7 New Year’s Resolutions for the travel retail market

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By Marco Passoni

As much of the world heads into the holiday season, all of our thoughts must turn to the year ahead. If 2022 has been the year we laid the foundations of our new normal, 2023 is the year we must build it.

Here are my resolutions for our market over the next 12 months.

Create new spaces

Next year we have to truly think outside the box – literally. The way we use space in the airport sector must be in step with the needs of the modern shopper; they want flexibility and a personal experience. That cannot be done in simple stores and multi-brand experiences – we need spaces which let the brands breathe and bring their story to life.

We must also be brave enough to try new brands; even if they do not guarantee the sales immediately, they are an investment in the future. Temporary spaces are perfect for this. Every piece of space has potential and we must talk as collaborators and partners about how we can make the most of them. The old rules no longer apply.

Stop saying ‘2030’ or ‘2050’

Sustainability is something we must do now. So many plans we hear about lay out big goals for the next 10 or 20 years, but say nothing about today. The work needed to begin yesterday. It must be underway. Long-term planning is vital, but if you cannot show what we are doing now, then we are not doing enough.

Forge closer bonds

Shoppers’ relationships with brands have changed completely in our new normal. They are no longer transactional. Now they want communities to be part of. They want to reach out and not just interact with brands but be heard too. This is part of the ‘zero added value’ which brands can provide by making shoppers feel part of something bigger that they want to take with them.

20% counts. We have to bank on it

Travel retail must come to terms with its link to price. The 20% advantage is what set us apart. It is what customers expect – and the customer is always right. If we are not planning with the price advantage front of mind, then we are not making the most of our opportunities.

Say no to the Master Concession

I have one big wish for 2023: Please can this be the year that we say goodbye to the Master Concession model at major airports. Agreements made this year will shape the travel retail market for decades to come. The Master Concession does not fit the needs of the modern shopper at huge hubs, and it will only be more out of touch in years to come. This model will always have a place at smaller airports to create a cohesive and sustainble business, but new ideas are needed at big gateways.

Pick better partners

Collaboration is going to be the key to the future. Now we must pick partners that believe in the same as we do and can work with us in true partnership to create something unique. These collaborations should bring together partners who can create something not found in any other market. The recent Louis Vuitton and and Lego partnership is a great example of bringing together conepts with no natural link to creae something standout. Travel retail is a unique ecosystem – let’s make the most of that.

Act. Don’t talk

The need for action is at the heart of much of what the industry must upgrade in 2023. Sustainability and equality efforts must be more about doing than promising. The same goes for those speaking at industry events. We need actionable insights, not verbal press releases. Every moment counts.

I truly believe that 2023 can be a landmark year for luxury travel retail, here is hoping we can work together to build the future we want in a more united and sustainable way.

Marco Passoni has decades of experience in the travel retail sector. He has spent the majority of his career in senior leader positions throughout the market, including a 12-year tenure as CEO of a leading international Duty Free distribution company and a further 8 years running a retail firm that operated fashion mono-brand stores in several international airports.
Today, as Senior Executive VP and founding partner of 2.0 & Partners, he leads the company’s efforts in developing and innovating services which create new opportunities and partnerships for all members of the travel retail Trinity. A former elite-level sailor, with a World Championship to his name, Marco now spends much of his time airside, experiencing the changing travel retail industry first-hand, to better guide partners and clients on the best way to do business in this vibrant and unique market.