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Key players discuss how to work together to prevail.

The definition of the word “partner” in the Oxford American Dictionary is: “a person who shares or takes part with another or others … with shared risks and profits.” During this difficult economic climate, the truest aspects of the partnership bond are being tested. At airports where the foundation for those relationships is sound, success will be accomplished in the short term and over the long run. At airports where key components of a partnership are absent, companies will fail and the number of failures will depend on the length of downturn.

Fortunately, good partnerships do exist in the airport world; in the following roundtable discussion, representatives of four airports and four concessions companies talk about the commonalities of their strongest partnerships. The discussion below is the first installment of a two-part series about this issue. Pauline Armbrust moderated the discussion and those taking part are John Cugasi, concessions director, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International; Scott Kilgo, senior manager of concessions development, Port of Portland; Jay Kruisselbrink, vice president, BAA Pittsburgh Inc.; Richard Chinsammy, vice president of business development, Westfield Concession Management; Gerald Savaria, president and CEO, HDS Retail North America; Robert Stanton, vice president of business development, Delaware North Cos.; Iris Goldschmidt, president and CEO, Airport Wireless; and Carla Wytmar, director of development and marketing, Vino Volo.

Armbrust: What would you say are common elements of your strongest partnerships?

Kilgo: We take the time to make sure we’re very clear on what we’re trying to develop with each concession and the program overall and what we are working toward. This helps us set the right business terms, lay out the right concepts we have for the mix, and from there we work toward selecting very qualified operators with the best brands that can fill whatever role we’re looking to fill and then working practically with them as things change.
I have been at three other airports before coming to Portland and I have worked with HMSHost at all four airports I’ve worked at. I can tell you that we have a wonderful relationship with Host here, and we don’t have the same trials and tribulations that I had in other airports. I attribute some of that to, from the very beginning, we were crystal clear with their business terms, what we were working to accomplish and what our expectations were … so that everybody understood and we didn’t have these evolving expectations that get in the way of profits being compromised with high rents and things like that. And I think that foundation is what really sets the stage for a healthy partnership because it can be a true win/win.

Read the entire story in the upcoming April issue of Airport Revenue News.
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