Tasa Meng embarks on Taoyuan Airport T2 revamp

By Andrew Pentol |

Nancy-Ku,-Tasa-Meng,-Chairman

Nancy Ku, Tasa Meng Chairman.

Taiwanese travel retailer Tasa Meng Corporation has vowed to help make Taoyuan International a smart and convenient airport when renovating its Terminal 2 operations.

As reported, Tasa Meng, which runs duty free shops at Taoyuan and Kaohsiung International Airports, Matsu Airport and Matsu Fuao Harbour Ferry Terminal, secured a 12-year contract in 2018 (plus a three-year extension option) to continue its existing operations.

Tasa Meng, which was runner-up in the Terminal 2 tender behind Ever Rich Duty Free, elected to keep hold of its 34,000sq m North Wing Area D concession.

Ever Rich, which under the rules of the tender could opt to operate stores in just one of the two zones, decided to continue running its South Wing (Area C) concession.

INCREASED SPACE

Speaking exclusively to TRBusiness during a recent visit to Taiwan, Nancy Ku, Tasa Meng Chairman said: “As part of this new project we have more space to design and create certain elements.

“We want passengers to feel a sense of convenience and actually have fun when visiting the airport. Taoyuan International Airport may not be the largest, but we hope to create a smart airport in the future. That is our vision.”

Tasa Meng will begin renovating its duty free shops once Ever Rich has completed work on its own stores. The entire Terminal 2 renovation programme is expected to take around two years.

Tasa Meng map

A map of the retailer’s shops at Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 2.

The overall renovation programme will include several non-profit making passenger services as part of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) duty free operator licence model, a unique element of airport tenders in Taiwan.

Tasa Meng, which is, therefore, partly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of common facilities at the airport has several initiatives in mind as part of the revamp.

These include the implementation of a robot, which will walk around the terminal serving Taiwanese tea and an Impression of Taiwan interactive screen. The latter will allow passengers to learn more about Taiwanese landscape by touching different points on a big screen.

As part of the project, Tasa Meng will build, manage and clean the toilets which will each be named after a Taiwanese mountain.

Tasa-Meng-duty-free-shop

The current Tasa Meng liquor and tobacco shop in Terminal 2.

In addition, each of the 10 boarding gates in Zone D will have a different theme focusing on two elements — Impression of Taiwan and Smart and Innovation. Gate D4, for example, currently showcases Eastern Taiwan (Taroko National Park).

Renovations of each individual boarding gate area and various nearby gate shops has already begun and will continue in tandem with the main commercial revamp.

Gate-D4-Tasa-Meng

Each of the 10 boarding gates in Zone D will a have a different theme.

On the commercial front, the Tasa Meng beauty store will ultimately be 1.5-times bigger and latest technology will be implemented to make the ceiling resemble the sky. There will also be a strong emphasis on local brands across the entire Tasa Meng Terminal 2 retail offer.

Ku commented: “There are two main parts of our Taoyuan Airport operations. The first are the non-commercial public areas such as the boarding gates which we want to use to promote Taiwan and encourage tourists to return more often.

Tasa-Meng-local-flavour

Tasa Meng will places a strong emphasis on local brands and products to provide passengers with a taste of Taiwan.

“The second are the stores and as far as these are concerned, we want to improve our hardware and software and create smart shops.”

Reflecting on the current state of the Taiwanese duty free market and outlining her vision for the next few years at Taiwan Taoyuan, Ku said: “The problem has been the reduction of Customs duties in Taiwan. In the past, passengers could benefit more from purchasing duty free products.

“Now the benefit is not so clear, which is why we want to focus on the overall commercial experience.”

Ku, who highlights the strong potential of the Taiwanese DF&TR market added: “We not only want customers to buy something in our stores. We want them to develop a relationship with these outlets.”

As passenger numbers at Taoyuan Airport increase and plans for a new Terminal 3 gather place, Ku is excited about the future. She said: “The government is trying its best to promote Taiwan and bring more international business.”

