Denver International CEO: "Our goal is to empty your pockets."

 Denver wants to persuade you to spend more at the airport. Photo: Denver International Airport. 

Denver wants to persuade you to spend more at the airport. Photo: Denver International Airport. 

Want to buy a gallon of milk at the airport? Maybe a loaf of bread? Perhaps some school supplies for your children? Or a prescription at the pharmacy? 

Denver International Airport wants its customers to do all that and more, CEO Kim Day said at last week's Skift Global Conference in New York. She seeks to accommodate two groups - one she calls "elites" and the other she calls "explorers." The elites are frequent travelers. The explorers are "energetic" and "optimistic" people who love traveling.

"Both of these groups want to do their chores at airport," Day said. "They want to keep their lives going. They want to order their kids back-to-school needs and pick up a loaf of bread and milk."

For at least the past decade, airports have been adding shopping, turning many terminals into versions of shopping malls, with stores like Michael Kors and Victoria's Secret. That trend will probably continue - Denver has plenty of high-end shopping and wants more - but Day is optimistic the 'milk and bread' approach will work too. 

"We want to add services that make you say, 'Wow I didn't know I could do that at an airport," she said. 

A lot of this stuff won't help connecting passengers, but travelers who start and end their trips in Denver could get a lot of use out of a dry cleaners or pharmacy, Day said. They might also enjoy a coat check, so they can leave winter gear in Denver while they head to Mexico or the Caribbean. Travelers arriving in Denver might even want to book their lift tickets for skiing and snowboarding while still in the terminal. 

"People want an airport experience that makes them feel more human," Day said. "We are trying to develop a boutique airport."

In the future, Day also wants to use existing mobile phone technology to target messages. She said she wants to send travelers texts like these:

Welcome to DIA. Your flight is 15 minutes late. You have time to go to that cafe 30 feet to your left and buy a latte. Do you want us to put the order in for you now?

Why is Denver doing this?

There's only one airport in the region, so passengers don't have another choice. They can't switch to one with better amenities. The reason isn't competition with other airports. 

Instead, Denver wants to add more money to the airport's coffers. The more revenue the airport earns each year, the less it will have to charge in rent and landing fees to its largest tenants - Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines. 

If airlines pay less in fees, they could be more inclined to start new routes. And that's what Denver wants. "It's our ultimate goal," Day said. 

What do you think of Denver's approach? If you lived in Denver and flew often, would handle your regular errands at the airport?