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Starbucks announced Monday a new partnership with OTG hospitality group to operate its airport locations, just one week after HMSHost ended its exclusivity agreement with the coffee giant.
Previously, HMSHost had been the only concession company that could partner with Starbucks at U.S. airports since 1991.
With a huge contingent of loyal customers, Starbucks is good for business — but that also means travelers often can end up having to wait in outrageously long lines to get their caffeine fix. This new partnership aims to make grabbing a Venti Pike Place easier through a combination of experiential concepts and innovative technology.
“OTG is thrilled to be forging this new and exciting partnership with Starbucks. Our mission is simple: deliver our guests what they want in the most efficient, frictionless way possible,” said OTG CEO Rick Blatstein. “This collaboration will allow us to introduce a fully re-imagined Starbucks customer experience, ensuring guests access to their preferred cup anywhere in the airport.”
While OTG and Starbucks will continue to serve customers at traditional storefronts within airports, they will also be introducing locations that can move throughout terminals, allowing fliers to have coffee delivered to them just as they board or arrive. They also plan to offer amenities found in on-the-street Starbucks locations such as mobile ordering and payment.
“Our partnership with OTG will allow us to expand our footprint and reach more customers across U.S. airports,” said Henry Klein, senior account executive at Starbucks. “We will also bring new innovations to the market and elevate the overall Starbucks Experience for partners and customers. This includes new store concepts and digital capabilities that meet our customers where they are in their particular travel journey.”
OTG currently has more than 350 restaurant and retail locations in 10 airports, including New York’s John F. Kennedy, Chicago’s O’Hare and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty. Restaurants operated by OTG are recognizable for their use of iPads, which allow customers to order and pay for items at their own pace without having to wait in a line. OTG has more than 5,000 iPads deployed in Newark alone.
It’s common for U.S. airports to partner with outside companies to operate their food and beverage. At the same time, most U.S. airports are owned by the cities or counties they are located in, which often encourage their concession partners to deal with local companies.
This contributed to HMSHost’s decision to sever its exclusive contract with Starbucks; in January, the company announced a 10-year contract to bring Florida-based Southern Grounds coffee to the Jackson International Airport later this year. OTG’s contract with Starbucks is not exclusive.