TR Consumer Forum: ARI, Heathrow and MAG deliver stirring keynote

By Charlotte Turner and Luke Barras-hill |

Travel Retail Consumer Forum delegates were treated to data-rich presentations, exclusive consumer insights and stimulating discussion on day one of the industry’s first major in-person conference and event.

As reported, the Travel Retail Consumer Forum took place on 20-22 September at the prestigious Hilton London Paddington hotel. 

Reacting to the desperate need for data and insight on the rapidly changing travel and purchasing behaviours of consumers during a global pandemic, TRBusiness and Swiss research agency m1nd-set launched the TR Consumer Forum earlier this year.

All TR Consumer Forum sessions are available to watch post-event on the dedicated delegate platform.

[Register here to gain access to all recordings of the conference sessions].

The strong roster of speakers stepping up to the plate on day one did not disappoint, as the industry met for the first time in nearly two years at a physical event to ‘reimagine the future of travel retail’.

The keynote session featured presentations from a panel of influential airport and travel retail executives comprising Heathrow Airport’s Retail & Property Director Fraser Brown; Manchester Airport Group’s (MAG) Head of Retail Ben Green; Aer Rianta International CEO Ray Hernan, as well as m1nd-set CEO Peter Mohn.

Heathrow Airport’s Retail & Property Director Fraser Brown delivered an inspired address in the welcome and opening keynote: ‘A World of Pure Re-imagination.’

ETAIL & RETAIL REVISITED

The session opened with an introduction and overarching perspective on the consumer trends in the post-Covid travel retail environment from event co-organisers m1nd-set and TRBusiness.

Brown, Green and Hernan each offered an address of how their businesses are reconsidering their approach to the consumer as well as any adaptations to the way they do business.

This was followed by a fascinating Q&A expertly moderated by TRBusiness Managing Editor Luke Barras-Hill.

The next session, ‘Etail & Retail Revisited: Touch Points & E-commerce in Travel Retail’ uncovered new trends linked to the adoption of new technology, uptake figures, the use of digital initiatives, interest in online platforms and exposure to touch points (online in particular).

The panel comprised of Jonathan Chippindale, Co-Founder and Chief Executive officer, Holition; Evelina Hederer, Director Business Development, Expedia Group Media Solutions; Anthony Kenny, CCO & Deputy CEO, ARI; Noel Philips, vlogger, aviation expert and media commentator, as well as Anna Marchesini, Head of Business Development for m1nd-set.

Anna Marchesini, Head of Business Development for m1nd-set, revealed exclusive data on these new trends and explained how this differed across different regions and other segments.

Among the raft of special insights, delivered on a one-off basis to physical and livestream event attendees, the category continues to experience a very high share of duty free shoppers (84%) out of total duty free visitors but planned their purchases to some extent.

The same data revealed a healthier conversion picture (56%) compared with 2020 out of total duty free visitors, although footfall was down (39%) versus 2020.

On pre-order, Marchesini added: “The trend is clear – there is a clear intent after the pandemic. It is not just a platform to sell, but to communicate.”

“Providing value has remained the first driver to purchase in duty free,” commented Marchesini.

Ray Hernan, CEO, Aer Rianta International.

ARI, HOLITION AND EXPEDIA

Kenny shared the latest developments on the retailer’s consumer facing investments in its e-commerce activities, while Holition provided an eye-opening perspective into the latest technological advancements in retail technology with augmented and virtual reality, among other technologies.

Chippindale also revealed how the Holition digital studio is integrating an increasingly wide range of technologies for partner brands to enhance the customer experience.

He explained that brands are re-creating the physicality of the retail space in the so-called ‘metaverse’.

Elaborating, Chippindale said brands are using every method at their disposal to communicate with consumers.

Retail though, it was claimed, is only utilising 15% of the available tools at its disposal.

Chippindale questioned how to demystify some of those concepts in store.

Travel booking giant Expedia’s Business Development Director Evelina Hederer shared proprietary insights into the latest trends in traveller behaviour across the group’s respective travel brands.

She also shared Expedia’s sentiment research examining the impact of the pandemic on traveller behaviour and how Covid-19 will continue to influence travellers.

Hederer discussed how brands and retailers can engage with the travelling consumer through targeted messaging across Expedia’s global network of travel brands.

LIVE POLLS WITH ‘CONSUMER-IN-RESIDENCE’

As announced, the acclaimed blogger/vlogger Philips acted as the ‘consumer-in-residence’ during this and several other sessions during the conference, providing invaluable up-to-the-minute consumer feedback on each session’s specific topics through live polls.

The session, ‘New Influences: In-store shopping drivers & behaviour and design’ followed an extended networking lunch, featuring the following speakers: Alan Brennan, PanzerGlass, Global Director New Channels; Richard Gray, CEO ARI Middle East; Leanne Nutter, Brand and Retail Director, Blackjack Promotions; Noel Philips; Johan Schölvinck, Founder and Managing Director, Market Square Consult; as well as Clara Susset, m1nd-set COO.

As announced, the acclaimed blogger/vlogger Philips, acted as the 'consumer in residence' during this and several other sessions during the conference, providing invaluable up-to-the-minute consumer feedback on each session's specific topics through live polls.

The acclaimed travel blogger/vlogger and aviation reporter Noel Philips acted as TR Consumer Forum’s ‘consumer-in-residence’, providing invaluable consumer feedback via social media live polls in selected conference sessions.

Focusing on in-store shopping cues, customer behaviour and design, the panelists discussed how footfall and conversion rates have drastically changed and talked about the shift in importance of traditional key drivers to purchase.

They also shared how brands and retailers can engage with shoppers differently in the post-Covid context to boost conversion, showcasing examples of some companies are approaching the consumer differently to take into account the ‘modern-day’ concerns post-Covid.

Schölvinck, Managing Director of Market Square Consult, challenged the traditional methods for enticing the consumer to shop, wine or dine in the airport in the Covid-era and examined whether these methods still apply in today’s travel context.

BOOMING BEAUTY AND A SPIRITED RECOVERY

The ‘Booming Beauty’ session drew upon some of the latest initiatives undertaken to woo the post-pandemic beauty buyer with insights and ideas proposed by Morgan Holt, Global Executive Experience (CX) Director at creative agency Landor & Fitch; Karine Fleury, Director at Flores Brand Works; Sue Gosling, Marketing Director at Harding; and Guido Bonadonna, CEO at GFL Skincare.

During ‘A Spirited Recovery: Cross Category Covid Recovery Review’, the final session of the day, m1nd-set presented a cross category overview of how the core categories of alcohol, tobacco and confectionery are performing following the reopening of international travel.

Attendees were treated to TRBusiness’ customary dose of live entertainment following the conclusion of the 2021 Global Travel Retail Awards on Tuesday 

As part of this category analysis, IWSR joined m1nd-set to present an in-depth review of ‘1nSpirit’,  a marketing intelligence platform for the wine and spirits travel retail sector.

The 1nSpirit platform, which was launched in 2020 and updated twice a year, was established to help industry leaders quantify and navigate the travel retail sector, giving them access to robust consumption data, forecast analysis and consumer behavioural insights.

1nSpirit enables industry leaders to re-assess and refine their business strategy for the travel retail wines and spirits sector in a post-Covid world; understand new consumer purchasing drivers by category, sub-category and price point; anticipate market trends during the post-Covid-19 recovery period and beyond; and access data & insights through a single, intuitive, and interactive online platform.

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