The Airport Experience News Podcast

With Ramon Lo

About The Show

Airports possess some of the most unique environments. They are full of challenges and constraints that test the most seasoned professionals. Despite the obstacles, some of the most creative, innovative solutions have been produced in airports. These ideas resulted in an elevated traveler experience: from food to retail, design to passenger services and more. But the work continues and the airport experience will continue to evolve. These stories will be told here. The Airport Experience News Podcast, hosted by Ramon Lo, features conversations with airport industry experts, operators and executives who continue to ask questions, challenge the standard and take risks.

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Episode 72
Howard Eng, president & CEO, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Howard Eng has compiled a long list of memories and experiences during every stop in his storied career. It began in his youth when aspirations of becoming a pilot went unfulfilled. But he maintained his connection to aviation by expanding into airports as an administrative trainee with Transport Canada upon graduating from university.  From that point onward, Howard went on to Edmonton International Airport to Hong Kong International Airport and ultimately to Toronto Pearson International Airport. As he begins the next phase of his life, Howard shares what he has learned, what he will miss most, and what he is looking forward to.  

This episode is sponsored by Airport Dimensions. For details on how they can bring their solutions to your airport to increase your lounge revenue, enhance passenger services and more. Visit airportdimensions.com for more information.

Episode 71
Manuel Soto, CEO, Skyline Concessions

Manuel Soto began working at the family’s airport business when he was in college and continued on to adulthood. After many years, he decided to take all that he learned and experienced and branch out on his own. And so, Skyline Concessions was born and with it, a high degree of risk in addition to doubts and second-guessing. But thanks to perseverance, Manuel and Skyline Concessions continued on and after a few years won its first contract.

November is Small Business Month and so for the entire month we will feature various small businesses in airports. This entire series is sponsored by global retailer WHSmith. For more information go to www.whsmith.co.uk.

Episode 70
Sarah Imberman, owner, S Levy Foods

Sarah Levy Imberman started her career going to school for culinary, making chocolate candies and desserts first in her mom’s kitchen and then eventually growing it into her own business. The Chicagoan literally had a sweet beginning to her career, meeting celebrities and partaking in baking competitions on Food Network. Sarah then took her talents to the airport space partnering with SSP America.

November is Small Business Month and so for the entire month we will feature various small businesses in airports. This entire series is sponsored by global retailer WHSmith. For more information go to www.whsmith.co.uk.

Episode 69
Abby Carey, concessions development manager, Portland International Airport

Abby Carey rose through the Port of Portland first in public affairs then to customer relations and eventually to her current position as concessions development manager for Portland International Airport. The sum of her experiences at all levels of the Port gave her valuable exposure to how the airport operates as a member and extension of the community. In this episode of Ones To Watch, get to know more about Abby who is a native Portlander with a strong sense of pride for the region and the airport.

Episode 68
Mr. Song & Jonathan Song, Plaza Premium Group

…and the expansion of a global brand in an emerging category here in North America.

Episode 67
Pat Murray, SSP America

…and a discussion over various trends and issues in the industry.

This episode is sponsored by Briggo Coffee Haus, the robotic, fully automated barista brewing specialty coffee experience. Learn more at Briggo.com.

Episode 66
Josh Morgan, Melt Shop

…and the creation and need for personal workspaces in airports.

Episode 65
Jeremy Jennings, Jabbrrbox

…and the creation and need for personal workspaces in airports.

Episode 64
Paula Kucharz, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

When news of Paula Kucharz retiring from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was texted to me, I had to take a step back. She’s been someone who has been a large part of the airport concession industry, using her skills and experience from street side retail leasing to help elevate the program at PHX and to help influence the industry as a whole. This episode allows Paula to look back at her career and look ahead to what the future holds for her and for the industry.

