TRUnblocked Awards 2019

1. TRU AWARD FOR BEST AIRPORT NON OPENING

Yes, no competition here – it has to be the bungled Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Again! This huge embarrassment for Germany is now billions of euros over budget. It should have opened in 2012. The promise is now October 2020. Apparently Ladbrokes, the British betting and gaming company, is taking bets for 2021 as well.

Even if BB does open next year, it will probably be under capacity due to the rapid growth in air traffic to Berlin in the past decade. That will require new satellite construction. It’s just a never-ending story.

And the runner up? London Luton Airport. Have they ever fully opened? They have effectively been under construction for decades. It has never not looked like a building site and it is the only airport that threatens to hand you a hard hat (along with their feel-good drop-off fine.. err, that’s drop-off charge!) when you get dropped off.

2. TRU AWARD FOR BEST DESIGNED BUT LEAST PASSENGER FRIENDLY AIRPORT

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

There were a number of candidates here – Madrid Barajas, Stansted, Dallas Fort Worth and Istanbul. But Manchester takes the accolade – seemingly the airport that people love to hate! Long queues, expensive and in dire need of more (but actually trained) staff.

The close runner up was Dallas Fort Worth. Great design certainly, but poor security and very long queues.

At time of going to press, Beijing Daxing’s 1 million sq m terminal has yet to be officially opened. Could it have ambitions for this dubious accolade next year? It appears to be another homage to structural contortions and elaborate roofscapes. The jury is out.

3. TRU AWARD FOR AIRPORT USE OF ‘WHITE SPACE’

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

The Louis Vuitton store at Changi Airport. An excellent example of how to transform unused space into upper prime retail space and create a real added attraction to travellers.

4. TRU AWARD FOR BEST DIGITALISATION PROGRAMME

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Some very worthy candidates here. But the outright winner is Auckland International Airport with their downtown solution and their Auckland Mall marketplace.

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Also highly commended:

Changi Airport across all terminals. And now with the Jewel it is so well integrated.

London Heathrow’s Heathrow Boutique has been improving the airport’s retail concession revenue. The service allows customers to reserve up to 24 hours before flying and collect their shopping.

Copenhagen Airport, who continue to maintain an excellent social media campaign that impressively supports the launch of additional shops and restaurants

5. TRU AWARD FOR BEST AIRPORT BUSINESS LOUNGE

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

The winner is: Turkish Airlines at Istanbul Airport. A major statement, overlooking the vast shopping space below, offering a variety of seating areas, a mix of hot food prep counters, including street food, tea rooms, kids play areas, cinema etc. Very impressive.

A very close runner up was Qatar Airways’ Al Mourjan lounge in Hamad International.

Also commended: Amex Centurion lounge, Miami International Airport – a great example.

6. TRU AWARD FOR WORST BUSINESS LOUNGE

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

It’s a three-way tie here:

Aspire Lounge Heathrow T5. This little pocket of mediocrity severely dilutes the ”world class” ambitions of the Heathrow brand. What were they thinking? Of course, anything to boost the bottom line.

Any American /Delta lounge springs to mind. We’ve all been there!

Charles De Gaulle 1 SAS lounge. Still in poor company.

7. TRU AWARD FOR BEST AIRPORT OPENING

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

ISTANBUL AIRPORT wins it. So ambitious a project, so badly needed. We will be dedicating a special feature on this airport in a separate blog later this year, reviewing all aspects – including a detailed review of the retail offer.

Highly commended goes to Muscat International Airport.

8. TRU AWARD FOR BEST LOW COST CARRIER

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

It’s Air Asia. This airline has doubled revenue and passenger numbers between 2014 and 2018. It has come top of the Skytrax rankings (based on online consumer survey) for 11 years running for a reason.

Commended: Norwegian.

9. TRU AWARD FOR WORST LOW COST CARRIER

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

It can only be Ryan Air. There is very little one can say positively about this airline. But you have to applaud the consistency in, and dedication to, sucking year after year. In 2018 stranding your passengers because of a tiff with pilots was a big, big fail.

10. TRU AWARD FOR SPACE CAKES

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

This special award goes to KLM. Apparently ”the airline accidentally gave Space Cakes to its passengers recently in a bizarre incident” according to www.thinairtoday.com ”On flight KL420 from Amsterdam to San Francisco, catering services mistook the marijuana-filled cakes for normal cakes – a mistake easily made in Amsterdam”.

The result? ”Most passengers on the flight fell asleep, with others reported to be very hungry, finishing all of the meals – including those meant for the return flight.

The flight was delayed for just 30 minutes. it took some time to get the landing clearance because the pilots couldn’t stop laughing”!

11. TRU AWARD FOR BEST PRICED AND MOST CONSUMER FRIENDLY TRAVEL RETAILER

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Gebr. Heinemann takes it. They have a great assortment of products – some on deep promotion, others with just the tax saving. Heinemann appears to remain focused on delivering value. They also manage luxury brands in the right way. With easy-to-shop stores that are well signposted, they house consistently well trained staff.

