Excellent Execution: Travel retail puts on a show for Easter break

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It was reassuring to see one thing as I walked through an airport last week: Travel is recovering. The traditional idea of spring as a season of regeneration is in full flow in the travel sector as we see ‘Revenge Travel’ in full effect.

This revenge travel is caused by people who have been cooped up for two years and now want to spend savings and go on journeys. It will lead to something that the travel retail sector very much needs and that is Revenge Shopping. People who want to travel will be willing to spend. But the question is: Will travel retail be ready for them?

The fact that people are willing to spend does not mean that they are being inspired to.

So, it is encouraging to see, as we reach the first of the year’s big travel moments, that travel retail and its stakeholders are stepping up to the plate for the Easter break.

It must be experiential; it must be accessible and – above all – it must be exciting and unique.

Brands are leading the way with number of exciting and new releases which can inspire shoppers; Walkers Shortbread’s plans to expand in the market and the release of the Bowmore PX 22 Year Old all show that brands recognise the opportunity here. Even more, it was pleasing to see make-up brand Iconic London put its focus on the United States, which is leading the way for travel retail recovery.

However, the brands which stand apart are those which offer something unique for shoppers. The Rituals Spring Collection, for example, is tailored to the emotion and environment of the moment and will speak to shoppers both in-store and online. Furthermore, the recent Minecraft X Lacoste collaboration is a masterclass in breaking boundaries to create an online and offline experience with a pop-up at the Mova Mall in Haikou.

20partners Origins-at-Haikou Excellent Execution: Travel retail puts on a show for Easter break Journal

This reflects a wider need in the market – and one which there is some evidence of already. New products need to be brought to life in the physical environment, and a few brands are really beginning to step up their experiential offer. The L’Oréal partnership with Dubai Duty Free is a great example of offering personalisation and experience in a pop-up which creates a seamless link between online and offline. Similar examples of excellence could be seen from Pernod Ricard with their City Exclusives pop-up at Changi and the immersive and interactive Origins experience with CDFG in Haikou.

It is worth noting that more of these activations are shifting back to an airport setting as travel re-opens. This is a sign that both brands and retailers recognise the vital role air travel will play in both the rebuilding and the future of travel retail. We must all endeavour to make airports a more interesting and experiential place. As this season of rebirth brings a revival of travel, so too it should bring about a rebirth in how we present travel retail to our shoppers.

It must be experiential; it must be accessible and – above all – it must be exciting and unique.

Mondelez has relaunched its Cadbury’s football activation at Stansted this season and it captures perfectly what I mean. This is destination retail. It is a site which offers great engagement and excitement for shoppers and puts the focus on more than just transaction and spend.

Bringing shopping to life for shoppers is the future of our market and as travel begins to peek its head out once more, it seems that some in our industry are catching on and leading the way. Now everyone else must follow.