May 7 2018  |  Associations

Today's TFWA Asia Pacific conference kicked off with a focus on #TRevolution

By Rebecca Byrne in Singapore

Opening the conference, TFWA Managing Director John Rimmer commented that the travel industry was booming with increased passenger traffic and investment in infrastructure, but passenger spend is not rising at the same rate. He focused on the #TRevolution theme saying that the industry needs to “innovate to adapt and evolve”.

Erik Juul Mortensen, TFWA President, gave the 2017 duty free research figures. Global duty and tax-free sales increased 8.1% on 2016 at US$68.8 billion. Asia Pacific was the powerhouse, accounting for 45% of global sales.The fastest growing category was perfume & cosmetics with a global growth of 13. 8% year on year.Asia Pacific growth was more dramatic at 19.9%.

Juul-Mortensen highlighted the fact that industry stakeholders are still reluctant to share data and this hampers the industry’s potential. Furthermore customers are more diverse then ever and rewriting the rules of retail. With digital disruption it is vital to embrace digital as the key driver to connect with customers seamlessly. Mcommerce continues to be a threat and, with the rise of the middle class, duty free players must adapt quickly.


Also commenting on the growth of Asia, Andrew Ford, President APTRA, talked about how sales are booming in places such as Hong Kong and airport numbers are rising. APTRA continues to undertake in depth research, hold seminars and lobby within the industry for the benefit of its members.He touched on the latest WHO initiative to ban duty free tobacco sales.

A view from a digital insider, Adam Cheyer, Founder Siri, Viv & Sentient, highlighted the changes in artificial intelligence in the last ten years and its application in the duty free industry.He believes that the next decade will see the rise of the personal assistant, which will become a primary way of frictionless interaction for every user and business. Futurist, Shivvy Jervis also commented on consumer’s desire for frictionless shopping and how airports are missing opportunities to pull in consumers at all points along the journey. She concluded that “62% of travelers would make an unplanned purchase off the back of an immersive brand experience and seamless customer service.”

Filippo Bianchi, Partner & MD in Milan, Boston Consulting Group, shared the findings of a TFWA commissioned report on how to grow the duty free business. He strongly believes that the industry has to develop as an ecosystem where everyone wins and key to this is sharing data.Currently, growth has slowed in spite of the rising passenger figures and he commented that the industry is completely underleveraged in spite of its three assets: a data rich off line environment; a predictable customer base; and a unique pricing value proposition.


Neuhaus CEO, Ignace Van Doorselaere echoed this sentiment as he sees success depending on how airport, retailer and brands relate.Strong brand building will always trump disruption, but collaboration between the relevant parties will lead to a greater increase in sales.


A panel discussion followed, featuring: Sunil Tuli, Managing Director, King Power Group (HK); Scott Collier, Vice President Customer and Terminal Services, Greater Toronto Airports Authority; Emmanuel De Place, COO, Lagardère Travel Retail Asia Pacific, Jack MacGowan CEO Aer Rianta International; Keith Hunter, Hunter Palmer Global Retail Solutions Co-founder and Van Doorselaere.Chaired by Rimmer, the content focused on better communication between the three sides of the trinity, and how inflexibility in contracts and lack of data sharing was hampering progress.

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