By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Established in 1998, Plaza Premium Group operates lounges, airport hotels and dining concepts at 45 airports around the world, including the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia
The Middle East is one of the fastest growing markets for airport lounges, with a young and tech-savvy consumer base driving demand, according to Song Hoi-See, the founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Group.
Established in 1998, Plaza Premium Group operates lounges, airport hotels and dining concepts at 45 airports around the world, including in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Dammam, Salalah and Muscat. Earlier in January, the firm also opened a Plaza Premium Lounge at Dubai International Airport.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Song said that “there is a lot more to look forward to” when it comes to lounges in the region, particularly as the UAE heads towards Expo 2020 Dubai.
“Demographically, the region is very interesting, as half of its population is currently under the age of 25,” he said. “The young travellers are very tech savvy, which is why we need to also focus more on being digitally ready and cater to this segment.”
Airport hospitality consumers in the Middle East, Song added, are “unique in their own way and they know what they want”.
“Being in the centre of the globe they are used to travelling and have high expectations of the service industry,” he added. “They are aware of luxury and are willing to pay to get the level of service they demand. They are also very brand conscious, and maintaining status is important to them.”
Additionally, Song said the rise of low-cost carriers make independent airport lounges – rather than those tied to airlines or financial institutions – more important than ever.
“Modern travellers seek uplifted travel experience including their time at the airport and having lounge access has been getting traction,” he said. “When business travellers taking short haul trip on economy class, they would certainly appreciate a WiFi-enabled space while enjoying a coffee or a meal before their flight.