This was a tough one, as the two most obvious contenders are such disasters. Berlin Brandenburg is just so utterly bizarre. It’s impressive how this comedy of schoolboy building errors sumptuously combines with the operator’s audacious attempt to set a new benchmark for an airport non-opening.
But the winner, by a whisker, has to be:
ABU DHABI. This is principally because they made such a song and dance about their 7-7-17 opening and that this would show everyone how to build and plan an airport. And then the roof started to sink. Not only does Abu Dhabi win this 2018 title, they could potentially go on to claim the 2019 and even 2020 titles.
2. TRU AWARD FOR BEST DESIGNED BUT LEAST PASSENGER FRIENDLY AIRPORT
The winner here by a country mile is:
This is a superlative example of an architectural wet dream, according to one panellist. It works so much better in the imagination of the creators than for those in the building.
Another judge quipped: It’s like being given an Aston Martin, but when you climb inside, you realise that there is no engine, only pedals!
Other comments include: it is poorly served by costly public transport from London; the airport’s after-thought retail offer has had to be retro-fitted; and the amount of time it takes to get through the congested check-in/security process is far too long.
Forming part of the ‘Winners Circle’ are Frankfurt and Madrid Barajas T4. Frankfurt because of lengthy walks between terminals, ‘unfriendly’ security and overall colour of badly-lit grey. Madrid because it is an architectural extravaganza. Flamboyant as a matador and just about as practical for Travel Retail. Clearer signposting an urgent requirement.
Schiphol is another airport. In theory easy to navigate, but a nightmare to find gates and work out where each of the retail stores are located.
Finally, a special mention for Luton Airport. It looks and feels like it has been designed by a baby chimp, armed with a crayon and a severe hatred of people.
3. TRU AWARD FOR BEST TENDER RESULT
HEINEMANN winning the confectionery tender at HKIA last year allowed them to create 8 differently-themed stores which are genuinely innovative, utilising the likes of 3D candy printing, a selfie booth, personalised packaging and gaming areas to name but a few. Impressive. They have brought new energy and creativity to what should be a fun category in Travel Retail.
A strong contender was DUTY ZERO by CDF, also at HKIA. This retail joint venture between China Duty Free Group and Lagardere Travel Retail won the tender in 2017 but left the official opening of its 8 stores – mainly liquor and tobacco – until July this year. Will it succeed where DFS appeared to fail?
4. TRU AWARD FOR MOST LITIGIOUS TENDER RESULT
Inevitably the winner is the ongoing saga between DFS, LOTTE and GUAM AIRPORT. An irresistible and exotically choreographed
soap opera. Delivers both the rubber-necking fascination of watching a car crash in slow motion and the epic drama of a dynastic feud.
5. TRU AWARD FOR BEST AIRPORT DIGITILISATION
One overall winner here: AOE’s OM3 omni-channel platform for Auckland Airport, delivering a true, all encompassing marketplace in 2018
AOE also form part of the Winners Circle with their work on the pioneering Heathrow Boutique. This is a digital initiative that expertly treads the line between PR tickle and genuine innovation.
Others worthy of mention in this very important category are: COPENHAGEN’S great website, which offers great use of social and digital media, Facebook, marketing campaigns and mobile application.
SCHIPHOL’S trialling of a BitCoin ATM to see if there is a demand for the cryptocurrency among its passengers – how much more ahead of the digital curve can an airport get?
Finally, DÜSSELDORF Airport’s Ray the Robot parking. This brings a touch of sci-fi glamour to this mundane category. Nice one, Ray!
6. TRU AWARD FOR BEST SOCIAL MEDIA TRUST CAMPAIGN
The winner here is FACEBOOK’S extraordinary TV campaign, covering such aspects as privacy, fake news etc. Promises, promises…!
A close runner up is WORLD DUTY FREE. They found themselves digitally exposed when a part time worker in one of their Heathrow stores revealed on micro-blogging site Weibo that WDF were offering Chinese customers a 20% ”VIP” discount if they spent 1000 GBP in store, when other shoppers were offered the same discount for a spend of just 79 GBP. A clear reminder that social media chatter puts more power where it belongs – with customers.
