Lost In Translation? A Cultural Divide in Travel Retail

I recently had a great conversation with someone regarding retail from a domestic perspective and the airport perspective. We had both come to the same consensus – that sometimes, the retail or product offer seems to get lost in translation.

Now, I am not talking about language here – I am talking about the entire experience. What is it that makes this happen?

An Example

I have mentioned my disappointment before regarding Banana Republic. I had a fantastic experience in the states, just brilliant service, well executed stores etc. When Banana Republic arrived in the UK, I was very excited. My expectations were set at the level my american experience gave me. Unfortunately, that expectation wasn’t met. Nowhere near. The brand, the experience, the essence had somehow got lost.

Moving to Airports

The same can happen in airports. The shift from high street to airside can create a different shopping experience. It may be beauty consultants, store teams or simply in its execution and design where the change happens. Of course, there is the argument that you might need to tailor your offer and standards according to new market/audience. However, if you have a winning formula in the domestic market, it pays to ensure that the allure or sparkle translates across into the airside environment. Another example would be Apple. If they decided to enter the airport market, they would need to replicate what was available domestically rather than lose the elements that make it special.

Key Actions

If you are finding that there is something not quite hitting the mark (be really honest – always trying to spin a situation in its most positive light does not lead to progressive change and development), I have listed 3 key actions to review:

  1. Recruitment – Are you recruiting effectively? Are you running assessment centres to find the best candidates? Are you looking in the right place for the best talent. Make sure that you get the right people in the right place even if it takes longer to recruit than planned.
  2. Training – Sometimes Travel Retail can be seen as the poor relation to a bigger business. This means that the airport business suffers in terms of skill set. A business should be putting their best talent into the travel retail sector. Once you have the best people, train them and train them well.
  3. Culture – Travel Retail is not an island. Ensure that your travel retail division is included and part of the wider business. Ensure that TR is not just a minor and misunderstood division. Makes sure the wider culture of the business is evident within the TR environment.

Of course, there are many more actions that can be utilised however, the one common factor is People. Get that right and you will make that translation from Domestic to Airside that much smoother.

As ever, thank you for reading. Please do share and subscribe.


If you have any questions about data harmonisation in Travel Retail, do feel free to drop me a line.

Have a great week.


Founder & Managing Director
One Red Kite Limited

Author of “Travel Retail : The Insider’s Guide”
Click here to buy a signed copy
Click here to buy from Amazon

Share This Article:

Scroll to Top