The ACI Airport Commercial & Retail Conference in Tel Aviv is a major event in the aviation industry, bringing together airports, travel retail operators and brands. The ACI created a high-profile panel that focused on whether airport retail outlets are shops or showrooms for the brands: “Are you being used? Are airport stores shops? Or just showrooms for brands?”
Erik Juul-Mortensen, Global Commercial Director at DUFRY, opened the discussion, speaking about the importance of airport retail and innovative activations to encourage trial and purchase. Juul-Mortensen said he could imagine further financial pressure might cause some brands to exit the GTR channel and refocus the funds on the domestic market, where margins are more favorable. He also outlined many attractions of travel retail for brands.
Another bold statement by Juul-Mortensen: “Brands are among the best at adapting to using digital as a way to recruit new shoppers!”
Featured next on stage was Nigel Keal, Global Commercial Director at DUFRY, outlining that “Brands are tough, they have their own agenda. There is a need of collaboration between all three parties”, airports, travel retail and airports.
Travel retail is too expensive to draw in new brands, Keal argues. Talking to the ACI delegates, he said: “I believe that we are currently stopping the niche brands and the new trendy brands coming into this environment.”
Third expert on stage was Chris Annetts, Retail & Service Proposition Director at Heathrow Airport. Annetts started by discussing his history working for a retailer before his job at Heathrow, arguing: “They were absolutely shops and, fundamentally, I don’t think things have changed.” Annetts pointed out the digitalization process that is already disrupting airports and travel retail: “Digital disruption is everywhere, coming at every angle of airport retail.”
Annetts talked about the challenges of digitalization for airports and travel retail: “We recognise the world is changing. Digital disruption is everywhere. Amazon in particular is changing the game. That’s a difficult model to overcome.”
As Nigel Keal pointed out earlier, Annetts agreed on the importance of collaboration of brands, retailers and airports: “We talk a lot about the experiential airport and how we can deliver the seamless, frictionless airport. Airports exist to get passengers onto a big lump of metal and to somewhere else.”
Annetts also mentioned that airport product ranges are quite good, but that there is a lack of communicating that to the passengers: “You can buy pretty much anything in an airport these days. What we’ve been pretty rubbish at is telling people about it.”
Last on stage was Kian Gould, CEO and founder of Tech Company AOE. His introductory statement: “It is not so crisp, clear where branding starts today.”
Kian Gould spoke about disruption and unobtrusive E-Commerce boosting brands, retail and airport revenue: “The era when airports could rely on passengers’ impulse-buying at the airport is over.”
Gould named “webrooming” as the best answer. “Young shoppers in particular say that the ideal setup is an online shop with a physical store where they can pick up or return an item.”
“Omnichannel E-Commerce is the ideal hybrid, taking the best of both worlds, online and offline. An online shop combined with a physical store is the ideal combination, as ‘webrooming’ has become more frequent than showrooming. 73% of lower tier millenials agree with that,” said Gould.
In the discussion of the travel retailer’s challenge, Nigel Keal mentioned: “Retailers need to balance the demands of brands and airports. Once we had a business based on price, a captive audience and limited competition. Things no longer apply the way they once did.”
The panel discussion provided a lot of insights, illustrating a major point: The digital disruption has already begun, and airports, brands and travel retail have to react to that to survive – the best way is to collaborate and create win-win digital business models.
From major FSCs to small LCCs, digitalization provides the most effective, low-cost path to new levels of operational efficiency and revenue recovery to all airlines. Kian Gould, Chairman of digital revenue innovators Omnevo, explains 5 reasons why. Let’s start on the bottom line: any airline – including everything from flagship FSCs to small regional LCCs – can now cost-effectively digitalize their attack on the recovering market and seize the digital route to recovery. Let me explain why.
Frankfurt, July 14th, 2021 - Omnevo, leading provider of revenue-increasing digital platform solutions for airports and airlines and part of the AOE Group, and Fraport AG, owner and operator of Germany's largest airport, announced today that Frankfurt Airport goes live with the latest advanced version of Omnevo's award-winning omnichannel e-commerce solution. Additionally, the two companies announced that they have extended their long-term partnership for another five years to further develop the digitalization of the airport's range of products and services for the almost 70 million passengers (before COVID-19) who travel through Frankfurt Airport each year. With go-live, the existing digital solution platform, which Omnevo’s parent company (AOE) had originally developed for Fraport, was migrated to the latest Omnevo product version. Through its original partnership with AOE Fraport utilized the OM³ digital platform (now known as Omnevo) to become the world’s first omnichannel airport focused entirely on omnichannel both before and, especially, during the pandemic. The newly enhanced Omnevo cloud solution enables the operation of a complete airport marketplace solution for all travel retail sales at a fraction of the costs previously required for such a leading ecosystem, creating new revenue opportunities for crisis-hit airports of any size. Thanks to the highly flexible SaaS solution, Fraport has also effectively future-proofed its digital strategy by integrating directly in the Omnevo product roadmap, enabling it to benefit from Omnevo’s strategy of continuous improvements to the solution.
The past year has been extraordinary in so many ways and, while the tragic impact on lives takes precedence, we’ve also had to deal with the huge changes in our working life too. As the crisis developed early last year, I was busy planning in my new role as CEO of Omnevo - AOE’s new specialist product division - positioned as a digital solution pioneer in the travel industry, launching in early 2021. As the crisis grew, this became the most challenging experience of my career, but I’ve been surprised to find that it’s also become one of the most instructive and rewarding experiences too. Creating and launching any new company is always a huge challenge but we suddenly faced extraordinary new barriers as the way we do business had to be transformed. Much of 2020 was spent planning the new company and today, still operates almost exclusively remotely. Many of us, including some of the founders, worked together for almost a year but have still not actually met in person! Yet we already operate successfully in a global network and are scaling and winning new business. Omnevo is a truly virtual organization; this is how we were born and that is how we thrive. In this short time, we’ve already made our mark on this industry, with a culturally diverse, agile and highly committed team working alongside customers of all sizes around the globe. We’re gaining a lot of attention because we are recognized as game changers - and that innovative spirit is integral to our team spirit. We are committed to being the digital challengers and innovators in the travel and mobility industry – an ethos drives us every day. And it’s working. But what is the glue behind this, what makes us successful? Why is it working and, in these bizarre working conditions, how did we manage to get the team so well and engage with our customers so quickly? I’m obviously proud of what we’ve achieved but I want to share my personal perspective on how we made this happen and hope that it will resonate with others in the industry - and, hopefully, help you with your management challenges too.