7. TRU AWARD FOR BEST LOW COST CARRIER
NORWEGIAN takes it. An amazing effort by the ‘little red (nosed) plane that could’! Move over Rudolph, the Vikings are coming! What a success story. Norwegian has only just started to make a profit again, but everyone wants to buy it. Why? Good, solid connections, free wi-fi and shiny, new planes.
8. TRU AWARD FOR BEST PRICED AND MOST CONSUMER FRIENDLY AWARD
Does any retailer truly deserve this award and fits both criteria? Sadly, no. How about: DUFFSMANGOKINGTTE FREE, then? Everyone’s a winner – what a result! So here we have a huggable Duty Free and Travel Retail mash-up of the comfortably familiar, agreeably similar and nostalgically reassuring. Shopping concepts that are apparently as difficult to discard as a pair of old slippers or a fresh, sticky bogey.
9. TRU AWARD FOR BEST INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL RETAILER
In sharp contrast to the above, the outright winner here is HEINEMANN.
Heinemann are consistently good performers, offer a great range and value for the traveler and are regarded as good, fair operators to deal with. They have done a remarkable job in Sydney, especially on P & C.
They have also created bold retail concepts like Looklab at CPH, extended their joint venturing into Israel, opened up the cruise channel and are trying to build consensus with suppliers regarding data sharing. Heinemann is a very active global player – considering it remains an independent family company.
Other noteworthy candidates included CHINA DUTY FREE, LAGARDERE TRAVEL RETAIL, DFS and PARADIES LAGARDERE.
10. TRU AWARD FOR BEST BRAND
So many worthy candidates across the categories.
In Liquor, you have to admire JOHNNIE WALKER’S ability to stay on top. Other blends are crashing as malts lights up the eyes of millennials, but the Striding Man keeps on doing his thing.
Sandro Bottega and the BOTTEGA PROSECCO are the stuff legends are made of.
MONCLER has kicked up a storm on the fashion scene. Phenomenal sales success right now in Asia and the Middle East. Who thought it would work – a Michelin Man-style jacket these days? But work it does, as they are so much more.
And a brand that has re-ignited a category? LOUIS VUITTON – a brave move into airports as they reduce distribution in domestic markets. They have created a genuine sense of theatre and luxury, adding real value to Changi, Heathrow and Incheon.
But the overall winner is:
It was independent until the world’s biggest beauty house (”L’Oreal Travel Retail) got its hands on it. Atelier Cologne’s olfactive family (Colognes Absolues) is building the high-end Cologne category almost single-handedly, with its cute travel bottles in personalisable leather cases, as well as customisable blue gift boxes. The brand is becoming visible in an increasing amount of locations. Congrats.
11. TRU AWARD FOR BEST NEW P & C LAUNCH
L’EAU de L’EAU
Eau no, not another P & C launch!
Yet, this one is t’eautally different. This super expensive fragrance edp comes from that unfeasibly huge beauty multi-national, Style over Substance plc. It has the rarest of ingredients, like gorilla-in-the-mist musk and lily of the armpit, all expertly blended by lauded perfumier, Pierre Le Plongeur from his stable in Grasse. It actually smells worse than anything in the ‘reduced to clear’ section of the local Perfume for a Pound store. Pierre says that it has been hard to get that scent ‘just right’, but is confident with the money supporting the brand in consumer and trade press that it will succeed. He understands that there is a high failure rate of new launches, but this one will fly. Why?
” Because it is a product that you can not only use for smell advancement, but you can also shower in it as well as drink it! Plus, and this is a big plus, it comes in a two litre bottle for the same price as any 50 ml bottle”.
12. TRU AWARD FOR GENUINELY EXPERIENTIAL BRAND AIRPORT ACTIVATION
A clear winner here:
HENDRICK’S WORLD CUCUMBER DAY
When does the humble cucumber get this much limelight?
