Time to deliver on the Travel Retail Trinity

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By Marco Passoni

This week I am touching down in Hong Kong for what promises to be an excellent 2023 Trinity Forum from the Moodie Davitt Report and Hong Kong International Airport. The appeal of this event is clear: not only are airport revenues a vital part of all of our businesses, but delivering a true Trinity is how we can all create a vibrant and secure future for ourselves and our customers.

The Trinity is, if you will pardon me, the holy grail for travel retail – and delivering it properly should be at the centre of our partnerships and plans.

True collaboration is, clearly, a win-win situation for all those involved. The silos which have existed in travel retail were a barrier to growth before the pandemic and have slowed recovery since it. If we are all battling against each other for our piece of the pie, then not only can none of us win, but nor can our customers.

The Trinity is the holy grail for travel retail – and delivering it properly should be at the centre of our partnerships and plans

So why have we not made a true, cohesive Trinity a reality? Not for want of talking about it. Suggestions are constant in panels and keynote speeches, but action is not so forthcoming.

That is not to say no one is trying. Dufry – forgive me – Avolta is currently set to unveil the fruit of its partnership with Bangalore International Airport Ltd, Bangalore Duty Free. This is a great example of two companies working together to create something which is not just new, but tailored to the needs of its specific market. It is a similar model to that seen from Gerb Heinemann, or from the Extime Duty Free model in Paris. Joint ventures are an excellent way to share the risk and responsibility, which frees up both companies to be more creative, and not fall back on tried and tested methods. But, even more than that, shared ideas are a breeding ground for true innovation and creativity; for the breaking down of barriers and the delivery of something truly new and bespoke. Just look to the partnership which is the basis for Avolta: the union of Dufry and Autogrill will create a genuine fusion between retail and F&B – and that is exciting for shoppers and the travel retail industry.

All this potential excitement comes from a real and honest exchange of ideas. The combination of an airport’s local understanding with a retailer’s sales understanding allows the two together to craft a solution which fits that specific location. As ever, shared expertise is the key.

This is something we see every day at 2.0 & Partners. Our brand partners are experts in their story and delivering a unique experience, our team delivers the expertise in the complexities of the travel retail market. On the other hand, when working with airports, we leverage our understanding of the travelling shopper, their needs, and the potential benefits of specific brands, to complement the operator’s knowledge of their space, their targets and their local demographic.

As ever, shared expertise is the key

The question is, how do we leverage the expertise of all the players in the travel retail market? Brands, as I have said, understand delivering experience and storytelling better than anyone, while airlines have the latest data on the passengers coming through. Putting everyone together seems like a no-brainer.

It is tiring to repeat ourselves over and over again, but it is time we stopped talking about partnership and started delivering it. I am looking forward to this week’s discussions and insights; but I will follow every suggestion with a question: “Ok, but how? What are you doing?”

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.