Disconnecting has dominated much of the travel industry conversation around travelers’ down time. Yale University psychology professor Laurie Santos has discussed the benefits of looking up from devices to enjoy a destination rather than letting technology completely take over travelers’ idle time. But some brands have realized it’s counterintuitive to encourage travelers to disconnect and leave devices at home when brands increasingly rely on travelers to share their trips across social media or use a brand’s mobile app. Also, potential customers who are biding time--think those stuck in a doctor's office or the local DMV--provide fertile ground.
Consider waiting at the gate to board a flight, relaxing in a hotel room after a day of meetings or touring, or lounging on a cruise line’s pool deck during a day at sea. Some hotels, for example, have integrated streaming platforms into their in-room entertainment systems to let guests control what they want to watch during idle time. Giving guests this control over the experience helps them reimagine hotels as an entertainment platform in addition to a place they rest their heads and boosts their brand affinity.
Airport time and how much of it is ideal is one of the most heated battlegrounds among frequent travelers. Some 75 percent of respondents in a recent CNN Travel survey said it’s better to arrive early to airports rather than just in time for a flight. U.S. and Canadian travelers, for example, wait an average of 90 minutes between security and boarding at medium and large airports, according to Airport Councils International, which represents more than 300 commercial airports in the United States and Canada.
Many large and medium-size airports, particularly those with international service, have ramped up retail and food and beverage offerings in recent years to make their terminals more inviting. Global airport duty-free and retail sales hit $76 billion in 2018, up 10 percent from 2017 and 76 percent from 2010.