Today, we are happy to feature back Daniel Kinnoch, CEO and Co-Founder of LoungePair. This interview is a catch up from our last one together. He shares with us how they worked through some of the challenges faced during the pandemic and what they are working on next! Thank you for your time Daniel, keep up the good work at LoungePair and looking forward to our next catch up!
1) Please tell us about yourself and your role with LoungePair?
I’m a pretty simple guy really. My day job is as an urban planner, however I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset, and have always wanted to build my own business. When you cross pollinate that with love of travel, including airport lounges, then voila, you get LoungePair. My role with the business is to coordinate product development, identify new opportunities for growth, and identify the ‘data’ anomalies in people’s use of lounges and their movement through airports that signify changing trends. What I love the most though is engaging with our lounges partners, hearing feedback from our customers, and generally just working with people. That’s where the fun is.
2) Purchasing airport lounge access isn’t really anything new, there have been ways to do this for a long time. What is LoungePair working on in order to remain competitive?
If there is one thing that won’t go away as a result of this pandemic, it will be people’s desire to have a seamless journey through an airport, and have predictability regarding their access to lounges and F&B, preferably minimising as many physical touchpoints as possible. There are many lounges that are quiet, but just as many that are busy, particularly when the number of lounges available has dropped in some airports. If you’re a Priority Pass cardholder, or have status with an airline, preferably you’d love to not have to wait in line at a lounge, interact with another person, and maybe even have a chair waiting for you. The problem we’re facing is that lounges don’t know who is coming to their lounge and when, there is no systems integration, and front desks are doing everything manually. This needs to change and we’re actively scoping out how we can help solve some of these pressure points for lounges and travellers alike.
3) How has the pandemic impacted your business? What have you done to keep things going?
The pandemic has been hard on us and every business in the travel space. We see peaks and troughs with the number of requests we receive. Another struggle is that some airport lounge operators are struggling to make the transition to more flexible visitor access models – for example, a lot of our users tell us they are only wanting to spend 1-2 hours in a lounge maximum. However some operators that we’ve spoken to still insist on three hour visits. This seems to fly in the face of what their customers want and are telling us. So to keep us going, we do what we feel we’ve always done best – continue to iterate, learn and understand what is happening on the ground. We’d actually love to visit a lot of the lounges we’re working with, and have a plan to do this once we can leave New Zealand!
4) What can we look forward to with LoungePair?
Our long-term mission is to help lounges better understand who is coming to their lounges, and when, in order to allow them to better forecast and plan their operational needs. We need to bridge all access options in order for this to occur – we’re looking at a technological solution in this space.
5) Any closing thoughts?
Airport and air travel is going to be in an incredibly disruptive space in the coming decade. Many of the IT systems used, and the business ethos in general remains very much unchanged from the 1990s, if not decades earlier. There are also dominant market players that remain resistant to change, and are failing to see the tides that are facing them. I also believe that loyalty programmes will continue to become the pivotal way that airlines and possibly many other travel businesses maintain their profitability. Some companies are now just loyalty businesses with subsidiary plane services!