I have said before, Digital presents a unique challenge for travel retail. (see my article here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/travel-retail-digital-challenge-kevin-brocklebank for more information).

In this post, I want to bring a different perspective to the challenge of travel retail. Once you have read this, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on Digital in Travel Retail and whether it has made you think a little differently.

An Typical Leisure TravellerMeet George. George travels once a year on holiday. He works hard, has a good job and has a busy schedule. He takes his wife (who also works) and 2 children on holiday for 2 weeks in the summer every year. To make life easier, they opt for a package holiday and have everything included. George likes to plan his trip.

Here are some facts about George.

  • Barring any unfortunate incidents, George will live 365 days in 2017.
  • George has 8,760 hours to spend a year.
  • George sleeps 8 hours a night (any parent reading this will know that this cannot be true!!). That is 2,920 hours a year asleep.
  • George brushes his teeth twice a day for the recommended 2 minutes each time. That is 1,460 minutes’ year or 24 hours a year.
  • George, spends a grand total of 4 hours in the airport.

George Spends More Time Brushing His Teeth Than In The Airport

So there you have it. The chances are, passengers spend more time in a year brushing their teeth than they do at the airport. In fact, George would need to fly 6 return trips a year to match the amount of time spent he spends brushing his teeth.

My point here is that targeting the prospective passenger can be like threading a needle. Capturing a moving target (literally!) can be a challenge. Interacting with them in the right way at the right time to engage and turn them into shoppers isn’t the easiest of tasks.

You Are Targeting 0.07% of Their Time Awake.

For a single trip a year type traveller, that is 4 hours in year. Overlay things such as relevance, need, desire, dwell time etc and this is even less. That is why I believe that most Digital initiatives in travel retail will fail.

Ah you say, what about their planning time when they are researching their trip.

A recent Google research report highlighted that 85% of leisure travelers decide what to do once they have reached their destination. The research also highlighted that sharing information for the first time (to a given destination) traveller is beneficial. This is something we recommended in our Cannes Brochure 2015 – Travel Retail 2020.

As for shoppers planning to shop before going to the airport? Well I plan to have an unbroken night’s sleep but with a 7 year old son who thinks sleep is boring, that is likely to be a challenge. Planning and Doing are very separate things. More on that in a later post.

But Surely The Sheer Passenger Volume Will Be Enough?

Well, the sheer scale of numbers will always have an effect. It comes back down to effective targeting. Are you capturing the right people? How do you identify them?

Is There Any Hope For Digital in Travel Retail?

In a word, Yes. I personally believe that we need to deconstruct the digital experience and re-build it in a way that is engaging. As with so many other things, domestic market rules may not necessarily apply. The big question should be – “is this [insert digital opportunity] a gimmick or does it really add value to the traveller / shopper?”.

We believe we have found a couple of low cost solutions and we would be delighted to share some thoughts at the TFWA Asia Pacific conference in May (contact details below).

What About 3rd Party Product Sales Apps?

Well, let’s take a look at that. The retailer will probably say – “So, you want to sell our product on pre-order and you want to take a cut of that?….. and it would be helpful if we sent our traffic your way… and you want to allow our competitors to… also sell….”. Yeah, good luck with that one.

A Final Thought

My final thought as a marketeer? Do not start with digital. Digital is a tool in the marketing mix like any other media (i.e. press, billboards, magazines, direct mail etc). Larry Page from Google is quoted as using the toothbrush test for new apps. Would you use the app twice a day? In the TR world, definitely not, you may be lucky if you use an airport retail app twice a year.

Now, I am not trying to be a downer on digital. It absolutely has its uses. All I am saying is really think about WHO you are targeting and HOW you are going to connect with them. It is then a case of going about it in the right way.

Thank you in advance for reading and sharing. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. Either drop me a line or put a comment below.