Tasa-Meng-electronics-offer

The Tasa Meng electronics/sound and vision and book store.

EXPANSION PLAN

Tasa Meng has offered a range of merchandise to international travellers since 2000, but only runs Taiwanese outlets.

Pressed by TRBusiness on whether overseas expansion is an option Ku remarked: “Tasa Meng has been operating duty free stores in Taiwan for almost 20 years. We have great staff and offer an excellent service.

“In the past, we have looked at expanding our duty free business to other areas, starting with Asia, but nothing has materialised.”

Currently, the company has ‘many different ideas’ about possible expansion, including collaborations with local companies elsewhere. “This depends on the location. In some countries, we will be able to do business directly, but in others we won’t as we do not know the culture.

“Maybe in some instances it would be good to partner with other companies, but this depends on the project.”

Tasa-Meng-panoramic

The overall renovation programme includes several non-profit making passenger services as part of the Public Private Partnership duty free operator licence model in Taiwan.

Speaking of partnerships with overseas entities, Tasa Meng is exploring the possibility of a ‘friendly’ strategic business collaboration with DR Group at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

As reported, both parties begun discussing mutual points of cooperation on staff development, e-commerce and product sourcing last year.

“Duty free is an international business and not a local one. It is important for us to know the purchasing behaviour of the various nationalities, which is why we try to exchange data and knowledge with other companies,” Ku explained.

In 2017, Tasa Meng, which has 1,400 employees, launched a staff exchange programme with Kansai Airport Agency Co Ltd (KAA) to better understand the travelling Asian consumer.

Tasa-Meng-boarding-gate-shot

The renovation of the boarding gates in Zone D has started before the revamp of the main commercial operations.

Tasa Meng employees visited the airport to participate in a session curated and managed by KAA management to understand the buying and demand trends of Asian passengers, in particular the Japanese.

“Some people say the most beautiful thing in Taiwan is the people. Our staff are certainly the most important people in the company,” emphasised Ku.

Staff training has always been important for the retailer and will remain so in the future. “We have a significant budget for staff training and many staff who have worked for us for several years, perhaps since graduating from University.

“Our training not only focuses on product knowledge, but also on sales training and language skills. We are receiving more passengers from South East Asia so it is important our staff are able to engage in basic conversation with them.”

Nancy-and-Jennifer-Tasa-Meng

Jennifer Chen, General Manager Taoyuan branch, Tasa Meng Corporation (left) with Nancy Ku in the D4 boarding gate area.

TENSE RELATIONS

Over the years, relations between Taiwan and China have been tense to say the least. But the situation has not really had an impact on business, according to Ku. “Chinese visitors overall have not really fallen as a result.

“Group travellers may have decreased, but we still have many independent and business travellers from Mainland China. We have also extended our customer base with more passengers from South East Asia and countries such as Indonesia which is extremely important.”

In terms of external challenges, competition from international airports and retailers remains apparent. “Certain challenges give us the chance to improve our management and maybe our business.

“We are fully aware of our strengths and weakness and do not worry about challenges. We try to embrace them.”

Tasa Meng Charity

Corporate Social Responsibility and charitable initiatives such as the Veteran Affairs Council charity dinner it hosted last year, are important to the company. 

Another challenge is transferring the experience and expertise of existing sales staff to new members of the team “This is why training is so important. We want passengers to experience our Taiwanese-style passion and hospitality. This is so important for us.”

Meanwhile, Corporate Social Responsibility and charitable initiatives is also high on the company’s list of priorities. In addition to sponsoring educational and cultural activities, Tasa Meng operates the first charity store at Taoyuan International Airport.

“Charitable initiatives and Corporate Social Responsibility are very important for our company and management. We encourage all our staff to take part in these activities.”

She concluded: “We not only donate money but also have volunteers who attend various charity events.”

Stay close to TRBusiness for an extensive interview with Jennifer Chen, General Manager Taoyuan branch, Tasa Meng Corporation.

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