I was delighted to be one of the judges in this year's ACI-NA concessions contest. I have been to a lot of airports, and it's always a pleasure to see what are the newest and latest trends in concessions. You can see the complete list of winners on ACI-NA's website, here
I will do my annual public service and offer some tips and thoughts for those who decide they might want to apply next year. And look for my blog post with thoughts on who I think should have applied -- but didn't.
The judges went through more than 100 applications, and certain themes began to emerge with this year's entries, just like 2009 and 2008. Again, I ran my thoughts by the judges -- one of which was a past Greisbach winner -- and here are our suggestions on the elements that make up a winning entry. Photographs
– again with the photographs!! Every year we discuss how entrants need to spend money on taking professional photographs or making sure you have a good photographer on staff to accompany their entries. Judges don't want to see staged photos of staff/employees/travelers at concessions. we want to see interior and exterior shots, and we also want entrants to focus on product pictures. And please -- on behalf of next year's judges -- PLEASE skip the “blurred” shots - shots of people using really slow camera shutter speeds. They add nothing to your presentation.Terminal Maps and Floor Plans
– again. please include them. Many of us have been to a lot of airports, but there were some we hadn’t visited, and a detailed map -- with arrows -- to see where the concessions are would be a great help.Sell the concept
- you need to actually sell your theme and concession experience. There were some great group concepts, but there was no theme or experience offered, so the messages were confusing and we had to move on.Highlight your best concepts
– this seems like a no-brainer, but we saw quite a few submissions that didn’t include an airport’s best concepts. We knew about them because we had seen them, so it made us wonder why some were hiding their best stuff. Make sure you’re in the right category
– we saw a few entries in categories that had us scratching our heads. If you're not sure, check with others. Or better yet, call ACI-NA and ask for the lists of past winners, which will give you great guidance.Show us the money
- preferably with graphics. We liked easy-to-read charts and graphs that back up the financial numbers used in the submissions. And please - make sure your numbers add up. There were entries that used numbers encompassing the entire concessions program, which didn't allow us to see the true economic impact.Be clear
– use arrows, diagrams, and clear graphical tools to bolster your presentation. Some entries had excellent “before and after” images, which were greatly appreciated. Don't submit multiple entries of the same concept
- we had some companies that submitted way too many entries of the same concept, and frankly, the concept was not all that impressive. Pick one or two you think are the best in your group and go from there.Look at previous winners for clues
– ACI-NA has the list of past winners on its web site. You could help your presentations a great deal by seeing contacting past winners and ask to see what they did. Hey, you can even email (email@example.com) or call me (202-383-2080) and I'd be happy to chat about the process.Show a diversity of stores
– we saw presentations that focused on certain concepts and seemingly ignored other ones we thought should have been included.
Work with your airport on your presentation
– we saw presentations that could have been improved if only the submitter had run it past their host airport.Cut the logo slides
– we saw presentations that pasted up a bunch of logos. Replace them with actual photos of the concept.Have someone independent actually look at your submission
– it’s amazing how a fresh eye of someone that didn’t help put the presentation together could help make it better. And run it by your host airport too.
So there you have it. Congratulations to the winners!