The New Travel Retail: Why training matters more than ever

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

By Marco Passoni

The travel retail sector has changed. In fact it still is changing, evolving every day as the needs and demographics of our shoppers continue to shift. While Chinese travellers are being slower to return, Indian and Vietnamese consumers are set to play a bigger role on the international stage, and as Gen Z and Millennials take over from older generations – with Gen Alpha not far behind – we are set to see more changes.

So how do we deal with this shift? How do we ensure that the bespoke offer which we all talk about so much is brought to life. The simple answer is people. But it is not a simple answer. Our people, especially in-store, are the front line for our business and ones who can make a real difference. Data has underlined the impact that shop staff have, and it has dispelled any lingering suggestions that shoppers would not interact with staff in the wake of the pandemic.

But just putting people on the floor is not enough. We need shop staff to be engaged, enthused and, above all, properly trained and supported.

Think about the last time you walked through an airport – did staff speak to you? Did they seem knowledgeable? Did their eagerness to help impact your decision-making. The answer to that last questions will be yes, whether you think about it or not. Some people leave a store dissatisfied if staff do not offer help, others will walk away from an over-familiar approach. The big thing is knowing the difference – and with the speed of shoppers’ changing demands, those differences count.

However, the pressure to deliver here is not on our teams, it is on those people sat in offices making the decisions. Enthusiasm and knowledge on the shop floor is delivered by staff, but it is cultivated and provided by training and support. Your front-line team need to know which shoppers they are speaking to, which products they are selling them and how to do so – from both a brand and consumer point of view. This is not something they can pull out of thin air – nor should they have to.

All training must be driven by data – analysis of shopper habits, footfall in stores and the barriers to purchase, both social and cultural, are all vital. Doing this properly requires that thing travel retail finds so hard to deliver: collaboration. Stores know their footfall, brands know their shoppers, put together this is information which can drive, inspire and support staff to deliver something truly amazing. But it requires actual work.

At 2.0 & Partners, this sort of training is a key part of our offer. Our CXM service comprises two parts, our Strategic Mystery Shopping and our Retail Academy 2.0, with the data from the former helping to shape the latter. So we see every day both the challenges staff face, and the benefits which can be delivered by getting training absolutely right. But is has to be right. With training, as with so much else, lip service and half measures will not do.

We are facing a new era for travel retail and it needs a new approach, one which is truly bespoke, data-driven, collaboratively crafted and fully supported to take the service and our industry to the next level. After all, is that not what we all want?

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.