Type to search


Quick and easy


Airport World reports on the opening of the world’s first digital duty free vending machine, the introduction of automated pizza kitchens at airports and the growth of food pick-up and delivery services.

The duty free industry recently celebrated a new first at Geneva Airport – the launch of the world’s first digital duty free vending machine.

Lagardère Travel Retail Switzerland has partnered with Inflyter to introduce the new, innovative automated retail solution, which offers a fully digital airport duty free shopping experience for arriving passengers.

And the travel retail giant is confident that the new custom-designed, digital outlet will generate incremental revenue and transform a high traffic airport zone into a self-service commercial space.

Its introduction effectively means that passengers flying into Geneva Airport can order, pay and collect duty free items in under 60 seconds, offering them a fast and convenient way to shop when the Aelia Duty Free store might be closed.

It also potentially provides an alternative shopping method for travellers who prefer a fully digital and contactless purchase experience.

The automated retail solution allows travellers to buy directly from an interactive touch-screen menu of the bestselling duty free products, initially starting with tobacco.

This digital unit can also cater for the sales of other duty free goods like fragrances, skincare, cosmetics and other duty paid goods (while the selling of alcohol is prohibited in Switzerland).

Travel and age verification checks are made using an integrated scanner for boarding passports and identity cards, and once payment is made, the relevant compartment doors automatically open and the customer can retrieve their items, and the associated customs documentation and receipts are issued.

The vending unit has been positioned in the arrivals lounge outside the Aelia Duty Free store in Geneva Airport to complement the opening hours of the shop and maximise the opportunity of final impulse purchases at this final shopping touchpoint in the passenger journey.

In addition to the large touchscreen on the front of the automated retail unit, there are two large sides screens providing the ability to showcase the bestselling products and digital media opportunities for brands to further extend their visibility, reach and deliver fully integrated, marketing campaigns across all available channels in the airport and in-store.

“This new digital installation sees us launch our first fully automated, self-service sales channel which will optimise our operational costs while generating incremental revenue from what would be a non-viable commercial space at the airport,” enthused Lagardère Travel Retail Switzerland’s CEO, Pascal Le Droff.

“With international passenger numbers starting to pick up, we want to be at the forefront of digital transformation and actively explore how we can offer innovation that better services our existing duty free shoppers and reach new ones.”

Vending machine pizzas

Piping hot pizzas are now available from vending machines at airports courtesy of a three-element non-microwave speed oven inside the innovative new kiosks.

Fully certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL and EPA-approved) in the US for meeting all regulatory requirements, Basil Street’s automated pizza kitchen kiosks (APKs) have been in use at university and business campuses across the US for a while.

They were joined by San Antonio International Airport (SAT) in December 2021, as a result of a new partnership between Basil Street and Prepango, a specialist in securing contracts for automated retail and F&B solutions in airports.

And, if all goes to plan, the Texas gateway could be joined by Chicago O’Hare, Cincinnati/North Kentucky and Indianapolis international airports in the new year if current discussions prove successful.

Indeed, through Prepango, Basil Street is potentially looking to install over 200 APKs across the nation’s airports over the next 12-18 months.

Basil Street CEO, Deglin Kenealy, believes the concept will prove popular at airports as they will help address demand for hot food, particularly for passengers waiting to board flights, between connections or on late night layovers when more traditional food offerings may be closed, limited or inconvenient due to long queues.

Food delivery apps

The desire to make it easier for travellers to access their F&B offerings, enhance customer satisfaction levels and boost concession sales – particularly since COVID sent passenger numbers tumbling – are just some of the reasons why the world’s gateways have embraced the launch of food service delivery apps over the past 18 months.

As San Diego Regional Airport Authority’s president and CEO, Kimberly Becker, told us earlier this year, one of the most successful F&B apps has been AtYourGate, which was developed in its Airport Innovation Lab and is now used at close to 20 US airports.

They include all three New York gateways (EWR, JFK and LGA), Boston Logan (BOS), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX) and both Cleveland Hopkins (CLE) and Baltimore/Washington (BWI).

The service at LAX is an expansion of the airport’s popular LAXOrderNow.com mobile ordering platform, which enables contactless ordering, payment and pick-up from restaurants throughout the LAX terminals.

Speaking at the launch of the AtYourGate service at LAX, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) CEO, Justin Erbacci, said: “Our guests have told us they want greater access to airport information and services through their mobile devices so they can have more control of their travel journey.

“Offering food and beverage delivery to the gate areas is yet another game-changing feature that sets the new LAX experience apart for its convenience and range of options.”

