Lessons from the pandemic
Key figures from across the airport, airline, brand and retailer sectors shared lessons from the pandemic in a key day one session, addressing in particular how the industry can become stronger through deeper collaboration.
Speakers included ACI Asia-Pacific Director General Stefano Baronci, Diageo Global Travel Managing Director Andrew Cowan, IATA Airports & External Relations Asia Pacific Regional Director Vinoop Goel and Lagardère Travel Retail Chief Operating Officer for Asia and member of the Global Executive Committee, Séverine Lanthier.
The key to revival is an enhanced approach to alignment with fellow industry stakeholders, they noted – a principle at the heart of the Trinity concept – and a common ethos to do so innovatively and sustainably.
Andrew Cowan: Sales in the spirits category in travel retail can double in the decade ahead
Andrew Cowan highlighted the Diageo view that sales in the spirits category in travel retail can double in size in the decade ahead, if all partners in the travel chain work more closely together.
He introduced an updated category strategy designed to work in collaboration with partners and with consumer experience at its heart.
Key pillars include planning for and introducing balanced choices, promoting further exploration and discovery, making the moment (with drinks choices to suit all occasions and lifestyles) and celebration (gifting for oneself and others).
Related to all of these is the underlying demand among consumers that travel retail shows itself to be a more sustainable industry.
He said: “We need to be on the hook as individuals and as a collective to understand how the consumer is changing. We need to think of new ways to inspire the consumer, to be restless in taking new methodologies available to us post-pandemic that weren’t necessarily available to us pre-pandemic, alongside the whole conversation around data and the role of digital.”
Stefano Baronci: “Back to the future” with traffic recovery
Stefano Baronci outlined the trajectory of recovery in the Asia Pacific travel market, noting that it is home to many still restricted national markets, with traffic in the region in 2022 down -45% compared to 2019, well behind other major regions.
However, on the positive side, the opportunity remains strong. Asia Pacific was home to nine of the top ten domestic market routes worldwide in October 2022.
Seizing on the positives, Baronci added that we are “going back to the future”. In 2011, Asia Pacific surpassed North America and Europe as the world’s largest air transport market and remained in that status until 2021.
That opportunity can be revisited with the recovery now under way, he said, with Asia Pacific currently at 2012 traffic levels. And that growth can be accelerated as long as the industry embraces the need to reconnect, improve and diversify.
Vinoop Goel: Passengers are willing to share their data, which represents an opportunity for the entire travel chain
Vinoop Goel said that the future of the industry is bright but lessons need to be learned from the pandemic, including further digitalising the journey and removing processes that eat into dwell time at the airport.
Goel said: “73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes. We need to work together to come up with more digitalised travel through biometric-enabled identification.
“Paper to digital transformation is key. It will need regulatory support and airlines, airports and agencies need to work together for global implementation.”
Séverine Lanthier: encourage and reward staff and ensure the business reflects strong sustainability credentials
Séverine Lanthier had an upbeat message for the industry as the pandemic impact recedes. “I remember someone saying to me before that travel retail is dead. But today we can say it is definitely not dead. We are the proof. We are still facing uncertainties but I do believe we can be stronger together.”
She said that Lagardère Travel Retail continues to emphasis its three strategic business lines; travel convenience, food & beverage, and duty free.
Lanthier said: “One mission is to encourage and reward our staff for their commitment and for making our business sustainable. Our second learning is how much we need our customers. Without our customers we would still be going through hard times. We need to serve them better by creating a 360-degree holistic experience customer journey and better responding to their needs.”
On industry relationships, she added: “We rely on airports and we need to move together in the same direction and collaborate, creating more balanced partnerships. The crisis has shown weaknesses in the traditional concessionaire model. We are now moving towards a profit-sharing model, boosting incremental sales through more flexibility.
“The landlord is our partner. We are not the tenant anymore. Together we are working closer to deliver a better service to the customer.”
In conversation: (From left) Severine Lanthier, Andrew Cowan, Stefano Baronci, Vinoop Goel and Dermot Davitt
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