Several airport restaurant and retail operators in North America have joined together to form a new association. The Airport Restaurant & Retail Association, or ARRA, has a goal of educating the broader industry on issues of importance to concessionaires.

The ultimate goal is to enhance the traveler experience, says Michael Mullaney, executive vice president, Hudson. “Really what we want to do is articulate items and opportunities that all of our members are seeing collectively, from positive ways to impact customer service to opportunities to enhance processes or procedures on a particular item,” he says. “It’s just going to make the overall service delivery – by a lot of great organizations, small, medium and large – more efficient and better.

“It allows a whole cross section of organizations to bring to the table what they’ve seen – both challenges and opportunities – and for the association to represent those to a very large audience as a collective opinion,” Mullaney adds.

Organizers were noncommittal about the key issues they hope to address through ARRA. “We haven’t gotten as far as actually sitting down and saying, these are the 20 things that we want to talk about,” says Patrick Murray, executive vice president of SSP America, who will serve as the first president of the ARRA Board “We just know that there are a lot of them, and that those who live in our business are more educated about them.” He says ARRA will be positioned to educate the broader industry about topics that are key to concessionaires.

More than 20 operators have joined ARRA thus far. ARRA will be served by a board of directors, thus far made up of 11 industry executives. Each board member will serve a three-year term. Plans are underway to hire an executive director.

Membership in ARRA is open to airport restaurant and retail operators in North America. For the time being, at least, membership is limited to operators. Murray says it was important to the group to ensure operators of all sizes participate in ARRA. That has been achieved, with membership from a broad array of companies including several ACDBE-certified operators.

Nicholas Crews, president of Crews, a small operator, says key challenges are the same across companies of varying sizes.

“Being able to have a platform to discuss opportunities and challenges and present a single voice back to our airport partners is beneficial to us all, no matter the size of the company,” Crews says, adding that collaboration and engagement with airports will ultimately enhance the guest experience, revenue and bottom line.

Member companies of ARRA, as of press time, are:

Paradies Lagardère
SSP America
Areas USA Inc.
Delaware North
Concessions International
High Flying Foods
Master ConcessionAir
Villa Restaurant Group
Aero Service Group
Byrd Retail Group
Java Star, Inc.
JQ Enterprises
Keys Group
LaTrelle’s Management
Newburns Management Group, LLC OHM
Tinsley Family Concessions
Transglobal Concessions, LLC