12. TRU AWARD FOR BEST TRAVEL RETAILER

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

China Duty Free Group is the standout winner. Their meteoric rise speaks volumes about their offer and their ambition.

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Highly commended:

King Power Thailand, offering an impeccable service and assortment of brands and is consistent across all their stores and formats.

MSC Cruises is included for the large effort the cruise line puts into the training of its store staff – junior and senior

Arket. The refreshing tone of H & M’s unique hybrid lifestyle concept injects an authentic Scandic charm into Copenhagen Airport.

13. TRU AWARD FOR MOST DISAPPOINTING AIRPORT DUTY FREE OPENING

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Actually, we are flipping this. It’s not so much an opening, but DFS’s closing at Changi. This is a massive loss and perfectly sums up what is wrong with the tender process and the constant focus on growing revenue too fast.

14. TRU AWARD FOR BEST BRAND

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Many great contenders here. Hendricks because cucumbers need friends and they have a bestie in Hendricks which stands out for its quirky and humorous ideas. Rituals for their ongoing renaissance in TR. Hermes – well, just for being Hermes, but also for their genius game-playing app that has managed to reel in more youngsters to crave every handbag and scarf. Then there’s Whyte & Mackay for all their amazing campaigns. So, too, Estee Lauder, consistent across the globe – great merchandising and theatre to help drive penetration and sales.

But the ultimate winner is Dior with their increasingly ambitious and lavish pop-up installations. They never fail to impress.

15. TRU AWARD FOR GENUINELY EXPERIENTIAL BRAND AIRPORT ACTIVATION

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Although Dior would qualify again, this award goes to the La Prairie Beauty Spa at Sydney Airport. With privacy suite, offering free facials and deep cleanses upon purchase of products, La Prairie’s Beauty Spa offers stylish luxury and a chance to get seriously pampered whilst travelling. A worthy winner.

16. TRU AWARD FOR BEST FOOD & BEVERAGE OUTLET

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Another new award category this year and there’s much to choose from. Yet, surprisingly not from under the portfolio of the usual suspects. Auckland Airport has recently brought together a plethora of yummy-ness. Then there’s HWH Flour & Stone in Dubai with its bread based dishes – inspired by recipes from around the world and more than enough to get you to part with your dough (sorry, irresistible!).

But the winner is: Pink Fish at Sola Stavanger and Changi, the Jewel. Great design from Portland matched by great food and healthy ethics.

17. TRU AWARD FOR A ‘WHAT DO WE DO NOW STRATEGY?’

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Where things go wrong. Three contenders here.

First up, TFWA’s choice of Tony Blair as keynote speaker at this year’s Cannes conference opener to the exhibition has had mixed reviews. Boris Johnson next year, maybe, to create a balance?

Second is the Changi Airport liquor tender. Of course this raises the issue of tenders all over again. But it also begs an interesting question about DFS. Are they a department store operator or a duty free specialist? Changi’s exit suggests a department store. How long will it stay part of LVMH?

Third, and going back to Cannes, last year the Frontier Awards took a knock when the organisers opted to host it outside Cannes in the unexciting congress centre at Mandelieu-la-Napoule. The venue proved hard to find and attendees were also subjected to a slow, make-shift security check while queuing up out on the street. Happily this year the event is back at the revamped Palm Beach. Smart move – take a bow.

18. TRU AWARD FOR ‘LO’ TRADE MAGAZINE COVERAGE

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

The industry doesn’t much care for knocking copy between the trade media. But this is just a blog, with no advertising or sponsor support. And these are our awards, so it’s ok. The following is a rather pointless effort from DFNI. https://www.dfnionline.com/dfni-tv/friday-fun/hoop-head-challenge-dfni-online/ Do you also think that the red hoops look rather like dunces hats? We are not convinced that this series of 4 videos does anything for the credibility of the (much improving) DFNI. The videos lasted a month.

19. TRU AWARD FOR CONSPICUOUS INNOVATION

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

It’s all things Charles Chen and CDFG’s collaborations with Alibaba, mamababa and fliggy.

20. TRU AWARD FOR BEST CSR

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Two winners here. Gebr. Heinemann and their call to action for the Travel Retail industry in their published CSR Report. They have drawn their line in the sand in the hope that others will follow.

The Moodie Davitt Report also wins for their Duty Calls charity dinner in May at the Jewel, Changi Airport. Some U$250,000 was raised for Friends International.

21. TRU AWARD FOR CONSPICUOUS ACHIEVEMENT

TRUnblocked Awards 2019

Last, but by no means least, this award goes to Colm McLoughlin. From his early days at Woolworth’s to running Dubai Duty Free, Colm celebrated 50 years in travel retail this summer. At Dubai Duty Free’s helm, he has taken it from a $20m business to $2bn over a period of around 25 years. Apart from that impressive achievement, Colm has made Dubai Duty Free one of the best known brands globally as well as in travel retail through heavy investment in notable sports sponsorship and savvy PR. A wonderful ambassador for Dubai, for Dubai Duty Free and, truly, one of a kind!