‘Over to you’: Tullia Ialongo, Business Development Partner, Wand Technology

By Trb Editor |

Over to You guest columns logo leadIn the latest of a new guest columnist series for TRBusiness.com, Wand Technology, Business Development Partner, Tullia Ialongo, says retailers, airports and airlines must be ready to offer innovative shopping experiences once travel restrictions are lifted after the Covid-19 crisis. 

Having spent more than 20 years of my professional life in the airline industry working for Alitalia, initially in customer facing roles and then customer experience (managing inflight entertainment and connectivity and inflight sales), I can certainly say that ‘Airline DNA’ is embedded within me.

Like many of you, I am living with intense concern amid to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The complexity of the aviation industry means it has more uncontrollable elements than most sectors. Anyone in the industry long enough, will have certainly developed strong resilience, but unfortunately, this has barely equipped us for the challenges we are facing.

Some players may not emerge at the end of it all, while those that do, will have to formulate new strategies, cut all unneeded costs and offer a truly innovative service. If airlines are forced to increase their ancillary revenues, travel retailers and airports will need to be proactive and look for new ways to sell.

‘MOST GLOBAL EXPERIENCE EVER’

The Covid-19 pandemic is the most global experience ever. It has forced companies and their staff to work, socialise and shop digitally from home. This fear of infection and social distancing is likely to remain for several months and impact all aspects of life.

Tullia Ialongo Wand Technology

“There is no coming back from this digital leap we have all made.” Tullia Ialongo, Business Development Partner, Wand Technology.

There is no coming back from this digital leap we have all made. Retailers, airports and airlines must take advantage of this period and be ready to offer an innovative and compelling shopping experience when we are all able to travel again.

Moving forward, business models must encourage collaboration between airlines, which generate passenger traffic and retailers and airports which need this traffic.

Currently, there is time and space for businesses to ensure they are ready to offer more distinctive shopping experiences. These can drive or be added to loyalty programmes, for example, or give passengers the opportunity to shop and collect at various points on their journey.

As many of you know, the classic image of duty free trolleys being pushed along aisles is becoming more and more unusual on board.

This is partly due to the limited choice compared with airport shopping malls and zero or low profit margin, taking into account the hassle and costs associated with logistics, weight, training and other elements.

Proof is in the fact many major carriers have stopped selling on board altogether. On those carriers which continue to offer inflight retail, cabin crew are expected to provide a personalised and dedicated service through a congested inflight schedule, to a demanding clientele for a meagre incentive.

GRASPING THE DIGITAL OPPORTUNITY

Why waste the time and effort of cabin crew, which are often demotivated to sell to passengers who are demotivated to buy?

This is where AirTraffix, a middleware platform aimed at increasing airline and merchant ancillary revenue profits comes in.

Developed by UK-based Wand Technology, creator of products and services for the travel industry, the no-cost, no-management, digital ancillary revenue tool manages the needs of key industry players and most importantly the passengers.

The digital solution includes duty free and duty paid and ranges from meals to lounges, to practically any airport service. Airlines and online travel agencies can use the tool to generate revenues from duty free, by establishing a win-win collaboration with travel retailers, which will benefit from increased traffic to their online stores.

Now is the perfect time for travel retailers, airports and airlines to re-think their business models and consider more advantageous solutions. Leveraging passenger interest in online shopping and offering them a tailored, contextualised shopping experience is one way of doing this.

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

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