The Personal Touch: Making people count in Cannes

The TFWA World Exhibition is upon us once more and in three weeks, the travel retail industry will once again take over Cannes for our biggest event of the year. I first attended Cannes in 1993 and both the industry and the show have changed a huge amount since then. In fact, due to Covid and a sense of fatigue over a few years, I have not been to Cannes for a few years, but this year I am delighted to be returning with both renewed enthusiasm and my partners and colleagues, excited to unveil some new brands and concepts for the market.

For all of us who attend, there is one thing that makes Cannes so valuable, and it is the same thing that makes travel retail so special – the people.

Whether it is our in-store staff, the varied global shoppers they serve, or the partnerships and working relationships which make the business tick behind the scenes, people are at the very heart of what we do. As digital and the birth of Web3 begin to change our daily lives – as they should and must – it becomes more important than ever to remind ourselves of the importance of the human connection and what it provides for travel retail.

I, and many others, have spoken a lot about the value of people and human engagement in stores for travel retail. Data from ACI shows us that a 1% increase in shopper satisfaction leads to a 1.5% increase in sales. And our shoppers are looking for this interaction. Despite the foolish claims of some during the pandemic – all of whom seem to have gone very quiet on this front – travelling shoppers want personal, human interaction. They can research and buy products online. In store, they want an experience. And it is good to see that we are giving them that.

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But Cannes and the TFWA World Exhibition are not just about the shoppers and the personal service we can provide. This event is about the people who work in travel retail and the importance of the connections which can make this market the most exciting on the planet.

There is no substitution for a face-to-face meeting as a chance to share ideas and create new ones. The travel retail sector is filled with innovative and exciting brands and companies, but creating real differentiation and newness requires putting different ideas together to make something fresh.

Faced with the challenge from digital retail and the growing experiential offer on the domestic market, travel retail must begin to take advantage of the varied companies and brand which operate in the marketplace. There are partnerships which can be created in this space which cannot be found anywhere else, but they can only be built by people coming together to share ideas and concepts.

This year, more than ever, the travel retail sector must make the most of Cannes to leverage this unique and privileged position to create newness. Too often, the agenda in Cannes is simply touching base with those you already know and work with. This year, let’s try something new. Engage new companies and potential partners. If travel retail is to break down its silos and barriers, then we have to do the same.

This year in Cannes, shake the hand of someone you do not know, and don’t just ask what they can do for you – ask what you can create together.

The 2.0 & Partners team will be in Cannes, and we would be very happy to discuss how we can work with you and your business to take your travel retail offer to the next level. Email to book a meeting.