Tech Retail Proves Popular at Orlando Int'l

Author: 
Nicole Nelson
Published in: 
October
2011

 




factsfigures

Project: Technology-Oriented Retail

Location: Orlando Int'l Airport

Airport Operator: Greater Orlando Aviation Authority

Concept: Tech on the Go

Master Developer: Hudson Group

Contract Awarded: 2008

Opening: Aug. 2009

Technology-oriented retail is performing "very well" at Orlando International Airport (MCO) - particularly Tech on the Go, an airside store that opened in Terminal A about two years ago, reports MCO's manager of concessions, Linda Baratta.

"We continue to try to keep up with trends and demands because our passenger mix changes with more business travelers and their personal technical needs," Baratta explains. "We asked for the submission of a concept, and this concept is one we felt would meet those needs."

Family-Friendly

Tech on the Go is one component of a four-section, 5,000-square-foot combination store developed by Hudson Group. The space also includes Kids Works, Life is Good and Sunglass Hut.

Skullcandy brand headphones and earbuds are especially hot sellers at Tech on the Go, says Michael S. Levy, senior vice president of merchandising for Hudson Group. The colorful audio accessories that plug into passengers' own portable devices as well as aircraft sound systems have been a hit with preschoolers and teenagers alike. Girls literally strip the Ink'd Pink version off the shelves, Levy notes.

Tech-savvy parents are apparently choosing Skullcandy over traditional candy to help keep their children happy. "Instead of buying the kids an edible indulgence, parents will buy Tommy or Susie an electronic indulgence," explains Levy, adding that many MCO travelers are in a laid-back, leisurely mood. "Families traveling through Orlando are there for fun, theme parks and holidays, and money seems to flow more freely. The kids have had a ball, and parents want them content for the flight home."

Beyond the Disney Set

Tech on the Go also sells products from Sony, Phillips, Panasonic, Plantronics, iGo, Casio, Koss, BlueTooth, ES Games and others in order to appeal to a variety of demographic groups flying through MCO.

"While women may tend more to look for computer bags, accessories and gifts for the kids, men tend to go searching for headphones, headsets and computer games," Levy relates. "All of our customers, men and women, want the newest, hottest technology. Even if they have three sets of headphones at home, they always want the new set with the bells and whistles."

Tech on the Go, agrees Baratta, is attractive to multiple categories of travelers.

"Our goal at Orlando International Airport is to always provide a high level of customer service and to meet the demands of a diverse customer base," she notes. "We have a number of young travelers, a number of leisure travelers and an increasing number of business travelers with our having one of the largest convention centers in the country."

Training is Crucial

Baratta and Levy agree that the success of electronic retail concepts can be closely linked to the knowledge base of the staff. Many brands consequently provide in-store training sessions, with visiting product representatives delivering specific instruction about their merchandise. 

"The manufacturers have a stake in making sure that our associates are up to date on their product," explains Levy. "It is a very dynamic atmosphere at Tech on the Go - more so than the more staid stores. You don't need as much training in selling a polo shirt, but you certainly do need training on selling a GPS device or a video camera. Having that well-trained and experienced person at your disposal makes a big difference, and is certainly a more customer-friendly experience than buying that same piece of equipment from a vending machine."

Competing with vending machines isn't a new issue for airport retailers - even those selling high-tech merchandise with three-digit prices. The same year Hudson Group began pitching its Tech on the Go concept to airports (2008), the first Best Buy Express, an unstaffed "automated retail store" by Zoom Systems, began selling electronics at Dallas/Fort Worth International. Other airports soon added Best Buy Express stations, and systems with other product themes began appearing in additional airports.

MCO was the first airport to open a Tech on the Go store. Six other locations have since debuted, at airports in Miami, Edmonton and Halifax. According to Levy, new Tech on the Go stores are on the drawing boards in Edmonton and San Diego.

"The stores are all performing at or ahead of expectations, reflecting customers' fascination with the electronics category, on and off airport," he reports.

Scaled down versions of the inline store can be found at Tech on the Go Express electronics sections in the 130 largest Hudson News stores. "Just about every time we bid a package, we try to include a Tech on the Go. We find more and more that airports are looking for a top-notch electronics store." 

 

 

Subcategory: 
Concessions/Retail

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