OTG aims to provide entertainment, eats and ads with new iPads
The iPad equipped Mill City Tavern in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (Courtesy of OTGmanagement.com)
IPads. 7,000 of them to be exact.
Earlier this month, airport food and beverage operator OTG Management began installation of over 7,000 iPads in restaurants and gate areas in three of OTG's nine airport markets. The iPads are provided free of charge and can be used to order food and products for in-seat delivery from OTG-owned restaurants and newsstands.
“Gates in the terminal comprise the single largest piece of airport real estate in an airport,” said Rick Blatstein, CEO of OTG. “O'Hare, for example, is so giant as an airport but the space is so constrained for food, beverage and entertainment. The iPad lets us take the largest real estate in the airport and open it up to the customer so you don't have to stand in line, loaded down with bags, with someone breathing down your neck while you're ordering.”
Travelers can also check email, social media, read the news and keep tabs on their flight information, which is displayed in a “breadbox” at the bottom of the screen. The iPads are tethered like they are when displayed in an Apple store and wipe password and user name information when users press the “home” button.
The rollouts in Toronto, Minneapolis and New York are just the first part of what OTG expects to be a full-fledged campaign in all of their airport markets, including Chicago. While there are no plans yet to install iPad terminals in O'Hare, where OTG operates several Cibo Express Gourmet Markets, they expect the tablet to be intricately involved in most of their future business. OTG eventually wants every seat in every restaurant to come equipped with an iPad and the company is planning the installation of “media bars” where travelers can rent iPads loaded with movies, music and magazines to watch at the gate or bring on the plane. The iPads can then be dropped off in cities with OTG properties or slipped in a pre-provided FedEx envelope.
Apple's iPad has found ubiquity in the business world for its convenience and portability. But more and more, companies are betting on the platform itself to be a money maker and not simply a conduit to sell burgers and headphones. Because airport travelers are somewhat captive after clearing security, OTG sees the glimmering lure of the iPad as a potentially valuable tool to reach a notoriously sought after customer base.
“Airport travelers are very well educated and normally very affluent. They're definitely a premier audience that is very targeted. The iPad creates the richest platform to get in front of these customers so of course we'll be looking at partnering with advertisers to reach our customers and app developers to get their apps out there,” said Blatstein.
Chicago start-up Belly also tapped into the digital siren song of the iPad when it built its in-store loyalty program. Customers scan a plastic keychain or smartphone on the camera of an iPad and receive points good for discounts and customized deals down the road. Because the iPad is a dynamic platform, Belly has created a launching platform for future advertising and upgrades to their loyalty services not available if they had installed a cheaper but static swipe card system like at Starbucks.
Based partially on the potential for future growth through their iPad platforms, in May, Belly secured a $10 million investment from venture fund Andreessen Horowitz whose stable includes shares of Facebook and Groupon.