Pilot Co. investing $1B for makeover at travel centers nationwide

March 9, 2022

Tyson Fisher


Over the next few years, truckers may notice improvements at Pilot Co. travel centers as the company launches a massive $1 billion initiative called New Horizons.

On Wednesday, March 9, Pilot Co. announced its $1 billion investment at more than 400 Pilot and Flying J travel centers. Called New Horizons, the three-year project is intended to remodel hundreds of travel centers across the nation. Several more locations are planned to receive some upgrades.

Pilot is using feedback from customers and employees to guide its remodeling decisions. Among the improvements are remodeling restrooms/showers, expanding kitchen/dining areas, improving driver-focused amenities, expanding digital engagement with customers and installing the latest fueling and retail technology.

Using shareholder funds to foot the $1 billion price tag, about 60 locations will undergo major remodeling this year. Nearly 100 more are scheduled to experience what Pilot Co. called “refreshing.”

Exterior improvements

New Horizons will make improvements from inside the store to outside in the parking lot.

Although there are no definite plans to increase truck parking, Pilot Co. said during a news conference that adding more parking spaces may be part of improvements on a case-by-case basis. However, improving the lighting in the parking lot is part of the overall plan.

Pilot Co. CEO Shameek Konar said the company shoots for at least 70 truck parking spots at each location. With a few dozen new locations coming this year, that will translate to a few thousand more parking spaces.

Truckers may also notice more alternative fuel technologies as the nation moves toward zero-emission vehicles. This includes more electric vehicle charging stations to relieve what is commonly referred to as “range anxiety.”

Additionally, store buildings will get a makeover. Although construction plans are still in the works, concept designs reveal a more modern look for Pilot Co.travel centers.

Interior improvements

Most of New Horizons’ upgrades will take place inside more than half of Pilot Co.’s travel centers.

Pilot Co. is responding to truckers’ desire for clean restrooms and showers. Some of the improvements to restrooms, showers and laundry amenities include new tile, fresh paint and brighter lighting. Touchless fixtures will be installed when possible.

Truckers also want more options when it comes to food. New Horizons will meet those demands with an expanded menu. Food options will include fresh, cut fruit (clementine, pineapple, blueberries, etc.), fresh deli items and homestyle meals. Be on the lookout for brand new items, including the Bigger Better Burger and chicken pesto pizza.

Technology will play a significant role in New Horizons with seamless connectivity between the app, pumps, store and kiosks.

Using data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, Pilot Co.’s MyRewards app users may notice a more personalized experience. For example, if a trucker prefers a certain product, the app will provide offers for that product.

Drivers are always racing against the clock. To provide a quicker experience, Pilot Co. plans to install  self-checkout kiosks. Currently, 70 locations offer self-checkout. By the end of New Horizons, the majority of stores are planned to have that option.

Konar said that in a post-COVID world, people are placing a higher value on experience. New Horizons is an effort to provide an enjoyable experience rather than just ordering off an app and moving on.

“Traditionally, you go in and say ‘I know a lot about our guests. I know a lot about our industry. Here’s what we should do,’” Konar said. “We’ve changed our thinking to a philosophy of a lot more humility. We are going around to our guests – taking the good with the bad as there has been some tough feedback from guests, and that’s OK – because our goal is to learn from them as to what they like, what they don’t like and fix those problems and create more of what they like.” LL