Episode 63
Kate Webb, Tampa International Airport

Georgia native Kate Webb began her aviation career with Chattanooga Airport before moving northward to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. In no time, she made her way back south to Tampa International Airport as the director of concessions. In this episode of Ones To Watch, you don’t just learn about what brought Kate to the industry and how she’s developed her passion for the airport industry. You’ll learn about how she’s really embraced her new state. Also not to be missed is a little known fact about what prompted her to go on a very unique journey across the country.

Episode 62
Candace McGraw,Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

In this episode, Candace McGraw talks about her beginnings as a lawyer and her eventual journey to airports. Candace shares her many loves for the industry as well as a few hidden gems that reveal much more about her as a leader and as a person.

This episode is sponsored by Airport Dimensions. For details on how they can bring their solutions to your airport to increase your lounge revenue, enhance passenger services and more. Visit airportdimensions.com for more information.

Episode 61
Stan Thornton, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority

…and the improvements to Orlando International Airport that have elevated the traveler experience.

Episode 60
Adam Torine, Villa Restaurant Group

…and the multiple shifts of a brand in an ever evolving industry.

Villa Restaurant Group has grown in its more than five decades of existence, beginning with Villa Pizza to Villa Italian Kitchen and then to a portfolio of quick and full service brands operated in a variety of environments. After years of seeing its brands expand into airports, VRG has now taken the next step and become a restaurant operator in airports.

Episode 59
Deven Judd, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

Deven Judd’s career has steadily risen, beginning in Jacksonville International Airport before heading to aviation consulting firm Jacobsen|Daniels. Several years later he joined Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which began nearly five years of learning under the tutelage of the world’s busiest airport. He is currently the director of concessions development for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, overseeing both Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles. Although he considered a couple careers in his early years, it wasn’t long before he settled on what has been his true calling.

This episode is sponsored by Crews. Innovative. Strategic. Entrepreneurial. Hospitality-focused. Learn more at crews1972.com.

Episode 58
Lew Bleiweis, Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority

In this episode, Lew Bleiweis discusses the many points of his journey that would ultimately lead him to his position as executive director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority. Lew shares the many moments and people who impacted him as a person, his love for the industry, several of his favorite pastimes, and more.

This episode is sponsored by Airport Dimensions. For details on how they can bring their solutions to your airport to increase your lounge revenue, enhance passenger services and more. Visit airportdimensions.com for more information.

Episode 57
Nikki Harland, Paradies Lagardére

…and the many rapidly evolving and expanding responsibilities that Human Resources undertakes in a company and in an industry that is also rapidly evolving and expanding.

Episode 56
Dr. Samantha Gray, University of Indianapolis

…and the psychological and sociological impact that technology is having or could have on us.

Episode 55
Kylies Fung, McCarran International Airport

Kylies Fung has been with McCarran International Airport for four years, one of which was as an intern as she attended school at UNLV. Like many, she never thought about a career in airports nor did she ever think that her schooling in Hospitality Management would be applicable to this environment. But years later, she sees the connection between her learnings and the evolution of the industry. Airport hospitality is a common refrain that you will hear throughout this episode because it is the mindset that is prevalent amongst the team at McCarran International Airport.

Ones To Watch is a new, recurring series produced by Airport Experience News. Here we will feature emerging, up-and-coming members of commercial management teams from across North America.

This episode is sponsored by Crews. Innovating the traveler experience since 1972.

Episode 54
Tonja Pastorelle, Pastorelle Marketing Group

…and how the years of experience are so vital to personally evolving and staying relevant while also enabling one to give back and mentor.

Episode 53
Tyler Pitman, HMSHost

…and the well-traveled path that brings fresh and engaging concepts to airports.

Episode 52
Nina Madonia, The Grove, Inc.

…and setting the course for growth and evolution of a long-standing food operator.

Episode 51
Vito Buscemi, Delaware North

…and the passion of authenticity, old world and scratch cooking guiding food trends.

