‘Return on Attention’ for associates: the HMSHost approach to F&B for airports

Walter Seib, CEO HMSHost International: “The Midfield Terminal gives us an ideal canvas upon which we can demonstrate our global strengths in F&B operations, creating places to be for people on the move.”

HMSHost is a Gold Sponsor at this year’s ACI Airport Exchange. Ahead of the event, Walter Seib, CEO HMSHost International, shared some thoughts with Ross Falconer.

The new Midfield Terminal is the pinnacle of Abu Dhabi Airport, iconic in the region, and aiming for excellence in airport design, size, architecture and technology. Indeed, it will be the focus of a ‘Deep Dive Session’ in the Airport Development & Sustainability Conference at this year’s ACI Airport Exchange.

HMSHost is Gold Sponsor of the Deep Dive session on the Midfield Terminal.

“The session is unique because it gives the audience a 360-degree view of the development of an airport terminal by involving specialists from F&B, security, technology, and the airport itself,” explains Walter Seib, CEO HMSHost International. “Our goal is to share insights into the role of F&B in contributing to this distinctive global airport masterpiece. During my talk I hope to share some of the story behind how we choose the optimal mix of F&B stores for our airports, taking the audience by the hand to experience the customer journey – our ‘Return on Attention’, the essence of our approach to F&B for airports.”

HMSHost is bringing a mix of global performers and bespoke brands to the Midfield Terminal. “Most notably, we are excited to bring China’s InWe Tea, Australia’s Jones the Grocer, UK’s Comptoir Libanais, Italy’s Bottega, Indian favourite Masale, and our very own VIT to the Midfield Terminal, among others, giving an international flavour for our international travellers.”

As a global operator across more than 30 countries, HMSHost has comprehensive insight into F&B trends. “We can anticipate where trends are within their lifecycle and make strategic decisions on which micro trends to incorporate into our macro trends-based concepts,”
says Seib.

The “guest journey” is central to this. Using its consumer segmentation approach, Tribes Study®, HMSHost analyses guest data and creates a selection of brands it feels best meets their needs. “We then use this same data to strategically position our stores for maximum relevancy to passenger flow,” Seib adds. “With this approach, we ensure that our presence at each airport is relevant and fresh, meeting not only the needs, but the interests, of our guests.”

Midfield Terminal: “an ideal canvas”

As an international operator, HMSHost’s presence in the Middle East, where it first entered the market in 2012, is strategic to its growth.

“The relationships we build with our partners are incredibly valuable to us,” Seib explains. “By building partnerships in which we not only listen to the needs of our stakeholders, but work together to reach mutual goals, we can position our concepts for success. This is even more so with our relationship with Abu Dhabi Airport, where we have worked together to realise their dream of success through innovation and development in their iconic structure – arguably one of the most prestigious projects in the region at this time – sharing our expertise on the passenger journey and supporting their vision. The Midfield Terminal gives us an ideal canvas upon which we can demonstrate our global strengths and expertise in setting up F&B operations in a greenfield airport, creating places to be for people on the move.”

HMSHost sees innovation as essential in meeting the needs of its guests and ensuring the business is as agile as possible. Alongside the Kiosk ordering system developed to solve bottlenecks at fast food stores, it recently partnered with an app in the Netherlands where guests can enjoy a fast-track service for F&B ordering.

“In many of our sit-down restaurants we offer innovative digital ordering and payment systems for our guests, and this is especially relevant in our presence in China where in-app ordering systems are a part of day-to-day life,” Seib comments.

It is not only the front of house, or guest-focused, areas of the business that HMSHost is innovating in. In the Nordics it has partnered with an app that helps optimise and streamline refrigeration and quality processes.

Looking ahead, Seib explains that HMSHost plans to continue growing its footprint in high traffic areas including airports. “Part of this is in ensuring our guests receive the best service possible, and we see this as a key delivery from our cultural change movement: ‘Return on Attention’. By giving our associates, and business partners, the attention they deserve, we are creating places where people want to be – places where guests feel welcome, reinforcing our position as preferred partner for F&B operations.”

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