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The summit is taking place at the Marriott World Center in Orlando

DFNI Blog: Summit of the Americas

DFNI was on the scene in Orlando at the first Summit of the Americas jointly held by ASUTIL and IAADFS. Our reporter on the ground, Liam Coleman, met with the leading figures in the American duty-free industry and gave all the latest news from the summit as it happened below.

Wednesday 21 March

5pm: That brings to an end DFNI‘s live coverage of the Summit of the Americas. Thanks to all speakers, exhibitors and sponsors for the part they payed in a memorable event. Roll on 2019’s summit at Orlando’s Hyatt Regency.

2pm: IAADFS executive director Michael Payne and ASUTIL secretary general Jose Luis Donagaray gave their thoughts on the summit at the closing press conference.

Donagaray opened by saying: “On behalf of ASUTIL, we are satisfied with the show. I think we are on the right path.”

Payne added: “Our board feels it was well done in terms of trying to coordinate the two shows.”

With this year’s summit representing the first summit jointly organised by ASUTIL and the IAADFS, the integration of elements of the two conferences, such as conference sessions, was discussed.

“We think the addition of educational sessions was really good and they were very educational. There is a lot of energy around having them,” Payne said. He, however, didn’t rule out the possibility of the conferences being pushed together into a single day, something he revealed delegates would be surveyed on.

Despite the consolidation of the two shows, delegate numbers were down, with early estimates suggesting there were 1,860 registrants – 180-200 less than the corresponding IAADFS event last year.

Addressing these figures, Payne said this was primarily due to three reasons. “We didn’t get as many on-site registrants from the Caribbean as we usually do; we have lost some buyers because of the wine show on top of this; then the consolidation on both the concessionaire and supplier side of the industry has impacted us,” he said.

Despite eight more exhibitors than the IAADFS Orlando event last year and 93sq m more taken out by exhibitors, one criticism that has been levelled by exhibitors is around an often sparsely populated exhibition floor and business being done in the hotel lobby or private exhibitor rooms.

Addressing this, Payne said he hoped this would be addressed by the event moving to the Hyatt Regency in Orlando in 2019. One of the reasons we are moving is for a more intimate, connected environment. One of the other advantages at moving to the Hyatt is they have more exhibit rooms close to the trade floor,” he added.

11am: DFNI noted on a walk of the trade floor that William Grant & Sons was proudly displaying the pair of DFNI Americas Awards it won at Monday’s ceremony.

William Grant & Sons Americas regional marketing manager Richard Bush also revealed the award-winning World Cucumber Day for the Hendrick’s brand would be returning in 2018 and be “bigger and better than ever”.

“We plan to activate at even more airports so as to do it bigger and better than 2017. This is not just a global travel-retail campaign but a global campaign for Hendrick’s so it is very exciting and offers a 360-degree customer experience by running it in both the high street and duty-free shop,” Bush added.

9.30am: The final session saw Duty Free World Council (DFWC) president Frank O’Connell talk about the positive economic impact the duty-free industry has on the Americas.

Explaining the reason for the study, which showed the American duty-free industry was worth $13bn in 2016, O’Connell explained: “Sales figures don’t impress legislators, but when you talk about jobs and people, that is when you impress them.”

O’Connell revealed that directly the duty-free industry was responsible for more than 60,000 jobs across the Americas. “It is supporting a significant number of jobs,” he said, adding this was an important message to convey to legislators.

Wrapping up, O’Connell concluded: “Our business contributes to economic prosperity and in many cases that is being delivered to regions where it is not possible to get economic prosperity so our industry contributes employment in areas that doesn’t have as much quality employment.”

8.45am: m1nd-set owner and CEO Peter Mohn and IATA director of travel intelligence Charles de Gheldere presented their joint findings on passenger trends in the Americas.

The majority of regions in the Americas saw strong growth in 2017, according to de Gheldere. The exception to this was the Carribbean, which still saw passenger traffic increase for the year but saw this slow towards the end of the year due to the hurricanes.

Mohn then spoke about Chinese travellers and how the American travel-retail industry can capitalise on these consumers, which represent 20% of all travel-retail sales around the world.

