Today I am finally home after some extensive travelling. It has been a busy few weeks with lots of time spent in airports around the world.  The jetlag is something that has been a persistent issue for me, that and airport shops and F&B. I do have some thoughts that I think might be helpful so if you are an airport and you are going through the tender process or are about to… read on.

The inevitable happened…

In a job like mine, the inevitable will happen. For me, 2014 will be marked as the year it first happened.… I was away for my wife’s birthday. When I found out that I would be away, I adorned my proverbial tin hat and ventured into unchartered territory. Of course, my wife was very understanding with the ‘Don’t worry! You must go, this is a great opportunity etc etc’ line.

Now, whilst I know she really meant it, I also know that I was going to be cashing in a serious amount of brownie points that I had built up in recent months. I may have inadvertently put myself into a deficit – you never can tell. So, it was time to hedge my bets and do a little birthday gift shopping at the airport.

It was during a visit to an airport store that I realized I had discovered my top tip for anyone going through the tender process? Be a nobody!

Go under the radar

What do I mean by this? Pack your bag, fly out and travel through airports where those tendering retailers are currently operating. Forget about the formal visits – go incognito, go unannounced. Here is why…

During my travels I always make a point of visiting the F&B offering and visit the stores. Over the last couple of weeks I have experienced a number of retailers and had varying levels of experience. Some retailers were absolutely awful, others were almost textbook.

The 12 minute void

It is hard to believe that in today’s tough and challenging market, I would be in a duty free store for 12 minutes without even being acknowledged. Well, it happened, not even a ‘Hello’. Despite giving out buying signals, I was not approached. I had been intent on buying my wife a birthday present but a store that cannot get the basics right will not get my business. I will cover my experience in more detail in a later post.

A comparison

By comparison, I visited another retailer who delivered an almost textbook experience. To be fair, this retailer is ALWAYS on point. They consistently deliver a fantastic shopping experience. This is where I would choose to spend.

So, whilst the deal is important in the tendering process, the shopper experience should not be overlooked. Whilst a deal may look good on paper, there is a lot that can happen between a forecast and delivery. A retailer that offers a lower concession fee structure may just have the capability to outperform those that deliver a poor experience. This in turn delivers a greater cash benefit for the airport.

An old boss from many moons ago gave me a great piece of advice – “you can’t eat percentage”…. How very true.

Until next time…


p.s. For new readers, I make it a point not to ‘name and shame’. I know to some that this might be a little boring but One Red Kite operates with absolute discretion. The retailers in question (both good and bad) have been sent feedback.