The truckstop and travel plaza industry has changed significantly since our early predecessors opened the first Interstate highway-based fuel stops, and we are in the midst of changes that are going to once again re-shape our industry.
One thing that has become evident to me through my work with NATSO and my conversations with our Chairman’s Circle members and industry partners is that the current environment for petroleum marketers is shifting. Fuel efficiency on both passenger and commercial vehicles is improving, and the pie is shrinking when it comes to what has historically been the primary category of products we sell.
At the same time, more competitors are entering our space. We’re seeing c-stores add diesel fuel and driver amenities, and a growing number of retailers, such as grocers and big box stores, are adding fuel.
It is clear that we have to adapt to stay competitive and we have to always, always, always be looking for opportunity. Fortunately, I think plenty exist. Today’s customers are increasingly after convenience, which is something we’re known for and have perfected.
We can provide the speed and quality that speaks to shoppers, particularly in the areas of food service. Locals and travelers alike no longer have to go to the drive-through for dinner. They can come to our locations and get convenience items as well as their food for later in the day or instant consumption. I know of NATSO members that are having success with foods that we didn’t even think to carry 10 years ago.
One advantage we have as NATSO members is our alliance with industry partners who support our industry. NATSO’s Chairman’s Circle and allied members are working with us to share thoughts and ideas on where we can grow. They said a rising tide lifts all ships, and through the power of association, we can all succeed together.
Some of the best opportunities to learn from those around us take place at The NATSO Show and on NATSO’s domestic study tours. Simply speaking with our fellow operators and our industry partners to pick their brains and learn from them can help us to not only prepare for the future, but also become the threat our competitors fear. We can be an industry that is pursuing new ideas and adding innovative services that draw in more customers and grow our sales.
If you missed The NATSO Show, you can learn more about what took place in this issue of Stop Watch. You can also plan now to save the date for an upcoming NATSO event or learning opportunity. So many exist throughout the year, so please join us. Together we can share ideas and resources that can help each of us reach our short- and long-term goals for success.
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