“The conversion rate of 70% is like nothing we see anywhere else in the world,” Mohn said. He then revealed that the primary reason Chinese consumers purchase in duty-free is because of perceived value, but unique products and a strong sense of place in store are also important.

The m1nd-set findings also suggested that Chinese consumers are much more likely to make purchases based on engagements with staff; according to Mohn, 72% of Chinese buyers had their purchase influenced by sales staff.

Tuesday 20 March

10pm: The final night of the Summit of the Americas was marked with a spectacular gala dinner. The dinner was marked with not only excellent food and fantastic entertainment, but also saw industry veterans Stellar Partners CEO Susan Stackhouse and the recently retired Jean Michel Juin of Nestle International Travel Retail fame made honorary lifetime members of IAADFS.

3:30pm: Tito’s managing director international John McDonnell updated DFNI on the vodka brand’s plans for 2018.

McDonnell revealed Tito’s was planning to have a pop-up bar in duty-free stores at two airports – most likely Toronto Pearson International airport and Vancouver International airport – and the vodka brand was set to be listed at Dufry’s European and Asian stores for the first time before the end of 2018.

Speaking about the pop-up bars, McDonell said: “It is very important to get the millenials’ attention, as they will only look up from their phone four times at the airport. We need to figure out a way to give them a positive experience and hopefully motivate them to go into the retail shop.”

2:30pm: An official tornado warning and the apocalyptic crashes of an imminent thunderstorm are not stopping delegates networking at the likes of the Mazaya shisha lounge.

9.30am: Next to address delegates was Carnival Cruise Lines EVP/ chief operating officer Gus Antorcha.

Offering a buoyant message for the cruise sector for the coming years, Antorcha said: “It is pretty massive the growth that is coming.”

Speaking specifically about the cruise and ferry retail sector, the topic of June’s DFNI Conference, Antorcha argued that recent years have seen rapid evolution and, as a result, landmark brands are available onboard now for the first time.

“For us the retail category has trailed in where we have focussed behind the likes of entertainment and F&B,” Antorcha admitted. “We have had a traditionally high-margin concession business, which drove the retail partners we had to a tough place so they went for high-margin promotional products and experience was second to that.”

However, Antorcha said Carnival Cruise Lines was now moving towards a different model, which is more experience driven to drive greater onboard revenue.

“Promotions are really important so you need to have evolving promotions as a way of engaging the [consumers on the] ship,” he told delegates.

8.30am: Dufry chief executive officer Julián Díaz heads up the world’s biggest duty-free retailer so is somebody well placed to talk about travel retail’s place in an ever-changing world, the theme for his keynote address that opened the conference’s second day.

Díaz talked about Dufry’s e-motion formula, which looks to engage with customers at every opportunity, as its primary way of the retailer having its place in the changing world.

Reiterating a theme emphasised by Allen in one of Monday’s speeches, Díaz emphasised that the e-motion formula looks to link physical and digital experiences together to create a 360-degree experience for consumers.

“What we try to do is connect the passenger from the moment they are at home to the moment they arrive at their destination,” Díaz said.

In a passionate conclusion, Díaz told delegates: “We need to develop new commercial concepts that will facilitate this new generation of millenials and engage them again.

“We need to invent something else in terms of product and service. We need to develop specific offers for this generation of customers.”

Monday 19 March

8pm: This evening saw the best of the American travel-retail industry rewarded at the DFNI Americas Awards.

An impressive crowd of senior industry figures flocked into the room early for the champagne reception, courtesy of Laurent-Perrier. The awards themselves were then co-presented by DFNI’s Amanda Felix and Liam Coleman.

The well-deserving winners were as follows:

Airport Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Hershey’s – DFS Group

Border Store of the Year – Puerto Iguazú store, London Supply Group

Best Marketing Activation – Hendrick’s Gin World Cucumber Day, William Grant & Sons

Best New Product – Chandon Royal Caribbean Limited Edition, Moët Hennessy

Best New Shop Opening – iS Beauty, International Shoppes

Inflight Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Cabeau – DFASS

Best Supplier – William Grant & Sons

Cruise/Ferry Retailer of the Year – Harding Retail

Americas Travel Retailer of the Year – DFS Group

More photos from the night and pictures of all the winners can be viewed here.

