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  • Peter K 619 posts

    @Mouse instinctively £60-£75 feels like far too low a price for what you’re suggesting for it to be commercially viable.

    I have to agree

    Mouse 196 posts

    @AndrewT @JDB and @CJD I agree, I’m not entirely sure it would work. In its defence:

    I think with a smallish space, maybe 40-50 seats, it could be well used by the demographic of Heathrow travellers who have lots of disposable income and like nice things but don’t travel frequently enough to have status and don’t see value in paying an extra £300+ per person for short haul business.

    The customers who look to abuse the unlimited drinks could be a problem but a business like this is really trying to cover its fixed costs. Even the most enthusiastic boozehounds would struggle to get through over £60 of drinks at wholesale prices. As long as they are maybe 20% or fewer of your clientele you can probably do well enough from the rest to make a profit. And I think table service dissuades many from going over the top. But I accept my 20% may well be a gross underestimate!

    £60-75 was based on 3-4 drinks plus nibbles in a nice-ish bar in town. Indeed it be a bit low but not horribly so I think. There is also the potential for it to be run as the outpost of one of the Amex Global Dining-type restaurants (JKS Group for example – The Brigadiers Lounge?) and get some decent cross-selling opportunities.

    Having said all that, I have not fully convinced myself!

    Blair Waldorf Salad 1,189 posts

    @Mouse it all ends up boiling down to alcohol which is why I started a thread on an alcohol-free/paid alcohol only concept:

    I feel we need to keep crowdsourcing ideas for a way out of the current disappointing offering.

    tw33ty 212 posts

    I risk the wrath of being shot down here, or typecast as a mini jbd, but, the airport lounge drink problem, or the problem of certain folk kicking the arse out of it, became exponentially worse when certain folk started to get lounge access with that annoying holiday mob with the smug family in the adverts.

    jj 560 posts

    Most people in airline lounges are there because they paid extra for a comfortable seat; the lounge food and drink are an unnecessary bonus as they will also be fed and watered on the flight. Most people on contract lounges are there for the food and drink, and they intend to get value for money. You can’t get good quality food and drink anywhere outside an airport on an all-you-can-eat basis for the same reason.

    I suspect there might be a viable business model for a variation on what @Mouse suggests – a lounge that charges maybe £25 for extended entry into a high quality environment with only water, tea and coffee included in the cover price. A small range of deli-style, seasonal, artisanal, high quality, regional, seasonal produce could be available to order along with decent wines and craft beers, all on a pay-as-you-go basis. I would certainly be a customer when I had no access to an airline lounge.

    I don’t need free. I need good.

    executiveclubber 361 posts

    A small range of deli-style, seasonal, artisanal, high quality, regional, seasonal produce could be available to order along with decent wines and craft beers, all on a pay-as-you-go basis. I would certainly be a customer when I had no access to an airline lounge.

    You have described a restaurant.

    Blair Waldorf Salad 1,189 posts

    It’s a restaurant but with a cover charge. I feel we are triangulating on the USP of a good lounge; that being does it keep one well away from riffraff. Riffraff obviously being subjectively defined. I am reminded of my first visit to Dubai when I saw the tram and the metro had separate Gold Class carriages at about 4 times the price of standard. Why would that be needed on public transport, I wondered. After one day in standard I’d bought up to Gold.

    jj 560 posts

    @executiveclubber, it’s about the environment. A restaurant is primarily about eating, so is full of tables and chairs and you’re expected to move on when the food is finished. I’m talking about a place where the food is incidental, and the primary purpose is to give a comfortable place where you can relax. In an airport, one often has 3 hours or more to spend in the lounge. No airport restaurant would stay in business for long if it made sofas available to people for that long.

    dundj 106 posts

    I suppose there could be a question of could an airport group offer lounges at all of its airports as a membership, which you pay an annual fee for that is significant enough to only be for those who would be travelling on a highly frequent basis. Also giving private security channels too.

    The lounges would be of a much higher quality than the contract lounges, and better than an airline lounge too. Including restaurant quality a la carte food, premium drinks, high quality comfortable seating, not to forget good toilet and shower facilities. Plus, staff giving individual boarding calls in person. In addition, if you wanted duty free purchases these could be brought to you at the lounge from the shop(s) you want.

    Question would be, what would people be prepared to pay to become a member of something like this on an annual basis?

    Londonsteve 213 posts

    Would be interesting to know if there is a market for a genuinely premium lounge offer. Something like for say £60-75 per person you get at-seat service of premium drinks (real champagne, bartender-mixed cocktails, interesting beers, wines that retail at £25-30 a bottle), excellent snacks (I’m thinking high quality cheese & charcuterie, canapés, etc), option to pay for freshly-cooked restaurant-that-you’d-actually-visit-at-home quality food, guaranteed maximum of 70% seat occupancy, service by people who have actual hospitality experience. I think in major cities you’d have a decent base of people prepared to pay that just to get away from the riff raff for a couple of hours.

    You’ve just described the Qantas lounge at T3. Anyone can enter, I think the price is £65 for 3 hours. Anyone with a bit of an appetite that drinks alcohol will get their money’s worth, while enjoying a smart environment away from the airport melee. The best time, in my opinion, is during breakfast service from 8 am when there’s full table service with a variety of good brunch options without getting too busy. The Dreamliner that does the morning non-stop service to Perth has finite premium capacity so there’s plenty of space to spread out. Bit harder in the evening before the QF2 departure as the 380 has a lot of First and Business seats. Between these times (a downtime of 4-5 hours, depending on whether it’s the winter or summer timetable) I wouldn’t pay money to enter as there’s only a buffet on offer.

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