Episode 50
Isabella Rhawie, Minneapolis-St. Paul International

It’s been a memorable five years for Isabella Rhawie. In a relatively short time, she has been involved in the planning and tendering of a new program and is now watching that same program come to life. In our conversation, Isabella details how she came to the airport, the nearly overwhelming amount of info she had to learn and what she compared it to, her influences that extend beyond the airport community, and more.

Episode 49
Juan Higueros, Bear Robotics

…and how the impact of robotics on the street could perhaps soon be felt in airports.

Episode 48
Rick Belliotti, San Diego International Airport

…and the story behind the airport’s Innovation Lab and how every airport should have one.

Episode 47
Will Baumgardner, ARUP

…and the impact that autonomous vehicles can have in airports.

Episode 46
Julia Dietmar, Vue.ai

…and the application of various AI-powered products by Vue.ai that will enhance a retailer’s reach and impact and perhaps this can help airports?

Episode 45
Ryan Patel, global executive and CNN Contributor
…and the impact of the recent tariffs both globally and locally at the airport level.

Ryan Patel is also a senior fellow at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management. Ryan is also a regular CNN contributor, columnist and keynote speaker.

Episode 44
Demetria Wideman, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Demetria Wideman has made quite an impact during her time at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Since arriving eleven years ago, she truly cannot look at air travel in the same way. During her time, Demetria has been a part of and a witness to the many milestones and achievements at ATL. Additionally, she notes how the airport has strengthened her.

Ones To Watch is a new, recurring series produced by Airport Experience News. Here we will feature emerging, up-and-coming members of commercial management teams from across North America.

Episode 43
Roddy McOwan, Marshall Retail Group

…and the state of retail, its trends, its challenges and its future from the perspective of an emerging player.

Episode 42
Laura Beebe, Palm Beach International Airport

…and the leading of Palm Beach International Airport.

Episode 41
Kristen Clonan, Hudson Group

…and the quick public relations, communications, and marketing acclimation from one industry to another.

Episode 40
Jeff Danzer, Jeff The 420 Chef

…and the culinary trend of cooking with cannabis.

Episode 39
David Shaw, Indianapolis International Airport

Just under three years into his time at Indianapolis International Airport, David Shaw has already seen and experienced plenty. Learn about what brought him into the industry, what he has learned and from whom, and how his views on airports have changed.

Ones To Watch is a new, recurring series produced by Airport Experience News. Here we will feature emerging, up-and-coming members of commercial management teams from across North America.

This episode was sponsored by OHM Concessions. Learn more about their exceptional operations in each of their twelve airports by visiting ohmgroup.com.

Episode 38
Brad Wolfe, Salt Lake City International Airport

…and the continued evolution and expansion of a major airport.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the “New” SLC.  Read Carol Ward’s interview with SLC executive director Bill Wyatt in the May issue of Airport Experience News. CLICK HERE to subscribe now.

This episode was sponsored by OHM Concessions. Learn more about their exceptional operations in each of their twelve airports by visiting ohmgroup.com.

Episode 38
Brad Wolfe, Salt Lake City International Airport

…and the continued evolution and expansion of a major airport.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the “New” SLC.  Read Carol Ward’s interview with SLC executive director Bill Wyatt in the May issue of Airport Experience News. CLICK HERE to subscribe now.

This episode was sponsored by OHM Concessions. Learn more about their exceptional operations in each of their twelve airports by visiting ohmgroup.com.

Episode 37
Chris Hartman, At Your Gate

…and an emerging service for travelers that was created by need but shaped by the airport industry.

Episode 36
Gower Smith, Swyft

…and the evolution of the retail experience, first by automated means and then [you will just have to listen!]

This is the third and final installment of our short series Rise Of The Machines where I chat with companies in the airport experience market who are at the intersection of technology and food and retail.

Episode 35
Kendall Baker, Chowbotics

…and overcoming the perception that fresh, chef-crafted cannot be produced by a machine.

