Traveling Soon? Vending Machines Becoming More Advanced

By Victoria Robertson on December 27, 2016

What if vending machines offered healthy options? What if they offered electronics? What if vending machines were a one-stop-shop for all of your souvenir needs?

No, I’m not talking about those fruit dispensing machines that look way too sketchy to want to purchase your fruit from, and I’m certainly not talking about that run-down souvenir shop that’s selling overpriced seashells. I’m talking about new vending machines that dispense anything from pieces of art to fresh salad.

Impossible right?

Not so much.

In recent years, airports have renovated restaurants and stores to keep travelers happy and entertained as they wait for their flights.

pexels.com

But as for the vending machines, an upgrade was necessary. In fact, most airports only have a few vending machines, and they only dispense soda or bags of chips.

Now, Oakland International and Kansas City International Airports (as well as another airport on the east coast that hasn’t yet been announced), now offer vending machines that dispense gourmet food.

But that isn’t all.

These machines also dispense artistic works, including art, jewelry and t-shirts.

The machine comes from SouveNEAR and, according to cofounder Suzanne Southard in an article from NBC News, “The small footprint [of a vending machine] gives us an opportunity to be in more spots within an airport so it’s easier for people to find us.”

She adds that the machine is meant to be “fun” and to provide travelers another means to purchase their food or entertainment as they wait for their flights.

And again, that’s not the only thing that vending machines are dispensing nowadays.

FuelRod is another company that has vending machines along the smartphone and gadget realm.

These machines are in over 20 airports in the U.S. as well as a few international airports and they dispense portable chargers (at a low price of about $20) and they can be swapped out multiple times for fully charged replacements so you’re never out of battery life, even if you forget to charge your phone before you leave or you drain the battery too quickly waiting in line for security.

These swaps can be made in malls, hotels, convention centers and even theme parks now as well, so your battery life is always thriving, no matter where you are on your vacation.

So what about that fresh salad?

As of last month, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has a vending kiosk that offers fresh salads and other healthy snacks that are dispensed in clear, recyclable jars. The kiosk is from Farmer’s Fridge, and two more are scheduled for installation in the same airport by the end of the year.

The kiosk is touchscreen and has a menu that offers all selections, including meals with organic and local ingredients.

And the best part?

The food isn’t overly priced. You can grab a meal for anywhere between $7 and $12.

So while it’s more expensive than say McDonald’s, it’s without a doubt the healthier choice.

This machine is restocked every night, and all unsold items are donated to food pantries in the area.

According to Farmer’s Fridge spokeswoman, Beth Somers, “On weekends the machine’s smart technology only allows it to sell food items, such as trail mix, that have a longer than one-day shelf life.”

According to Raymond Kollau, a Trend Analyst and Founder of Airlinetrends.com, “Airport vending machines don’t have to be synonymous with chips and chocolate bars,” they can now, “combine the food trends of local, healthy, authentic and convenient.”

It will be interesting to see how far airports (and other businesses etc.) would be willing to go to dispense items through vending machines. While this is certainly a big step in the right direction, there are still countless options that haven’t yet been discussed or even conceived, yet.

The most important aspect of vending machines being used in this way, especially for travelers, is convenience, efficiency and cost. These are low cost options that are quick and easy for those on the run.

Because main competitors will be fast food chains in airports etc., it’s important that these options be just as quick, easy and inexpensive, and it looks like that’s going to be the outcome.

And it definitely helps that electronic options as well as all-around shopping options are offered as well, just for those last-minute instances in which you forgot to charge your phone or you didn’t grab a souvenir for your boss and need a last minute airport gift that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Especially for students that travel to and from school, these vending machines are going to be the best and cheapest way to do so.

Basically, when you’re paying ridiculous fares for flights, you don’t want to be spending a small fortune at the airport, and you certainly don’t want to take up any time that would cause you to miss your flight.

This is the alternative that everyone can get on board with.

Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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