“We can and will emerge stronger”

Changi Airport Group Executive Vice President Commercial Lim Peck Hoon issued an inspiring opening address to guests attending the virtual APAC Dialogue webinar hosted by APTRA and The Moodie Davitt Report.

Lim Peck Hoon, Executive Vice President, Commercial of Changi Airport Group (CAG), gave a fascinating and powerful keynote address to kick off the inaugural APAC Dialogue webinar, staged by the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association and The Moodie Davitt Report on 17 March (see previous pages). Lim offered insights into how CAG and the airport community have worked together to fight the COVID-19 crisis, pivoting and transforming the Singapore Changi Airport offer to help offset the profoundly challenging trading circumstances. In her address, she sent a defiant message of hope, commenting: “2020 is over but we are still in the middle of the pandemic. But we remain deeply hopeful. We believe that the human desire to make face-to-face connections and the thirst for wanderlust remains strong and the demand for air travel will return.” She continued: “With the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, things will get better. In the meantime, we must remain resilient and agile to change, whether it be in new ways of serving our customers, new ways of working with our partners and new ways of experiencing the airport. “By working closely with our partners in the Trinity, retailers and brands, we can and will emerge stronger from the crisis.” A central theme of Lim’s talk – which should inspire all travel retail stakeholders in the Asia Pacific region, and the wider world – was how CAG, faced with the reduction of air traffic, has rethought “who our customers really are”. She said: “Pre-COVID, Changi used to serve 68 million passengers annually. Now we have no passengers but does this mean we have no more customers to serve? That was our old mindset. But our customers are still our customers, they are just stuck at home, unable to fly now due to the travel restrictions.

Click on the video to play the full opening address from Lim Peck Hoon at the APAC Dialogue session, hosted by APTRA in partnership with The Moodie Davitt Report

“And we should still continue to engage them and serve them. And with this mindset shift, we have been pivoting our business strategy towards better serving this non-traveller market, with the support of our retailers.” This, Lim highlighted, has manifested itself through a number of digital initiatives including further development of Changi’s ecommerce portal, iShopChangi. She said its focus has been switched from being largely a ‘buy-and-fly’ business model to become a non-traveller marketplace that actively targets local residents in Singapore. She added: “With the support of our retailers, we now offer all Singapore residents tax-absorbed home delivered shopping without the need to fly. Shoppers who are non-travellers now contribute over 97% of iShopChangi’s sales, which has grown beyond pre-COVID levels and is still growing. “We are making use of this lull to build new digital products that will allow our customers to engage with us digitally and to offer a truly omnichannel experience.” In this regard, there have also been several developments with the iChangi app – including COVID safe travel initiatives, such as the booking of slots for check-in and also departure security screening – and Changi’s own e-wallet, Changi Pay, is soon to be introduced.

“Now we have no passengers but does this mean we have no more customers to serve? That was our old mindset. But our customers are still our customers, they are just stuck at home, unable to fly now”

Other initiatives highlighted include the transformation of Changi’s food & beverage business with the launch of its own food delivery service, Changi Eats; airside shopping tours for specially invited guests from the Changi Rewards programme and key partners; and the Christmas Changi Festive Village event, where Changi was converted into a one-stop entertainment hub for families. Speaking about the latter initiative, Lim said: “For many Singapore residents, Changi holds a special place in their hearts, and we hope that these activities not only show Changi’s resilience even in our darkest moments but also bring some joy and delight, and some semblance of a return to normalcy for our fellow Singaporeans.”

The Christmas Changi Festive Village was one of many initiatives that have helped Changi Airport Group to serve its customers through the pandemic

She acknowledged the cooperation of Changi’s commercial partners to make these important initiatives a success. She said the spirit of partnership has led Changi to give vital support to these partners, who have also faced a collapse in business due to the pandemic. Speaking about that support, she said: “It has been obvious to us from the onset that CAG’s survival and success alone is not sufficient. As just one party in the aviation eco system, the survival and success of the Changi Air Hub depends on the survival and success of all our partners. And we are resolved to support and work with them to ride out the storm together.” Lim revealed that CAG had lobbied the Singaporean government to ensure that travel retail partners are treated as part of the aviation industry “which has been disproportionately impacted”, and would hence qualify for enhanced job assistance schemes and grants.

“We at Changi have always understood our mission – to connect Singapore to the world and the world to Singapore”

Changi Airport Group set up Singapore’s largest vaccine centre in Terminal 4 in just seven days

At the same time, she said, Changi worked with the relevant government agencies to help tenants in retraining and upskilling their workforces and providing absentee payroll support, and also job matching and job placement. “CAG has also supported retailers and partners with additional rebates and waivers on charges and rentals, beyond that offered by the Singapore government. More importantly, we have been partnering our tenants to grow sales,” she added. Lim also highlighted Changi’s key role in speeding the airport’s return to operations and connecting Singapore with the rest of the world. In one of two terminals closed in the face of the pandemic, Terminal 4, Changi recently converted it to host a COVID-19 vaccination centre to support Singapore’s vaccination efforts. To date, over 22,000 members of the airport community, including over 80% of frontline staff from the airport’s shops and restaurants, have received their first dose of the vaccine. With an eye to recovery, Changi has also set up on-site facilities to support swabbing for COVID-19 testing for up to 10,000 passengers a day. Lim said that despite the pandemic challenges, “we at Changi have always understood our mission – to connect Singapore to the world and the world to Singapore”.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 293 | XX March 2021

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 www.moodiedavittreport.com and to subscribe, please e-mail sinead@moodiedavittreport.com

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