Whether you rely on hard data or observation to form your judgement, the mood in Asia Pacific duty free and travel retail is undeniably positive. Those who like figures will note the healthy passenger numbers or solid in-region retailer results. For others who prefer to trust their own eyes, the sight of bustling departure lounges and crowded airside stores speaks volumes. TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference 2018 had something for both. Generation Research’s preliminary 2017 industry sales statistics, presented by TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen in his Conference address, showed Asia Pacific leading the way with double-digit growth. The Exhibition floor, larger and thronged by more visitors than ever before, told a similarly upbeat tale.
A packed Conference auditorium on the opening Monday indicated a busy week was in store. Nearly 1,400 delegates (+4% versus 2017) heard presentations from the TFWA and APTRA Presidents followed by guest keynotes Adam Cheyer and Shivvy Jervis, both well-versed in digital technology. Cheyer charted the rapid rise of artificial intelligence, predicting that it would shape our interaction with machines, while Jervis shared her vision of how AI, augmented reality and haptics could combine to transform passenger engagement at airports. The second plenary session featured a thought-provoking panel discussion of the current airport concession model and ways in which it could be made to benefit all stakeholders. Three lively workshops rounded off the day’s formal proceedings, examining how tech can ensure frictionless shopping and enliven brand activations plus an update on the industry’s main regulatory challenges.
Around 3,200 visitors (+3% on last year) filled the aisles of the Exhibition, where 309 companies were waiting to meet them and do business. Several two-storey stands gave the showfloor an expansive feel, an impression reflected by the space occupied (10,505 square metres, a new record) and the fact that the average stand footprint is also increasing. All product categories were well represented but confectionery and fine food exhibitors saw the biggest increase versus 2016. As duty free and travel retail’s largest single market, Korea yielded the strongest uplift in visitors by country of origin this year with growth of 20%. Attendance at the networking events mirrored the active participation at the Conference and Exhibition. 948 guests enjoyed Sunday’s Welcome Cocktail at the spectacular Gardens by the Bay and there were similarly strong turnouts for the Singapore Swing and Chill-Out Parties. The Review, TFWA’s official online record of this year’s event in Singapore, has on-the-spot coverage, interviews, speaker highlights and much more. Follow the link below to view it.