‘Over to you’: Leanne Nutter, Brand and Retail Director, Blackjack Promotions

By Trb Editor |

Leanne Nutter, Brand and Retail Director, Blackjack Promotions: “People are the asset that enables brands to become human.”

In the latest ‘Over to you’ guest column, Leanne Nutter, Brand and Retail Director at travel retail, experiential and staffing specialist Blackjack Promotions, reveals findings from a recent in-house consumer research study.

The results, she argues, demonstrate that human connection on the shop floor has never been more critical to travel retail’s recovery from Covid-19.

The global pandemic has forced us to go without many things over the past 18 months; travel abroad, bricks and mortar retail experiences, events and many other leisure activities have had to be delivered under restrictions or, at times, not at all.

It has meant that the age-old saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ has never been truer of everyday life in Covid times. However, as we look to increased freedoms, new research that we conducted with more than 1,000 consumers has brought the importance of human connection in everyday experiences to the fore.


It revealed that the experience of the pandemic has compelled almost two thirds of consumers to appreciate how important human connection is now, when shopping and enjoying leisure facilities. As we begin to see the return of normality with restrictions gradually lifting, this makes our return to the stage even more exciting.

As the UK’s leading travel retail and brand experience specialist, we know that people make a difference. People are the asset that enables brands to become human. For more than 25 years we have been collaborating with brands, venues, and events, creating chemistry with our pool of talented people, that connects with our clients’ customers, shoppers, and visitors.

Brands are adapting their post-pandemic operations and beginning to reinvest in marketing activities.

As we enter a period of recovery, we have launched a new brand positioning that is built on six people values and behaviours, emphasising the importance of teamwork, always listening, always working with a smile and a passion to getting stuck in. Coupled with the research that we’ve undertaken, we are confident that now, more than ever, adopting a strategic focus on people will offer us a pathway to a successful recovery.

It was moving to learn that more than a third of people have missed human contact when visiting hospitality and retail destinations, highlighting just how important our role is in not just elevating consumer experience, but in some cases, making someone’s day.

A quarter of consumers spoken to for the research, which was conducted among more than 1,000 consumers, revealed they would miss being handed samples should restrictions remain in place when they next visited an airport.

This need for human connection also applies to travel retail. A quarter of the consumers we spoke to said they will miss being given samples if restrictions are still in place when they next visit an airport.

While the need for some safety measures remain in place, we are eager to start planning activations once again. Over the past couple of months, we have seen brands adapt to post-pandemic operations and start to reinvest in their marketing.

From creating a wild adventure for Hendrick’s in London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 to a tennis-themed interactive activation, brands are ready to involve their audience and the feeling is mutual.

Our pool of talented people, who have returned to the shopfloor, have seen that customers are looking to engage with staff in a Covid-safe way with many requesting to sample products across all categories.

The research that we’ve undertaken will strengthen the case to get back out there. Consumers are ready and that is a hugely positive step in the recovery.

We know that the future of retail, both in and out of the airport, is likely to be somewhat different in the aftermath of Covid-19, but now more than ever, we appreciate the power that people have in making it an exciting experience again.

From outdoor events to personal customer experiences, the people that greet you are crucial. A smile, a moment of genuine care, whatever it is, human connections really mean something now.

We cannot wait to be that face you see as you walk through the airport terminal, event space or shopping centre. See you soon.

The views and opinions expressed here are the columnist’s and do not necessarily reflect those of TRBusiness.

To read other columns in the series, click the relevant links below.

Interested in getting involved? Please contact one of the editorial team at the following: [email protected]; [email protected]

Martin James, Founder, Martin James London

Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys

Kate Holsgrove, Chief Commercial Officer, Perth Airport

Leanne Nutter, Head of Travel Retail, Blackjack Promotions

Diego Baeza, Global Travel Retail & Duty Free Director, Viña Concha y Toro 

Richard Gray, Chief Executive Officer, Aer Rianta International Middle East 

Olivier Dancette Founder, HiDutyFree

Dr Patrick Bohl, Chairman, CEETRA

Laurent Safar, CEO, Adaptive Channel 

Tim Jobber, International Management Consultant, JES Travel Retail

John Pearce, Head of Retail & Commercial — Terminal, Adelaide Airport Limited

Alain Maingreaud, President, TFWA Part Two

Andrew Brodie, CEO, Sunshine Coast Airport

Trevor Lee, Managing Director, TravConsult

James Prescott, Managing Director, Harding Retail

Tullia Ialongo, Business Development Partner, Wand Technology

One Red Kite Limited, Founder and Managing Director Kevin Brocklebank

Alain Maingreaud, President, TFWA Part One

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