12.30pm: Ahead of their joint presentation on Wednesday morning, m1nd-set owner and CEO Peter Mohn and IATA director of travel intelligence Charles de Gheldere spoke to DFNI about the research they have produced on the American travel-retail market, which they will be presenting to conference delegates.

“IATA and m1nd-set have been partners for many years and we have developed a new product that leverages new data to turn airline ticket data into a nationality traffic report. When you combine these insights with m1nd-set’s data on purchasing figures at airports, you can bring a lot more value on how to adapt to the latest trends.” de Gheldere explained of the research that will inform the findings presented.

On what content will be included in the presentation, Mohn told DFNI there would be a strong focus on the revenue opportunities presented by Chinese consumers. “We will present on the Chinese in the Americas, what the share is, where they travel, what they are expecting and what they would like to see more of,” he said.

9.45am: Portland Design director of environments Lewis Allen talked about the importance of the customer experience at the airport in the day’s second keynote address.

Emphasising why duty-free stakeholders should offer a personalised consumer experience, Allen said: “We need to create journeys where customers get exactly what they want when they want.”

The collection of items ordered online is an important part of that consumer journey, Allen added. He gave the example of IKEA as a retailer away from airports that has integrated the collection experience with F&B to maximise revenue opportunities.

Allen concluded that retailers must look to offer consumers a 360-degree experience when shopping.

9am: AOE CEO and founder Kian Gould questioned whether the current model for engaging consumers is duty-free is still the right model with the technology available. “You have all built beautiful stores to encourage impulse spending, but the question is whether this is still the reality of consumer behaviour,” he told delegates.

Gould’s company has worked with the likes of Frankfurt and Heathrow airport to provide a more innovative omnichannel approach to retail at the airport.

One example of this, which Gould says is going live this week, is the new Heathrow Boutique. On this e-commerce platform, consumers can order products in advance of arriving at the London airport and have their shopping delivered to their gate. Gould said the plan is to have most SKUs at the airport available on the online boutique by the end of the year.

“We are not doomsday prophets, but that is where the growth lies,” Gould added of digital disruptors to the duty-free industry.

8.30am: ASUTIL president Gustavo Fagundes gave an overview of the Brazilian economy and the travel-retail market in the country. Reflecting on the economic difficulties faced by Brazil over recent years, Fagundes revealed the passenger traffic in the country – which took a hit by dropping from 211 million in 2015 to 196 million in 2016 – is still not forecasted to return to the 2015 levels for a few years, with 202 million annual passengers expected in 2018.

Fagundes, however, revealed that despite the challenges faced by the wider Brazilian economy there was a lot for the Brazilian duty-free market to be positive about. Not only did the Brazilian travel-retail market see double-digit growth in revenue in 2017, the plans for border stores are accelerating rapidly and there are high hopes for advanced arrival limits, he said.

Sunday 18 March

10pm: Delegates were out in force at tonight’s opening cocktail event. Attendees were given the chance to meet with colleagues old and new as the sun set on the opening day in Florida.

7pm: The Women in Travel Retail (WiTR) event at the Summit saw women at the summit have the chance to both network and raise money for the association’s 2018 charity, Hand in Hand for Haiti.

10am: As is tradition, the opening morning of the summit saw a variety of sporting activities for delegates. Golf, yoga or a 5km charity fun run were on offer and the vast majority of the DFNI team opted for the charity run.

DFNI sales director Felix Barlow, associate publisher Amanda Felix and digital/Asia editor Liam Coleman before the run

This year’s charity run was organised by Essence Corp, who made a donation to Hand in Hand for Haiti for each of the participants in the run.

DFNI digital & Asia editor Liam Coleman ultimately repeated his success from the fun run at the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes and won the run by completing the five kilometre course in 19:11. He was closely followed by DFNI sales director Felix Barlow, who came in a close second place just behind.

After the run, participants made the most of a pleasant Florida morning to take in the beautiful surroundings while networking with contacts old and new at a post-run breakfast.

Saturday 17 March

8pm: After spending the vast majority of St Patrick’s Day flying in from the UK, DFNI‘s editorial team finally touched down in Orlando. Earlier today, DFNI sales director Felix Barlow, who was already in Orlando, attended the President’s Reception on the 28th floor of the Marriott World Center and took this fantastic snap of our venue for the next few days.