In my opinion: travel retail is a missed opportunity, suggests Tax Free World Association


Erik Juul-Mortensen, president of leading duty free and travel retail trade body Tax Free World Association, discusses the importance of technology within the travel retail sector

Juul-Mortensen: technology has key role in travel retail

When the two sectors of ‘travel’ and ‘retail’ come together, the combination is a powerful one. And it’s big business. As the duty free and travel retail market’s current value is set at over $62 billion USD, and is due to rise to $120 billion USD by 2025, this is a market that presents a wealth of opportunity.

As in many aspects of our day to day lives, the changes within both travel and retail in recent years have been dramatic. The number of people travelling is growing at a blistering pace. And again, technology is playing an ever-larger part in the way we travel. In our increasingly technological age, everything from staying connected during a trip, through to booking travel for leisure or business, is increasingly being done online.

At the same time, new technology is revolutionising the way consumers shop, with more people than ever before making purchases online, whether on their laptops, tablets or smartphones.

Research shows people are more engaged in technology when they travel

We at Tax Free World Association recently commissioned travel retail specialist research company m1nd-set to examine technology and its place in the duty free and travel retail market. The study showed that people are more engaged in technology when they travel, with the majority of travellers booking their flights online, nearly all passengers travelling with their smartphones and a vast majority taking laptops and tablets with them on their trips.

Despite these figures, travel retail brands aren’t utilising widely the opportunity to engage with this captive audience of duty free shoppers via online platforms. And yet, 60% would be more likely to visit the duty free and travel retail shops and 50% would be motivated to make a purchase, if offers and coupons appeared on their smartphones whilst they were at the airport.

There is therefore little doubt that to maximise those opportunities we, as an industry, need to do all that we can to give our customers the support of technologies they enjoy and have come to expect. At present, there is much more that can be done.

To help close this gap, TFWA is launching a new digital exhibition space at the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes in October 2017, the all new TFWA DIGITAL VILLAGE.

TFWA DIGITAL VILLAGE will showcase how digital technologies can boost the travel retail customer experience

This exhibition will provide brands and retailers who are already in the travel retail arena, or those interested in learning more about the sector, with the chance to see the very best creative digital solutions and services. They will be able to learn more about the differences that can be made to customer experiences via the use of digital platforms and find out about technology in loyalty, innovative software and state-of-the-art hardware.

TFWA DIGITAL VILLAGE will also give a broad range of technology companies access to the untapped travel retail market.

All exhibitors at TFWA DIGITAL VILLAGE, whether from the travel retail or technology sectors, will also benefit from the TFWA ONE2ONE meeting service, which allows companies to secure private, pre-scheduled meetings with key industry players.

TFWA DIGITAL VILLAGE will occupy a space of 840m2 and will play host to 30 exhibitors. It will be open to the 12,000 plus delegates, exhibitors and visitors from TFWA World Exhibition & Conference which will take place from the 1st through to the 6th October. The TFWA DIGITAL VILLAGE event will run from Wednesday 4th October until Friday 6th October. It will begin with an opening cocktail at Cannes’ Majestic Hotel on the evening of Tuesday 3rd October. A digital workshop will also be held between 8am and 9am on Tuesday 3rd October at the Majestic Hotel.

We at TFWA believe that it’s our role to promote best practice in the digital arena, identify new potential opportunities and inspire new practices. This event is the first step to building stronger bridges between the duty free and travel retail industry and technology sector to secure an even more prosperous future for the industry.

For more information or for companies interested in exhibiting, please visit

* “The impact of e-commerce, online and mobile technology in duty free & travel retail” conducted by m1nd-set for TFWA, published in September 2016. The full study is available free of charge to TFWA members via