Priority Pass Parent Company Invests In Grab — What This Means For Members

As I’ve written about extensively, Priority Pass has significantly increased their lounge footprint in the US lately, and part of this includes adding restaurants to their lounge network.


Bobby Van’s JFK, a Priority Pass restaurant

The logic is that at some airports Priority Pass has a tough time striking a deal with a major lounge due to crowding issues, so when that’s not possible, they instead work with a restaurant. Priority Pass pays a fixed amount for each guest who enters a lounge, so instead Priority Pass is just paying these restaurants a fixed amount, and then you can spend some dollar amount at that restaurant (typically $28-30).

Capers Cafe Le Bar PDX, a Priority Pass restaurant

While we’re now up to about two dozen Priority Pass restaurants in the US, it looks like this will soon be expanded significantly.

Collinson, the parent company of Priority Pass, has today announced a “significant investment” in Grab. For those of you not familiar with Grab, it provides mobile order-ahead capabilities at airports across the UK and US. I’ve written about my experience with this app before.

It’s a great way to be able to place an order for food and drinks when you’re in a rush. You can place the order as you arrive at the airport, and it should be done by the time you’re through security.

So, aside from Collinson’s general involvement with airport lounge spaces, what should we expect from this? Here’s how they describe the big picture of what they’re hoping to get out of this:

Collinson and Grab will work together to create new services for travellers and commercial opportunities for airport restaurants and retailers. The partnership is an exciting example of Collinson’s wider airport strategy to work with external partners to continue to grow and develop its market-leading airport loyalty proposition. Collinson will also support the acceleration of Grab’s roll out, leveraging its international footprint and relationships to expand to new markets globally.

As part of this new agreement, Grab will be introduced at a selection of UK and US airports to Priority Pass members. The press release says that this is for “members who have purchased their membership directly through prioritypass.com,” so it remains to be seen if this will also be available to those who get their Priority Pass membership through a credit card.

This will allow members to order food and drinks directly from the Priority Pass app for convenient pick up within minutes.

Grab is now available at almost 30 airports with over 250 outlets, while Priority Pass has a total of over 1,200 airport experiences.

Bottom line

We’ll have to wait and see how this is executed, though it has the potential to be exciting. I imagine Collinson has a few different goals with this investment, including being able to scale Grab and sell their own products through the app.

Beyond that, this has the potential to be exciting for Priority Pass members. Maybe we’ll see the opportunity to place to-go orders for existing Priority Pass restaurants through the app. Maybe we’ll see Priority Pass add a permanent benefit across all Grab locations. That seems a bit optimistic, though you never know.

Let me once again emphasize that I wouldn’t count on this being a sure thing for those who have a Priority Pass membership through a credit card, though, since the press release specifically references those who purchased a membership through prioritypass.com.

What do you make of Collinson’s investment in Grab?

Comments

  1. So impressed by Priority Pass’s lates moves. Now if only they would partner with a restaurant in the Little Rock airport I’d be set!

  2. I don’t see how the economics of this work for Priority Pass obtained through credit cards. Example – CSR fee is $450 which includes PP membership. They give you back $300 in travel credits. Ignoring the bonus points and Global Entry Fee credit sicne they are 1x events, I don’t see how even a caul user of priority pass clubs or retautants can be profitable. I use my priority ass 1 – 2x a month at a minimum- often with a guest. At $25 a pop, that’s $600 a year just for me. I’ve used my PP card 2x in a day sometimes. The money has t come from somewhere.

  3. @keitherson That was my first thought as well. I thought they were going to start up some sort of food delivery service at first.

  4. My issue with restaurants at most US airports and many airports overseas is the quality of food they offer. Priority Pass can offer 20 restaurants in each airport but if their food is inedible, we have something like a Hyatt Place breakfast – it’s there but of no use to me.

  5. PP has nothing really to gain by enhancing its value to credit card memberships. They are already getting the fixed fee from the credit card companies. This press release begins to allude to the differentiation between those who pay on their own versus credit card associations. They are looking to drive in more revenue and this is a way to do that. Just as they had a “Select” product differentiation, you may see something along those lines for those that sign up directly and that may provide additional benefits such as Grab.

