar with stunning pastries on display and a bar with the stools right out in the walkway. We arrived at our gate, and the rows of chairs were replaced with rows of tables and seats with lamps, anchored iPads, and, gasp, OUTLETS.
Usually an airport layover consists of a mad dash for bathroom, coffee, outlet and if you’re lucky a seat, but the floor will do just fine in exchange for juicing up your device.
Delta Airlines contracted with OTG Management to overhaul the Delta MSP experience (They’ve also done Toronto and LaGuardia.) and “transform the airport experience for travelers.”
Terminal G has not only made the layover civilized; I now want a longer layover. And I better keep my wallet handy.
Here are a few lessons we can learn from this:
Toss out the status quo and change the way we think about <fill in the blank>. Just because it “is,” doesn’t mean it “has to be.” I’ve always wondered why airport food had to be so miserable and unhealthy. Air travel doesn’t have to suck and it certainly shouldn’t reduce us to sitting on filthy carpet sacrificing food and bathroom time so we can have some battery life on our next flight.
OTG is going to change the way everyone thinks about air travel – ok, maybe just the layovers, let’s not get too carried away. This is disruptive innovation at its best. They looked at something that has been the way it “is” for decades and asked how they can make it better. No more fast food and junk. The free-flowing spaces are occupied by the local flavor of Minneapolis and St. Paul with the best chefs, coffee, beer, and wine and combined with stunning design that blurs the lines between gate, terminal and bar/restaurant.
Create an experience. A well-designed customer experience feels wonderful. They thought about the needs of the traveler, and what has been lacking. They mapped out an entire vision with the end-goal that travelers will want to spend time in airports. Want to spend time in airports. If they can do it, any business model can.
I can sit at my gate, in a comfortable and well-designed atmosphere that feels nothing like an airport except for the gate numbers on the wall and the announcements overhead, and order oysters on the half shell with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a farm to table handcrafted burger with local cheese. It will be delivered to my seat while my devices charge, and I can check email and surf the internet on the iPad. Best of all, I’m right there and can hear when they announce the boarding of my flight.
My layover was too short.
They make it oh so easy to take our money. And I was very willing to give. Before I did any of the research for this post, I looked around me and thought, I bet sales skyrocket in this terminal. Not only are the offerings excellent, but it’s ridiculously easy to spend money no matter how short your layover. The gate is literally a bar, now. They have put the entire terminal at my tabletop in my gate. I can spend money without worrying about missing my flight. (Which I still wanted to miss.) Sales at MSP Terminal G increased by 44 percent.
Founder and principal of OTG Rick Blatstein’s vision is to create a customer desire for the OTG experience in airports all around the world.
Rick, medical facilities next, please.
Want to see more on how OTG is transforming air travel? Watch this video. If it isn’t showing up, you can see it here.
Brian D. Meeks says
That was a fantastic post. I adore stories of brilliant marketing where not only does the customer leave satisfied, but the business profits.
Lisa Gerber says
Right? Completely agree. I was blown away. Plus, it was all so simple once you think about it.
Bob Phillips says
On the other hand, getting to “Terminal G’s” is far from pleasant. Getting to the terminal via airline check in and TSA checks channels the experience of animals being led to the abattoir –except that you can see over the partitions and know what is coming…
Lisa Gerber says
Ha! Well, that’s the thing with disruptive innovation – it starts in one place and slowly expands. Maybe we’ll see the rest improve. some day.
Bob Phillips says
Another thought. At LAX, LA County has decreed that businesses there must pay a living wage, so the McDonalds’ workers make $15-something an hour. That’s about 2x what the “off-campus” employees are paid and about $5/hour higher than the $10.10 minimum wage being discussed in DC this week.
Pretty cool, a Bachelor-degreed burger flipper that gets to work only one job.
I’ve heard various estimates of the effect on food prices that such “living wage” rates would cause. I’ve heard $.20-.30 per burger, to as high as $2. I believe the latter is too high, and should go count heads, productivity and do the math.
I’m pretty sure that that has not been done by our parsimonious lawmakert.
…one possibility is that these places could demand a reduction in franchise fees, but the industry has already placed their negotiating limit on fees at 3%.