Sign up for any premium credit card these days and in addition to the handful of benefits that you receive, you’ll also be offered a free membership to a program called Priority Pass.
Established in 1992, Priority Pass originally made its name by operating and selling memberships to airport lounges around the world. But as 2018 and the next generation of travelers starts to take shape, Priority Pass is starting to reconsider what should come along with membership in its program.
“The airport of 2018 is very different to that of the early ’90s — now with more sophisticated dining options, spas and increasingly experiential offerings,” suggests Christopher Evans, Joint CEO of Collinson, the company that owns and operates Priority Pass. “In parallel, we have also seen changes in the demographic of Priority Pass members, with increasing numbers of younger members and a surge in leisure travelers,” he continues.
Multiple studies have shown that younger travelers place a higher value on experience and personalization over brand loyalty and other traditional creature comforts.
Seeing that shift, Priority Pass appears to be starting to respond. In 2017 and 2018, Priority Pass started partnering with a greater volume airport dining experiences in addition to traditional lounge options.
On the ground, this means that instead of going to a lounge, a traveler might present his or her Priority Pass card at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse at JFK and get $28 in dining credit. So far, according to Evans, 33 restaurants have been added to the Priority Pass portfolio. Others are in the pipeline for later this year.
Outside of dining, Priority Pass is also exploring other airport experiences. In May, Priority Pass started working with Minute Suites in Charlotte Douglas International Airport to give free personal lounge and shower access away to members. And the new offerings appear to be popular. “Travelers are responding to the increased choice of services we are seeing in airports and other transport hubs around the world,” said Evans of the recent additions.
All together, Collinson’s moves point to a future in which membership in Priority Pass will include far more than simple lounge access with free Wi-Fi and lukewarm hors d’oeuvres. And for business travelers tired of the same old drawn-out airport terminals and executive lounges, this should be very welcome news.