Virtual Travel Retail Expo: Knowledge Hub

Thought Leadership (II)

On this page we revisit more of the big highlights of the Knowledge Hub at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo.

Cross-channel voices: Cruise, airline and airport

The return to cruising worldwide and how retail might look within it was the key theme of a strong presentation and Q&A session on Tuesday at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo, and featured three leading voices from the sector.

MSC Cruises Head of Retail Adrian Pittaway highlighted the role of people and the importance of innovation, discussing customer experience, product assortment and the business model.

Starboard Cruise Services President & CEO Lisa Bauer added her insights, noting that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of recent trends: experiential, luxury, omnichannel, digitisation, personalisation and conscious consumerism.

Harding Managing Director James Prescott struck an upbeat note, saying that cruise is coming back and will return stronger than ever. What can be a bright future needs to be built on solid foundations: cruise DNA, experiences, insights, people and partnerships. Full video below.

The rapid evolution of the airline model and the focus on ecommerce was thrillingly articulated by CEO Karen Chan in a further highlight of the week.

AirAsia flies 100 million passengers annually” she said. “Our platform is a way of life. It’s all about connection. Connecting people with people and becoming a platform where community meets commerce.”

That strategy, as reported, takes in AirAsia’s JV with Universal Music Group, RedRecords, dedicated to ushering in a new era of success for Asian pop music. That partnership of course supplied the Virtual Travel Retail Expo’s official song – ‘Passcode’ by Jannine Weigel – which played at the start of every day’s programme and continues to prove a huge hit on social media (see Introduction page).

London Heathrow Retail Director Fraser Brown offered both a big picture view from a global airport and some fascinating detail about the road to recovery at the UK’s major hub. He mapped out how Heathrow has worked its way through the many challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, operating strictly to prevailing government travel restrictions, and safely phasing the re-opening of retail and food & beverage. The eventual rebound in travel and consumer confidence though will only come with an end to the current ‘quarantine roulette’ and the introduction of COVID-19 testing on travellers – now planned to start on 1 December.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 285 | 4 November 2020

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 15 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

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