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The TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes this month hosted its own digital village, a showcase for some of the leading tech and latest online and digital innovations in the Global Travel Retail channel. just-drinks brings you a summary of five of the best ideas on show.

  • The Mile High Store

When it comes to the threat posed by online retail to GTR, the Mile High Store is definitely of the "if you can't beat them, join them" school. Started just over a year ago by Gurjeet Singh, the downloadable app claims to make shopping from airport shopping "easier, faster and better" by hosting duty-free shops on one e-commerce platform. Singh tells just-drinks that once the app knows where the consumer is travelling from and to, it offers a complete list of all the products available at those two destinations. The consumer can then pick up the item or have it delivered to their gate. The platform also offers pop-up ads, "hot deals" and festival promotions.

  • Skyra

This innovative app was at the digital village last year, but under a different name. It returned in a new guise this time around, but retains its creative approach to the online GTR shopping experience. Founder & owner Cenk Eroktav has all kinds of stats that show how Skyra can help the industry recoup US$3.8bn in sales lost from passengers who fail or forget to buy duty-free goods on behalf of their stay-at-home friends. The real meat of Skyra, however, is how it digitalises a simple request from an acquaintance to buy something in duty free, then escorts the transaction all the way towards a successful in-store sale.

People using the app are alerted when a friend books a plane ticket, allowing them to send a request for a particular duty-free product. What's more, the app allows the person making the request to pay for the product. Notifications are sent when the product is bought, and again when collected by the buyer. 

The beauty of the app is that the traveller still has to visit the duty-free store at the airport, helping to increase much-needed footfall. "In Travel Retail, you have to be digital, but you have to be physical as well," Eroktav says.

  • Concourse Display Management and Instaroid

Specialising in GTR furniture design and installation, Concourse Display Management used this year's show to show off its latest iteration in a partnership with instant camera company Instaroid. The two companies have built what is basically a Polaroid instant camera with a 21st Century social media twist, allowing consumers in duty-free outlets to snap a pic and instantly print it out. The photo can also be shared on social media channels. Concourse has already been working on the platform for a couple of years, but is already looking to upgrade - an augmented-reality version is now under development.

  • Ethos Farm

One of the biggest challenges in GTR marketing activations is how to train that staff who will be your brand's main point of contact with the consumer. Few know this better than Sally Alington, the former MD of Blackjack Promotions, a UK-based staff services provider. Fly from any UK airport and you'll have seen Arlington's former charges talking to consumers and giving them the low-down on the latest deals and brand stories.

She has now set up her own company, Ethos Farm, which uses apps and iPads to provide on-the-spot support for GTR shop employees, as well as training to give consumers an enjoyable in-store experience. The apps hold bespoke briefings and brand information, so the staff need never be short of something to say. They also help track sales and KPI measurements. 

"When at Blackjack, I always used to get a panicked call two days before a brand activation saying: 'I forgot to get staff!'," Arlington says. Ethos Farm aims to bring those last-minute hires quickly up to speed.

  • Sniffy Solutions

You can smell Sniffy before you see it - a large billboard with holes around the side. The holes are for bespoke scents - whether its a perfume or a gin botanical - that are sprayed out at consumers at the touch of the interactive screen.

What's more, a camera analyses facial expressions to determine whether they enjoyed the experience. This data is then fed back to the brands to help gauge the success of the activation.

Global Travel Retail in fine health, but online threat looms large - TFWA head


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