Heineken talks strategy for maximising onboard revenues in duty free

By Faye Bartle |

Niek Vonk, Manager Global Duty Free & Travel Retail, Heineken.

Niek Vonk, Manager Global Duty Free & Travel Retail, Heineken.

Heineken has offered an in-depth insight into its strategy for growing its global duty free business in the ferry, airline and cruise market.

“We are determined to do all we can to ensure our customers maximise the onboard commercial opportunities,” said Niek Vonk, Manager Global Duty Free & Travel Retail, Heineken.

“Global duty free is a unique and exciting channel for us to engage a huge range of consumers from across the globe with our brand portfolio and we are committed to developing our long-term partnerships in ferries, airlines and cruises.”

Having a deep understanding of challenges on the horizon is playing a key role in shaping Heineken’s activities.

“As the industry gears up to full capacity, there are still challenges to face, such as the worldwide supply-chain crisis, inflation and the war in Ukraine,” said Vonk.

“Strict health and safety protocols are the new norm, operators are focused on becoming more sustainable and on increasing onboard revenue at a time of rising costs and supply chain challenges.

“It is in these crucial contexts, that Heineken Global Duty Free is focused on making a big difference to our valued industry partners with our focus on several strategic areas, as part of our long-term commitment to the channel.”

To maximise sales potential, Heineken customises its portfolio for each of its partners, based upon passenger information, market analysis and consumer insights.

“For instance, we know in different regions, consumers are often looking for no/low-alcohol beers, trusted local brands or more premium, craft options,” explained Vonk.

The latest innovation in the portfolio, Heineken Silver (brewed to 4% ABV with a lighter drinking profile) is currently launching in European ferries and cruises.

“Whether it’s Heineken 0.0 for the non-alcoholic choice and mindful balanced drinking; Birra Moretti, sharing the true taste of Italy and perfect with food pairings; Lagunitas IPA for fans of US craft beers; or one of the many local favourites we own, such as Kalik from The Bahamas – we have the right beer for the right customer on the right ship or flight,” said Vonk.

Intensifying its commitment to sustainability

Heineken is also making waves with its ‘2030 Brew a Better World’ global sustainability and responsibility ambition. Part of this includes teaming up with selected partners to drive eco-friendly and social sustainability goals, and raise awareness of the responsible consumption of alcohol.

A key example is the initiative with KLM for 100% of the Heineken and Heineken 0.0 beer served onboard to be brewed with 100% green energy.

Over 2.4 million cans of Heineken and Heineken 0.0, brewed carbon neutral, have since been enjoyed on KLM flights, marking an important step in Heineken’s journey to becoming carbon-neutral in production by 2030.

Heineken Silver.

Heineken Silver is currently launching in European ferries and cruises.

“This initiative is part of a long-term strategic partnership between Heineken and KLM to enhance the in-flight experience,” said Alexander de Nerée Tot Babberich, Global Account Manager Airlines, Global Duty Free, Heineken.

“By using the power of wind turbines and solar panels, together with the biogas generated from wastewater treatment plants from two Heineken breweries, we were able to increase the amount of sustainable energy to at least equal to the energy required to brew and package Heineken beer in the Netherlands, where all Heineken beer for KLM is brewed.”

Within the ferry and cruise sector, Heineken Global Duty Free has introduced sustainable points of sale and merchandising for its customers.

Top swaps include utilising digital formats instead of printed materials where possible, and a prioritising the production of long-lasting POS and merchandising assets from sustainable and reused materials.

The company is also planning to recover and recycle used PET kegs from cruise customers and bring them back into the market, to help reduce waste.

“Heineken believes that achieving real and lasting change comes from partnering with others,” said Heineken Global Account Manager Cruiselines Christian Klimpke.

“We are now actively inviting our cruise line partners to join us on initiatives in raising the bar to progress faster towards a net-zero and fairer world.”

Providing extra motivation and sales support to partners 

To help its cruise line partners motivate their teams after, Heineken have given away a 20-litre Heineken Brewlock keg and a case of Heineken bottles to every bar onboard each ship its customers are operating. This is in addition to offering free samples to crew bars.

Examples of sales support onboard, include deploying mobile draught beer bars for busy outdoor pool areas.

Sampling plans for Heineken 0.0 include providing branded merchandising and t-shirts for staff.

The Heineken Star Serve programme, with interactive games designed to enhance product learning and develop hospitality skills along with the chance to win exciting prizes for hitting sales targets, provide extra motivation for crew members in training.


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