Dark Windows in the Airport Make You Spend More
The darker the window, the more money airport passengers will spend.
That's the conclusion of a test at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) that installed "smart glass" at one of its gates. The technology allows the airport to adjust the opacity of the gate's massive windows to temper sun exposure, leaving the gate darker, cooler and more comfortable for passengers waiting to catch a flight.
When the gate is shaded by the electrochromatic glass, it increases the time that passengers linger in the terminal's bars and restaurants — what experts call "dwell time." Longer dwell time means passengers spend more money. At one bar in the DFW test, alcohol sales jumped 80% last October, compared to sales a year earlier. The smart glass installation was the only change.
The test was conducted by a design professor at Cornell University, and it found that surface temperatures on seats and carpets near the smart glass were 10 to 15 degrees cooler than before. Overall dwell time at the cooler gate increased by 53%, compared to a gate with regular windows, and overall spending increased, too.
“We definitely see the impact,” Casey Norton, a DFW Airport spokesman, told Bloomberg. The restaurant guessed that with the sun beating through the window, "it was too damn hot," and it might have been causing slow sales, he said.
The smart glass and DFW was installed by View, a Silicon Valley-based company that specializes in electrochromatic glass. Bloomberg compares the technology to the smart windows on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that feature a button to lower or raise opacity.
Food and beverage spending is the fastest-growing part of airports' concession business, according to the Airports Council International — North America. At a time when ride-hailing apps are cutting into airports' parking profits, which traditionally make up about 40% of airport revenues in North America, airports are looking to increase profits anyway they can.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is investing $3 million in View's smart glass product for its remodel of Terminal 1, and DFW will be taking bids to install 500,000 square feet of dynamic glass windows in its gates and concession areas.