This is the second episode in the Rise of the Machines series where I chat with companies in the airport experience market who are at the intersection of technology and food and retail.

Episode 34
Christina Cassotis, Pittsburgh International Airport

…and her personal journey rising through the industry and how she sees career paths as lattices and not ladders.

This is the final episode in a series celebrating the role and impact of women in airports.

This is the continuation of a series celebrating the role and impact of women in airports.

Episode 33
Erin Humphreys, Enroute Spa

…and the raising of an airport business on the shoulders of a passion for wellness.

This is the continuation of a series celebrating the role and impact of women in airports.

Episode 32
Kevin Nater, Briggo

…and how the automation of a popular beverage could disrupt all beverages in airports.

This is the first episode in the Rise of the Machines series where I chat with companies in the airport experience market who are at the intersection of technology and food and retail.


 

Episode 31
Barbara Yamamoto, Los Angeles World Airports

…and the work of a chief experience officer reversing the traveler experience at one of the busiest airports in North America.

 

Episode 30
Ray Kayal, NewsLink Group

…and the industry view of the past, the present and the future from the eyes of a mid-size operator.

 

Episode 29
Atousa Ghoreichi and Laura Fitzrandolph, HMSHost

…and the strength that comes with being representative of the customers you serve and the power of a diverse and dynamic organization.

 

Episode 28
Zenola Campbell, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

…and her journey to the airport, work as a mentor and growth as a role model.

This episode is sponsored by Minute Suites. For more information on their units, the many amenities that their suites offer, and how to bring them to your airport, visit minutesuites.com.

 

Episode 27
Michael Svagdis, SSP America

This is the ninth of nine episodes that were recorded live at the 2019 Airport Experience Conference, which took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In this episode I chat with Michael Svagdis of SSP America.  We talk about the evolution of his opinion on the industry, his evolution as a leader and what he sees in the future for the company.

This episode, as well as the studio it was recorded in, is sponsored by Tastes on the Fly. For more information on Michael Levine and the Tastes on the Fly team, visit tastesonthefly.com.

Episode 26
Paul Brown, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

This is the eighth of nine episodes that were recorded live at the 2019 Airport Experience Conference, which took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In this episode I chat with Paul Brown of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  We talk about the benefits of working for the busiest airport in the world, how he’s used the sum of his experiences to help him in Atlanta, and the playing field for ACDBEs.

This episode, as well as the studio it was recorded in, is sponsored by Tastes on the Fly. For more information on Michael Levine and the Tastes on the Fly team, visit tastesonthefly.com.

Episode 25
John Reeb, San Francisco International Airport

This is the seventh of nine episodes that were recorded live at the 2019 Airport Experience Conference, which took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Here I chat with John Reeb of San Francisco International Airport. He talks about the many upcoming opportunities, the outlook for the airport, and what else to expect.

This episode, as well as the studio it was recorded in, is sponsored by Tastes on the Fly. For more information on Michael Levine and the Tastes on the Fly team, visit tastesonthefly.com.

Episode 24
Scott Carr, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport

This is the sixth of nine episodes that were recorded live at the 2019 Airport Experience Conference, which took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In this episode, I chat with Scott Carr of Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. Scott and I chat about the completion of the airport’s WINGSPAN project, it’s impact on the community and the airport’s passenger experience evolution.

This episode, as well as the studio it was recorded in, is sponsored by Tastes on the Fly. For more information on Michael Levine and the Tastes on the Fly team, visit tastesonthefly.com.

Episode 23
Justin Meyer, Kansas City International Airport

This is the fifth of nine episodes that were recorded live at the 2019 Airport Experience Conference, which took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In this episode I chat with Justin Meyer of Kansas City International Airport who gives a bit of background on his responsibilities, the work to upgrade the airport and more.

This episode, as well as the studio it was recorded in, is sponsored by Tastes on the Fly. For more information on Michael Levine and the Tastes on the Fly team, visit tastesonthefly.com.