Some other notable candidates for this award include the standout JOHNNIE WALKER HOUSE at Miami International. It doesn’t appear to sell much, but it very visible, engaging and must deliver a good return on investment – as it’s essentially media.
Another worthy is BACARDI’S VR cocktail programme at the Virgin Atlantic lounge, Heathrow, which forges partnerships with the world’s best cocktail bars.
ESTEE LAUDER’S multi-brand pop-up at Hamad International Airport caught the eye as well.
13. TRU AWARD FOR THE SPONSOR’S SPONSOR (SPONSORED BY DUBAI DUTY FREE)
And DUBAI DUTY FREE is rightfully the worthy winner. A clean sweep! What would events organisers or magazines do without the support of Dubai Duty Free? Their Social Responsibility programme is also a clear winner.
14. TRU AWARD FOR ‘WHAT DO WE DO NOW?’ STRATEGY
The winner here is QATAR AIRWAYS. Faced in an unenviable position as a result of its geopolitical situation, they have developed a strategy to sustain growth through the creation of new routes, of increased sponsorship of global events and, more parochially, golf at TFWE.
US TOURISM INDUSTRY – HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM!
Numbers going to the US have fallen. Could it be a Trump slump? The fanatical tweeter of, let’s be kind, ‘unsubstantiated facts’ became President in January 2017. For the first nine months of that year international arrivals to the US plummeted by 4%. This compares to a global tourism boom of +7% over the period (source: UNWTO). Unfortunately, and bizarrely, since that US data release in March, the National Travel & Tourism Office warned that due to ‘anomalies affecting visitor arrivals data’ it would not issue any further news on numbers. And hasn’t ! Now one resident of the White House might be happy about that – even if it means that tourism businesses can’t plan ahead due to such government incompetence.
15. TRU AWARD FOR MOST INNOVATION
Outright winner here is SINGAPORE CHANGI AIRPORT. With T5 on the way and T1’s Jewel development opening soon, Changi continues to lead the field.
A close contender is SAN FRANCISCO. Consistently celebrating and raising the profile of the important stuff – sustainability, art, community, local operators and great food.
16. TRU AWARD FOR WORST AIRPORT BUSINESS LOUNGE
And it’s a 3-way tie!
TORONTO LESTER B PEARSON, Plaza Premium Lounge, Terminal 1. A perfect storm of shabby surroundings, cramped space, minimal amenities and prison food.
BA’S JFK LOUNGE. The mice running around was a highlight of recent months. It also hasn’t seen a cleaner very often.
PARIS CDG TERMINAL 1 SAS LOUNGE. Business travellers having to sit on the floor just about takes the biscuit.
17. TRU AWARD FOR ‘LO’ TRADE COVERAGE
Media coverage is rarely without bias, especially in the B2B press. But the Travel Retail sector generally scores badly for its unquestioning cut-and-paste of press releases complete with all the puff and plaudits. One recent 250 word product story from a leading title included ALL of the following words: high profile, revolutionary, prominent, fantastic, innovative, glamorous, world-class. Credible Pulitzer Prize contender or just laughably embarrassing?!?
Singled out for the worst editorial coverage was FRONTIER.
Actually, there are joint winners here FRONTIER/DFNI. If all else fails when the competition is too strong….. merge! It’s like a couple who have run out of conversation, the only thing left to do is to get married! (These guys also qualified for the ‘What do we do now’? Strategy Award).
18. TRU AWARD FOR CONSPICUOUS ACHIEVEMENT
The judging panel was asked to consider anyone in the Travel Retail business who should be recognised for their community and support work for others.
The winner is MARTIN MOODIE. Mention should also be made of Olivier Bottrie, Michael Barrett and Erin Lillis-Arrowsmith for their unstinting charitable and volunteering works. You are all winners.
19. TRU AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
No surprise here. The winner is ERIK JUUL-MORTENSEN. What a man, what a President, what a run! Our sincere congratulations and thanks.