These are the airport tricks to make you spend more money

From the design of the shops to the configuration of the corridors and information screens: everything is designed for the passenger to consume more.

Airport users are a captive audience: they have free time, they are bored or looking for some activity to kill the hours, and they have nowhere to go until it is their turn to fly. The managers of the air terminals and the shops know this very well. That is why they deploy various tricks to encourage the desire to buy, albeit unconsciously.

Photo: Xianjuan Hu
Photo: Xianjuan Hu

In fact, airports have become consolidated as shopping and leisure centres, to the extent that some terminals authorise the passage of people who do not fly just to stroll, buy and enjoy.

A report by aviation consultant Intervistas, some five years old, is still more current than ever, and sheds light on why being at an airport unleashes consumer desires.

Why is duty-free there?

Many passengers often complain that when they leave security checkpoints, they have to go through the store with duty-free items. If you are in a hurry to take the flight, you understand the nuisance.

But the reason is not only to trap the passenger in an area full of tempting items such as chocolates, alcoholic beverages and perfumes, but also to take advantage of the first few minutes of relaxation after going through security and document control.

The immediate area to these filters is known as “the recomposition area,” says that report, quoted by The Telegraph, where the brain relaxes after the stress of going through the metal detector and officials check the luggage.

Walking to the left

The main catwalk that is used for duty-free travel meanders so that the traveller can cover as much of its surface as possible. Locals that have this type of configuration achieve 60% more sales than linear ones, according to this report.

And although hardly anyone has noticed, the design of many structures curves to the left. But why?

Because people who walk tend to look more to the right, the structure of duty-free shops tend to turn gently to the left.

Most people are right-handed, and when carrying their carry-on luggage with their right hand, they walk in a counterclockwise direction to improve their walking balance.

Unconsciously, this way you look more to the right than to the left.

That is why the design of these shops is curved in that direction, and in the right visual field is where more articles are presented and in a more showy way.
Time is money

The longer the passenger passes through the shopping area, the more he or she can spend. But a person waiting 20 minutes to check in, another 20 minutes in security filters, and a fraction more in passport control is valuable time that, in the eyes of businesses, is wasted.

Therefore, in addition to enhancing passenger comfort, there are so many technological efforts to improve these processes, such as check-in kiosks, luggage self-depot, biometric security checks and documentation, and so on.

Biometric systems allow passengers to spend more time in the commercial area.

As we said, relaxation accompanies the desire to buy. Flying is a source of stress: the rush, the nerves of many travellers to board an airplane, the passing through security filters, the fear that there is something wrong with the passport, and so on.

In addition to the paraphernalia of services to relax the mind and body (from spa to showers, and from massage chairs to corners to practice yoga), the design of the airports seeks to reduce the passenger’s level of anxiety.

A relaxed person is more likely to go shopping and shopping than one who is stressed.

That’s why there’s so much wood, plants and natural light in its architecture. For these reasons, large airports do not advertise flights by public address, and waiting areas have more and more comfortable armchairs.

Related to this idea of lowering tension airports indicate where the terminals are in units of time and not distance.

It is not only to do a favor to U.S. travelers, but “because expressing in minutes is clearer than doing it in meters. In addition, passengers know how much time they have to visit shops,” says Julian Lukaszewicz, one of the heads of the design firm Designit, quoted by The Telegraph.

Lots of light (natural, please)

The design of airports with so many open spaces and large panels for natural light to enter is used by businesses because they know that consumers are more likely to enter a place illuminated by the sun rather than by lamps.

For this reason, the premises with the highest rent are those that are located close to the most luminous areas.

The entrance to the shops is very large, so that several people with luggage carts can enter without colliding. In addition its disposition is diagonal with respect to the walker, so that they have a greater angle of vision when they pass next to him, needs the report of Intervistas.

The local touch

An airport is what in architecture is known as a ‘non-place’, a space that repeats design patterns and can be located in Kuala Lumpur, Bogotá, Cape Town or Tel Aviv.

Shops compete not only against city stores but also with online sales. For this reason, in their decoration they seek to break the monotony and they bet on giving a localist touch, with traditional details, autochthonous music, images of the city or the country. Everything is to catch the desire to sell.

Author: Juan Pedro Chuet-Missé. Cerodosbe