Airports & Travel RetailersBlog
By: Peter Marshall   •   email:

PM: MK Illumination have been the global market leader in atmosphere lighting for many years. What’s your USP?

MK: It’s simple. Everything that we do revolves around creating atmosphere lighting solutions, delivered and installed across the globe, with every aspect of each project managed in-house through our strong network of experienced local partners. From idea and design to installation and maintenance – if it relates to atmosphere lighting, we do it. No other company in our sector can match our extensive track record or our work within 23 international airports.

PM: You and your teams in 36 countries deliver around 2000 projects across 100 countries each year – in shopping malls, high streets, town centres and airports. Those are impressive numbers. When looking specifically at airports, do you think that the current mindset is that ‘atmosphere lighting’ is a nice-to-have once a year over Christmas? Or do you think a better approach would be to integrate atmosphere lighting during the key planning stages of refit or new build?

MK: We pride ourselves on being able to understand and adapt to the needs of individual airports. Some need temporary solutions, others permanent solutions. And we can provide both. The sooner we are brought in, the better, because if we’re able to give input during key planning stages, we can airports plan their long-term atmosphere lighting strategy. Which means that we can have a greater impact on travellers because we are effectively creating a ‘lighting DNA’.

PM: What exactly do you mean by an airport’s ‘lighting DNA’?

MK: An airport’s lighting DNA considers a multitude of factors to give travellers a unique experience. One they’re expecting, frankly. Our lighting designs and atmosphere lighting solutions aren’t just about installing lights – we consider cultural references and values, local landmarks, an airport’s brand, the space within the airport itself and much more. The result is a story that belongs to the airport, one that taps into travellers’ hearts and minds and one that they will instantly recognise and associate with the airport.

That’s ‘lighting DNA’.

PM: Christmas aside, what makes you think that atmosphere lighting enhances the overall airport experience for passengers? is there any evidence to support the case that it is a genuine commercial driver?

MK: Atmosphere lighting in airports is still in its infancy and airports are only just beginning to understand its applications and potential, notably in terms of benefits to their bottom line. It’s a simple equation: atmosphere lighting = more traveller satisfaction = more dwell time =
higher spend per passenger.

It’s not just us saying it, we’re backed by research. m1nd-set has found that atmosphere lighting is one of the top three factors impacting on travellers’ satisfaction. While DKMA have found that when travellers are satisfied, they tend to spend 10% more time at an airport, they are twice as likely to shop and their spend is up 20% more in Duty Free!

PM: I know you tailor-make everything to match your clients’ needs. You also have ‘off-the-shelf’ products and solutions so that you can accommodate a range of budgets. But I am interested to learn what insights airports can glean from your global experience in other sectors – the high street or shopping malls, for example

MK: The high street and shopping malls are particularly prone to competition from online retail and they have long understood the need to offer their customers an experience rather than just an array of shops. Working with them has allowed us to fine tune our approach to the magic and the storytelling that atmosphere lighting creates to make shoppers truly experience their surroundings.

PM: Is there a case to be made that a culture change in airport management is now required to help make airports – and notably retail – that much more of an experience for travelling passengers?

MK: Absolutely! And the earlier that atmosphere lighting is included in any new terminal’s or pier’s planning stages, the greater the impact we can have on travellers’ experience, while minimising disruptions later.

PM: Finally, if there was one thing you wanted to say to senior management of the airport and travel retail business, what would it be?

MK: We are atmosphere lighting. It’s what we do. In the same way that airports call on the experts to design a terminal, so they should call on us to help them create the best possible atmosphere lighting and decorative solution for their travellers.

Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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