Airports as the great global brand ambassadors – the further advancement of the most effective marketing platforms in the world

25th ACI EUROPE Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition, Helsinki, 11-13 April

The ACI EUROPE Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition this year headed to Helsinki. It was a fitting location – Helsinki Airport has undergone a complete makeover during the past couple of years, including a completely renewed commercial offer, the essence of which is a combination of Finnish and top international brands. The event attracted around 400 key industry stakeholders, representing airports, retailers, brands, and consultants, which spoke volumes about the importance of commercial and retail revenues to Europe’s airports. Global travel retail sales were €55 billion in 2015, with European airport retail accounting for €10.3 billion of that total.

The central theme of this year’s event – ‘Airports as the great global brand ambassadors – the further advancement of the most effective marketing platforms in the world’ – permeated each of the conference sessions. There was a consensus that while the dynamics for travel retail are impressive, and it remains a window to the world for brands, there should be less focus on premiumisation and selling to high-spending nationalities, and more emphasis on grasping digital opportunities.

The 26th ACI EUROPE Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition takes place in Nice, April 2017, hosted by Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur.

developing non aeronautical revenues necessity for success kari savolainen finavia

“Developing non-aeronautical revenues is a necessity for us to succeed,” said Kari Savolainen, CEO Finavia. He explained how Helsinki Airport has created its “own attractive identity” through a complete makeover that has included renewal of the commercial offer, with 70 new or renewed shops, cafés and restaurants.


ACI EUROPE Director General Olivier Jankovec delivered his traditional State of the Industry address, in which he outlined how airports are transforming from B2B to B2C businesses. While commercial revenues at Europe’s airports totalled €10.3 billion in 2015, Jankovec commented that it’s worrying that commercial revenues are underperforming growth in aeronautical revenues. A key challenge is airports’ ability to invest.


Sarah Branquinho, President, European Travel Retail Confederation, said: “Airports, brands and retailers need to work hand in hand to secure a regulatory environment that will allow them to fully exploit the potential of duty free & travel retail.”


Garry Stasiulevicuis, Managing Director, Counter Intelligence Retail, commented that the retail basics are often overlooked, with categories over-ranged and not spaced correctly, and communication with consumers often one-dimensional. He added that more could be done to capitalise on travel retail differentiators, such as exclusive products.


Jaya Singh, Head of Global Accounts, Mondelez World Travel Retail, and President, APTRA, explained that there is a 52% penetration opportunity, with over half of travellers not visiting a duty free store. He also spoke about driving behavioural change to unlock category and total channel growth.


Patrick Halliwell, Managing Director, Daktronics, and Sakchin Bessette, co-founder and Executive Creative Director, Moment Factory, delivered a joint presentation on how LED canvases have the potential to transform the traveller experience by engaging, entertaining and informing. In terms of monetisation, direct revenues are achieved through advertising and sponsorship, and indirect revenues through retail and F&B sales, for example.


Filip Soete, Chief Commercial Officer, Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur, outlined the Nice Airport vision to “deliver the most surprising commercial experience in a European airport”. The new retail offer in T1 was completed in May this year, and in T2 will be complete in May 2017. Soete explained that the key objectives are to improve the passenger experience, maximise non-aeronautical revenues, and improve the terminals operationally.


Peter Mohn, owner and CEO of m1nd-set, presented an exclusive piece of research on what will activate the traveller and shopper in Europe. His activation recommendations include providing new and innovative ways to connect with consumers through augmented reality and social media, embracing a multi-channel approach like reserving items online for collection in-store, and using big data to understand mega-trends.


Arturs Saveljevs, Director of Commercial Department, Riga International Airport, shared his thoughts on the potential of “off-piste” concepts and highlighted the work of the ACI EUROPE Commercial Forum Task Force on Airport Cities and Real Estate.


Mark Bergsrud, CEO Grab, emphasised the role of mobile commerce in improving the customer experience, while describing how Grab’s mobile ordering platform, which aggregates content relating to airports’ retail and F&B offers, has the potential to increase non-aeronautical revenues.


Stephan Uhrenbacher, CEO FLIO, outlined the passenger experience benefits of the global app for “all things airport”, which combines easy access to free WiFi, arrivals and departure information, insider tips, and exclusive retail offers and discounts with key retailers, food & beverage outlets and passenger service providers. With one interface for all airports, FLIO simplifies the airport experience.


The exhibition was a showcasing platform and networking opportunity for industry suppliers, covering the broad spectrum of commercial activities, including retailers, brands, F&B, parking, car rental, currency exchange, and digital innovation.


The conference and exhibition were augmented by two spectacular social events. The Welcome Reception took place at the Finnair Skywheel and Restaurant Sipuli’s Conservatory. The Gala Dinner at Vanha Ylioppilastalo, meanwhile, took delegates on a journey across Finland.

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