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  • I Offer You My Airport Concession Confessions
    Posted by Benet Wilson 7:32 PM on Aug 05, 2010

    I read with interest that Airports Council International-North America is calling for submissions for the 2010 Richard A. Griesbach Excellence in Airport Concessions contest.  I've been a past judge in the contest, and you can read my blog post on last year's winners here.

    I was chatting with my airline/airport geek friends over the new concession program at New York's LaGuardia Airport unveiled yesterday by Delta Air Lines.  We were al marveling over the variety of food/beverage options and that airport concession management company OTG -- the brains behind the program at JetBlue's JFK Airport T5 program -- managed to muscle out the usual companies.

    The conversation then steered toward airport concepts we all liked, which got me thinking -- what food/beverage/retail concepts should be entered in the concessions contest, with applications due Aug. 16.  So I decided to give a few of my favorite concessions a little push, hoping they'll submit an application before the deadline.

    First up is Vino Volo, currently in 10 airports, including my hometown airport Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall.  As a wine lover, I'm wondering why no one came up with this concept before -- offer world-class wines by the glass or bottle, let people buy said bottles to go and offer little plates of food in a comfortable setting with tables and power outlets.  I'm also a fan of the La Bodega winery at DFW Airport's Terminal D.

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    All photos by Benet J. Wilson

    Then there's the La Carreta Cuban restaurant outside Terminal E at Miami International Airport.  I went to college with a bunch of Cubans, and developed a passion for the food. The pork pressed sandwiches are to die for, and the Cuban coffee is divine.  Kudos to MIA for giving passengers a great representation of local cuisine.

    Back at the ACI-NA 2008 annual conference, some really smart person at XpresSpa decided to open a mini facility -- in the middle of the convention exhibit floor.  They offered manicures, massages and facials, and the place was always packed -- mostly with men! I try and visit this vendor whenever I pop up in one of their airports.

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    There is nothing worse that getting sick while on the road.  That's why I really like Harmony Pharmacy, currently at San Francisco, JFK and Newark airports.  They have the usual over-the-counter stuff, but in case of emergency, you can have your prescriptions called in. According to their website, they're coming to DFW, Cleveland and BWI airports this year.

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    My family comes from the Bay Area and Texas, both of which are pretty good outposts for barbecue.  So whenever I have a layover at Houston Intercontinental, I get my fix at Harlon's BBQ.  And I will go out of my way to go to Austin-Bergstrom for Salt Lick BBQ, whose smell just permeates (in a good way) throughout the airport.

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    I am a bargain shopper who HATES to pay full price for anything. So I'm a BIG fan of the Bijoux Terner chain, which offers great women's clothing and accessories for $10.  Yes. Everything in the store is $10. I've bought watches, purses, earrings and my beloved pashimas (12 at last count).  The store is nicely laid out and very conducive for shopping.

    I just love my sushi. But you can't just eat sushi anywhere, which is why I'm a fan of Matsutake Sushi at Washington National Airport's national hall. The fish is fresh, and it's a lovely oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the main airport hall.

    On the road, you're always looking for that perfect gift for the child in your life.  I won't include Orlando in this, because they have a distinct advantage, having Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World on the premises.  So I'll go west to Salt lake City International Airport to the Creative Kidstuff store.  I love the variety of toys and games at good price points, plus they actually encourage children to touch the merchandise.

    I could go on, but I think I've touched on the high points.  And I hope you won't be offended if you didn't make this list.  Having traveled to many airports worldwide, I know there are a lot of great concepts out there, so if you like what you do -- enter the contest!!

    Tags: tw99, airport, concession, ACINA

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