  6. I too thought this would be a post about Grab (the ride service). I’m UK based and have never heard of this other Grab – which confusingly uses the same green colour scheme! Cease and desist letter on the way surely..

  7. @Debit reminds me of things that are really hard to get rid of – like your original set of luggage or herpies.

  8. I read the post and came up with my own thoughts. And they were exactly RGB’s.

    How do the financials continue to work if there is any meaningful value to a Priority Pass holder at Grab restaustants? What Citi or Chase pay PP for a cardmembers is no doubt highly proprietary, but there is surely a limit, perhaps $150/yr. That seems to be enough to pay for cardmembers’ use of janky lounges that serve little more than beer and peanuts which have low costs. Prepared meals, especially ones at secure airports, are another thing altogether. And, no doubt, they rely upon memberships of folks who never use those memberships, but if the offerings get better, this breakage has to decline.

    So the more robust the offerings get, the quicker the goose that lays the golden egg gets slaughtered. This may be good in the short term, but long term, perhaps not so much.

  9. Previous posters correct- that name is taken and the owner won’t accept this – this lot are doomed to a new name, assuming this odd business model succeeds , why call ahead ? If you are late- it’s a tepid meal or a microwave touch up( a la a certain fast food rest in Auckland airport in the eighties that zapped it in front of you). If early it still isn’t ready and you might change your choice when you look at other diners plates! Many places are also culturally well known in some countries or regions and unknown elsewhere and you can miss a great opportunity to eat a new type of food if you just call ahead to well known names and don’t risk it on something you don’t know and can’t see or assess( clean kitchen and/or serve area, clean well turned out staff, busy or quiet, appealing looking meal etc.
    If the place can’t serve when your there- go elsewhere . The most inefficient will get help perhaps from this but places that are well run won’t need it.
    Grab( the real one) isn’t just S E Asia’s biggest ride share- it chased Uber out and bought it over completely in some Asian countries though now they don’t have the same competition they aren’t doing as many discounts and the gap with regular taxis is now almost gone. I guess call it disruption if you like but subsidising to keep prices low doesn’t generate profit- no matter how hip your start up is and when that subsidy is removed- economic and societal fundamentals are again dominant . And in grand case in most markets that means the return of the taxi as main choice.

  10. It makes sense that they diversify. I no longer bother with the Alaska Airlines lounge at LAX. Their “priority pass not available” sign is almost a permanent fixture in Terminal 6, just like they are at every Alaska lounge in SEA.

    To the question of economics via Priority Pass Select (credit card membership), some of us pay for that repeatedly.

    For example, I have this via Amex Plat, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and SPG Luxury Amex. So whatever the program gets paid, they receive it three times from me. I doubt I’m an outlier for the target audience of these cards.

  11. I really find the complaining about PP from those who get the benefit as part of their premium credit card petty. I’ve had PP for many years, initially the paid program but for the past many years as part of my Amex Platinum benefit package (and before that from my Diners card). To be generous I’d say the PP portion of my Amex annual fee is less than $100 which works out to 3-4 entries a year. I’ve never been turned away from either the SEA or LAX AS Clubs and figure I have an annual lounge use of a dozen entries a year on my travels. As I have both OneWorld and STAR status for lounge entry when flying member carriers, and of course Centurion lounges at several US airports I transit through, I get plenty of value from the PP program and have no complaints. I’d expect most of your readers are in a similar situation so complaining is really petty to the Nth degree.

  12. @Andrew

    That is why I try to be fair with all the banks, I try to spread it out among all cards. Otherwise one bank would get 1-300 visits per year. And be careful of # of guests for each card.

  13. @RJB, I wonder if the economics work like gym memeberships. Maybe they are losing money you and your 2x monthly uses but they are making a killing on the 100s of others that never visit a lounge or airport restaurant (for which the card issuers are still paying them something).

  14. Interesting to read comments, as I have another usage. I get my PP thru AMEX living in MIA. I never use the Centurion Lounge since its always over-crowded and there is a new and spacious Admirals Club 50′ away, but I use three of the PP restaurants at MIA at North Terminal (American). There are times where I use PP twice a day.
    If it were not for the PP access, I would definitely cancel AMEX in a heartbeat.

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