Episode 22
Ben Zandi, Fraport USA

This is the fourth of nine episodes that were recorded live at the 2019 Airport Experience Conference, which took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  This episode I chat with Ben Zandi of Fraport USA, who talks about the exciting work they’re doing at JFK Terminal 5 and Nashville International Airport.

This episode, as well as the studio it was recorded in, is sponsored by Tastes on the Fly. For more information on Tastes on the Fly, visit tastesonthefly.com.

Episode 19
Michael Levine, Tastes on the Fly

This is the first of nine episodes that were recorded at the 2019 Airport Experience Conference, which took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  This episode I chat with Michael Levine of Tastes on the Fly.

This episode, as well as the studio it was recorded in, is sponsored by Tastes on the Fly. For more information on Tastes on the Fly, visit tastesonthefly.com.

Episode 18
Roger Fordyce, Hudson
…and the taking of the reins of an established airport retail giant.

Episode 17
Bryant Francis, Oakland International Airport
…and how your reach should always exceed your grasp.
This episode is sponsored by High Flying Foods. For more information on their diverse collection of market-specific, local dining experiences, go to highflyingfoods.com

Episode 16
Bill Casey, Areas USA
…and the taking of the next crucial steps to further grow and expand a company.

Episode 15
Vince Modica, Wolfgang Puck
…and how to keep a brand fresh and relevant as everything else changes.
 

Episode 15
Vince Modica, Wolfgang Puck
…and how to keep a brand fresh and relevant as everything else changes.
 

Episode 14
Woody Bibbens, ReachTV
…and getting, then keeping,the attention of a distracted and focus-starved traveling public.

Episode 13
Christina Cassotis, Pittsburgh International Airport
…and the coalition building and mindset changing needed to lure new routes.
This episode is sponsored by Fraport USA.  Learn more about their work at BWI, CLE, PIT, JFK Terminal 5 and, soon, BNA at fraport-usa.com.

Episode 12
Kelsey Finn, National Association of College Auxiliary Services
…and the many things we can learn from the higher education space.

Episode 11
Lise D’Andrea, Customer Service Experts
…and whether there is an erosion or an evolution of customer service.
 
 

Episode 10
Chellie Cameron, Philadelphia International Airport
…and the value of connecting and communicating through a different medium.

To listen to the Taking Off with Chellie Cameron podcast, click here or go to iTunes.

This episode is sponsored by MarketPlace Development, the creators of world-class retail environments. To learn more about their services and opportunities, visit marketplacedevelopment.com.
 

Episode 9
Peter Amaro, Master ConcessionAir
…and the need to develop all the necessary tools in order to grow, expand and mentor.
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Episode 8
Rod Tafoya, Mission Yogurt
…and navigating the many obstacles facing small businesses.
 
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Episode 7
Rob & Nick Crews, Crews
…and the taking of the baton and carrying the business forward.
 
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Episode 6
Corliss Stone Littles, CSL LLC
…and the history of a small airport business intertwined with the growth of an emerging industry.
 
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Episode 5
Joya Kizer Clarke, Casa Unlimited Enterprises
…and the trials of a small airport business.
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Episode 4
Cindy Martin
…and the importance of making old new again.
Make sure to register for the Airport Experience Conference at airportxnews.com/conference
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Episode 3
Greg Plummer, Enjoy Repeat
…and knowing that when one door closes, another one opens.
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Episode 2
Kenneth James, LaTrelle’s Management Corporation
…and the continuation of a generational business.
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Episode 1
Liz Grzechowiak, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
…and the value of creating a culture of opportunity.
This episode is sponsored by Areas USA. Learn how you can bring the signature Areas experience to your airport and to your travelers. Visit areasusa.com to find out more.

Introduction
Ramon Lo, publisher of Airport Experience News
…and why he wants to have a conversation.