Understand traveller experience: states retail summit

With airports being built and expanded on at an unprecedented global scale, travel retail is booming—now one of the biggest challenges is about understanding the consumer.This was one of the main conclusions at the opening of Raven Fox’s
, Global Travel Retail Summit in London, which was made up of worldwide executives from the trade.

“There is less brand loyalty out there…and too much of the same brands and concepts. We have to move away from this…what else can we create?” says Jean-Paul Bonnel, CEO Europe of the Nuance Group.

“The biggest challenge is to know our customers…we have to know how to motivate them in the travel retail space.” 

This point was reiterated by Peter Poungias, commercial director at airport investment firm Hochtief: “There is a lot of customer data out there that can be analysed, more so than the high street….and the commercial potential is there at airports.”

Currently the travel retail sector is seeing both a recovery in the luxury goods sector and forecasting a strong expansion in fashion sales over the next few years.


It helps that more retail locations are coming online, with the construction of Heathrow’s terminal 5, openings in India and China and other global airport expansions.

This will allow many brands to show their wares to full effect. In recent times many have complained that airport space constraints are cramping their style and not allowing them to show their portfolios properly.

Yet Bonnel highlighted the fact that it is not just about space, but the need for firms to take retailtainment—retail and entertainment—seriously and “create events beyond Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day.”

“What else can you bring to the customer? Spas, coffee places, art - retailtainment gives you a new dimension to selling…it is about making retail easy, interesting, sexy and accessible” he explained. 

Retail presentation is also improving with luxury brands leading the way. And more brands are also moving from downtown duty-free stores to airports including Chanel, Prada and MaxMara, but there is still room for improvement. 

“People do not shop because they want to buy something, they shop because they want an experience, we must transform retail into an experience,” says Mark Knight, regional director for British Airport Authorities (BAA) USA.

“We also have to grab back the dwell time taken up by security in U.S. airports [since]... commercial revenues are now becoming more important to them.”