Christine Martin & Vimal Rai champion ‘Blueprint for a new TR ecosystem’

By Charlotte Turner |

Christine Martin and Vimal Rai leadInflight industry veterans, Christine Martin of Ethos Farm and Vimal Rai of TRACE consulting are urging the travel retail industry to adopt a ‘Blueprint for a new travel retail ecosystem’, which will involve a strategic digital transformation.


Since March, Martin – Business Development Director, Ethos Farm – and Rai, Founder and Managing Director of TRACE Consulting, have been jointly hosting a weekly webinar.


Growing from 25 attendees in the first week to 125 for the most recent, the original aim of the webinars was to make inflight retail fit for purpose for all stakeholders sustainably, so that it did not fall into the ‘too difficult’ corner and become extinct.


“As a result of the extreme lockdowns and isolation caused by Covid-19, digital adoption has significantly accelerated across all segments and age groups and customer behaviours are unlikely to revert completely to the analogue days of yore,” said Martin and Rai of the new Blueprint.



Christine Martin, Business Development Director, Ethos Farm.


“Clearly, a strong opportunity exists for stronger collaboration, at least but not only, for the marketing of a stronger travel retail value proposition to travellers at the right time and with the right offer. This can only happen with stronger collaboration across all stakeholders in the travel retail ecosystem.”


The pair are calling for the industry to collectively ‘own’ the traveller journey and acknowledge that the power of choice (to browse, to shop and to buy – or not) resides with each traveller.


Martin and Rai say that the proposed collaboration between traffic sources (travel agents, cruises, airlines, etc.) product suppliers (brands, distributors, agents, etc.), infrastructure and technology providers (airports, terminals, digital platform enablers, etc) and last-mile fulfilment solutions (shipping and delivery companies, forwarders, etc.) can take many different forms.


“Whatever form that is adapted to local conditions is irrelevant; the fact is that collaboration is key,” said Martin. “This collaboration will need to leverage digital solutions and data. It is also critical if we are to modernise travel retail for the benefit of our customers.”



“Concerted, collaborative action is needed to grow the travel retail pie sustainably and profitably for all, with every stakeholder playing their responsible part within the ecosystem,” added Rai.


It is only then that the industry can truly focus on travellers’ needs and wants and align people, processes, systems and marketing resources accordingly, the pair insist.


Vimal Rai took part in TRBusiness’ Adapt & Survive series earlier this month. An interview with Christine Martin will follow on the website soon…



They say that the travel retail proposition to travellers needs to be clear, connected, relevant, convenient and valuable.


Rai and Martin encourage every stakeholder (including trade associations) from end to end of the traveller journey to ‘commit to and unite behind this positive narrative’.


“More than simply a ‘narrative’, this deliberate and diligent action on a collaborative digital transformation of the industry needs to be undertaken,” they said.


Airports, retailers, airlines, cruise companies, distributors, brands and suppliers need to improve their digital quotient in order to successfully deal with the twin challenges of increasing awareness and effectiveness of the travel retail value proposition and of driving travellers to transactions. This would make the sum of parts greater than the whole, for every traveller.”


More information on ‘Blueprint for a new Travel Retail Ecosystem’ can be obtained from Christine Martin. [email protected] or Vimal Rai. vimal@trace-


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