‘Over to you series’: Sven Olschewski, Senior Market Strategy Manager, Braun

By Trb Editor |

Fresh from his first business trip in seven months, Sven Olschewski, Senior Market Strategy Manager, Braun had nothing but positive things to say about the whole airport travel experience in Brazil, where he spent 10 days.

When travelling from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, Olschewski noticed the domestic terminal was full of life. This suggests Brazilians are keen to travel within their own country and less so internationally.

Now safely back on German soil, he can look back on a trip which clearly surprised him for all the right reasons.

As the only international arriving passenger to São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport at 6am on Tuesday 3 November, my immigration process was particularly fast.

In the days that followed, I discovered that speedy processes and great organisation is now defining travel in Brazil. Both elements have certainly been rare during the four years I have represented Braun across the Americas.

BRAND EXITS

The purpose of the trip was to evaluate Braun and Oral B’s duty free business. As with all brands in Brazilian travel retail, sales usually depend on international arrivals.

With Brazil’s protective import tariffs making local, nationalised products extremely expensive many brands have exited the market. Be it Nintendo or Lush, the list is long and spans all categories.

Arriving passengers, therefore, typically stock up on international brands when in São Paulo. But on this occasion, the arrivals store was empty, much like the TAP Airbus A330 arriving from Lisbon. Only a few shoppers could be seen browsing for electronics and special offers for confectionery.

Moving forward, I am curious about how the situation at airports and overall business trends will develop.

A Dufry duty paid store at São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport on the morning of 3 November 2020.

On heading off to catch my next flight to Rio, I did not expect the domestic airport zones at São Paulo Guarulhos to look particularly different from the eerily empty international terminal. This, however, was not the case.

The domestic terminal was buzzing with life, along with the GOL Boeing 787 connecting the two megacities.

Prior to boarding, I picked up a book from the Leitura store, where a line of six shoppers were waiting at the shielded cashier desk. There were more customers in this small domestic shop than I saw in the whole major international Dufry departures store. The difference was remarkable.

The number of international flights to and from Brazil has dropped 93% compared to before the pandemic.

Flight schedules looked different too. While there were only 15 international departures from São Paulo the whole day, there were 16 domestic connections for midday alone. All of them were on time as well.

It was not only the punctuality of the flights which were on point, but the safety measures across all touch-points — from the distanced plastic shields at check-in, to the temperature scanners after security and organised boarding in small groups. Face-masks, hygiene gels and gloves were also available.

A SAFE JOURNEY

I actually felt safe for the entire journey and after 10 days in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro I tested negative for Covid-19.

With more than 8% of GDP in Brazil (pre-crisis) depending on tourism and the number of international flights to and from Brazil decreasing 93% from before the pandemic, (Source: Statista), Brazilians are clearly keen to travel within their own country.

National carriers GOL and Azul are aiming for 80% capacity in December (Source: CAPA Centre for Aviation). This objective is certainly realistic given the lively airports across the country.

An empty Dufry departures store at São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport.

Finally, my trip took me outside the airport environment to the São Paulo business centre where I was again surprised. Not only was it mandatory to wear a face-mask, but the sense of solidarity in the streets was strong and inspiring.

The same can be said of the meetings in the city. All business partners agreed to meet in person and everyone kept their distance and wore masks at all times.

Meetings were not only made possible by the people in the business, but also by our people at the airports, who made me feel safe and healthy throughout the trip and even beyond.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of 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].

Asad Jumabhoy, Chief Executive Officer, UTU

Jason Miles, Managing Director, Blackjack Promotions

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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