In LAX’s case, AtYourGate delivery is managed by LAX in partnership with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) and mobile ordering provider Servy. 

“This is about always putting the customer first and creating a seamless commercial experience,” said Mike Salzman, URW’s executive vice president and group director of airports. “Delivery is a really exciting step toward giving guests greater convenience and freedom as they travel.”

A similar AtYourGate system is in operation at CLE and BWI through retail/F&B concessionaire Fraport USA’s GateWaiter Mobile Meal Delivery Service. As a result, hungry passengers can now use their smart phones or digital devices to order their favourite food for pick-up or delivery.

“Our fully integrated mobile platform offers travellers an easy way to satisfy their cravings before they take off and during their visit at the airport,” says Tina LaForte, vice president of Fraport Cleveland.

“GateWaiter not only saves time and effort, with this self-service option, we’re delivering for customers who want a convenient solution for meal-times and excellent food options when they travel.”

Commenting on the launch of food delivery services at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, offered via BWIGaitWaiter.com, BWI’s executive director, Ricky Smith, said: “We are focused on delivering high customer satisfaction and new amenities that will benefit our passengers.

“This innovation offers a simple, touchless way to deliver excellent food options right to travellers throughout the airport.”

Like at CLE, the BWI’s GaitWaiter platform is powered by Servy’s Grab Airport Marketplace technology, with delivery by AtYourGate.

Servy’s chief experience officer, Jeff Livney, said: “The new service provides real proof of BWI’s commitment to improving the guest experience for travellers. This new service will offer a convenient, contactless self-service option, reducing touchpoints for passengers and enabling them to easily order and purchase meals while maintaining social distancing.”

Servy has also played its part in the development of the mobile food ordering service introduced by Connecticut Airport Authority at Bradley International Airport (BDL).

The new service, BDL Market powered by Servy’s Grab Airport Marketplace technology, allows passengers to quickly and conveniently pre-order and pick up their meal from a growing list of airport restaurants.

“We are very excited to join a growing list of airports in introducing contactless food pick-up at Bradley International Airport,” noted Connecticut Airport Authority executive director, Kevin Dillon.

Doing things a little differently is the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which has opted for a pick-up service from Uber Eats, offering dishes from a variety of HMSHost-operated restaurants across Terminals 1 and 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

As a result, anyone at the airport can download the Uber Eats app for iOS or Android, order a meal ahead of time, and pick it up at the restaurant when it is ready.

According to GTAA, the “innovative partnership” offers convenience and contactless ordering for consumers, while also providing additional revenue for on-site restaurants.

HMSHost’s vice president of digital, Neil Thompson, enthused: “Bringing new technology into the airport that makes food and beverage transactions easier, safer and quicker is a top priority for HMSHost.

“Our partnership with Uber Eats is a testament to our safe dining commitment while providing a contactless order and pickup solution that elevates the overall passenger experience at Pearson.”

New food and retail delivery service introduced at DXB

Dubai International Airport (DXB) has arguably taken the new trend for on-site food delivery services to the next level by also embracing duty free items in its DXB&More offering.

According to the airport, DXB&more is a regional first mobile food, beverage and retail ordering service that provides a “smooth, convenient alternative to shopping, dining in or waiting for an order to go, without the need to download an app”.

Airport guests travelling from DXB’s Terminal 3, B and C gates, can access the new proposition via the WOW-fi landing page, QR codes around the airport or DXBmore.com.

It believes that once online, the process is simple and menus from DXB’s favourite restaurants and a variety of duty free shopping – including perfumes, beauty and technology – is available to browse and order.

Guests then have two options when finalising their purchase, to have it delivered directly to their gate or lounge, or to collect it themselves from the outlet.

Dubai Airports’ executive vice president for commercial, Eugene Barry, says: “We are always looking at ways to positively improve the experience our guests have at DXB, whether through the introduction of new retail and restaurant offerings, or through services and experiences like DXB&more.

“Over the past year we have spent time thinking about the future of travel, the type of journey our guests will want going forward, and how the travel retail environment needs to adapt to cater for these changes.

“By introducing DXB&more to Dubai International Airport, we are presenting our guests with a convenient and almost contactless way of enjoying their time in the airport.

“For busy travellers short on time, families who prefer to stay in one place or guests of the many airport lounges, DXB&more means they can shop in duty free or have something to eat from their favourite restaurant, without having to go too far.”

According to Dubai Airports, its ambition for the growth of DXB&more will see the platform develop into “an all-encompassing digital DXB experience, bringing together digital entertainment partners, more shopping and live experiences to guests already in the airport and those who are due to travel”.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *