Travel Daily UK catches up with Pauline Cheung to hear about the Plaza Premium Lounges at London Heathrow Airport
Tell us a bit about Plaza Premium Lounges – when did it launch, from where do you operate, etc?
Plaza Premium Lounge is a global service brand and the industry leader in Premium Airport Services. Our brand was launched in both Hong Kong International Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 1998 by our founder and CEO Mr Song Hoi-See.
Mr Song identified a gap in the market when he flew economy class without the access to the airport lounge facilities which he had previously enjoyed. This left him struggling to work effectively whilst on the go and thus saw the creation of Plaza Premium Lounges.
Plaza Premium Lounges is undergoing expansion at the moment – what are your plans?
It’s an exciting time for the business and we have bold plans for the coming year, dedicated to expansion within London Heathrow Airport. Currently, we have arrivals and departure lounges in Terminals 2 and 4 and will soon be adding to this portfolio, with an arrivals lounge in Terminal 3 as well as a departures lounge in Terminal 5.
The arrivals lounge in Terminal 4 opened recently and features a multi-functional meeting room, accommodating up to 20 delegates at any one time. The lounge also features Flight Club, a unique healthy-eating dining experience specifically for travellers who are renowned for eating unhealthy whilst travelling. Not only that, the lounge also has 25 shower rooms. We took the decision to incorporate showering facilities due to how popular the terminal is, particularly with the amount of morning flights that arrive on a daily basis. Terminal 5 Departures is also a busy terminal and the high footfall of passengers daily is a key factor in enabling us to open a lounge witihin the terminal later this year.
How do you work with UK travel agents, can they earn commission selling the product? Can they experience the lounges?
We do like to work closely with travel agents as they are a valuable asset to the business. We have a service called the Partner Portal which travel agents can sign up to and use. Once signed up, they can use the service to book passengers into any of our lounges across the world, helping enhance their airport experience whether it be upon departure or arrival. This service also allows the travel agent to stand out in a highly competitive market. We already have strong links with the likes of Holiday Extras and Viator and are seeing increased interest from major travel wholesalers when it comes to partnerships.
As well as offering exclusive preferential rates to travel agents, they also have access to their own dedicated account handler which allows them to ask questions at any time. Our Partner Portal offers different discount tiers to suit each travel agents business needs and requirements. At the same time we offer a 20% discount for IATA members who would like to experience our lounges during their business or leisure travel.
What type of client does the product suit? Who uses the lounges and what’s on offer?
All of our lounges offer a haven away from the departures or arrivals hall of the airport. They’re equipped with comfy seating, unlimited high speed Wi-Fi, luxury shower rooms, an extensive beverage selection and freshly made food.
We have found that our arrivals lounges are popular with guests that have arrived too early to check-in to hotels. They also prove popular with passengers looking to refresh with a shower and hot food before leaving the airport.
Groups that are travelling for sports purposes or incentive bookings will often book our departures lounges as it means they all have an area to sit together. It’s no secret that at airports, there is a lack of waiting space for groups and often they want to escape the hustle and bustle of the airport setting so using the lounges is ideal.
At Plaza Premium Lounge, we pride ourselves on the fact that our lounges are open to all travellers and suitable to a wide range of clients, whether they be independent travellers who don’t want to pay for a first class ticket, airline contracted passengers, families or couples. Eligible credit card holders and selected lounge membership programmes are also granted complimentary access to our lounges.
Finally, tell us more about – Aerotel – launching in Q4 this year.
Aerotel (which sits under the Plaza Premium Lounges brand) is an airport transit hotel which will be located landside in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport. Transit hotels are relatively new to the UK marketplace and come with the aim of providing convenient booking hours which suit travellers’ needs. In terms of a location, we felt that Terminal 3 was ideal for the concept as it is home to major airlines such as Virgin and Delta who operate long haul flights out of the terminal.
These airlines see a number of flights landing in the early morning and so we felt it made sense to provide a service which allows passengers to book accommodation where they can rest and refresh before moving on to their final destination. Not only that, Aerotel also allows those passengers who are travelling on early flights to check in late in the evening and avoid early morning transportation to the airport. Aerotel will also be an ideal resting place for those who have long layovers at Heathrow and need to go through border control and re-check in before the next leg of their trip.
Aerotel will be located just a short distance from the check-in desks meaning booking a room and staying at Heathrow Airport couldn’t be any simpler.