The inaugural China Travel Retail event formally began in Shanghai on 24th July, 2012.
The inaugural China Travel Retail event formally began in Shanghai yesterday, with strong presentations from a number of leading Chinese airports among the highlights.
Around 190 delegates, marked by a refreshingly dominant proportion of Chinese delegates, attended day one of the event, which is co-organised by UK company Ink and Chinese company GIS Events. 
The morning session began brightly, with contributions from Shanghai Hong Kong Management Co Board Member Michael Yuen and Haikou Meilan International Airport Duty Free Shop Vice Chairman & General Manager Wang Yong Fan. 
Michael Yuen: A dynamic commercial focus at Shanghai Hongqiao
Yuen outlined Shanghai Hongqiao’s ambitions to be recognised as “the airport with the best shopping experience in China” and underlined the big efforts it has made to grow its commercial business. The challenge, he said, at a mainly domestic airport, was encouraging domestic travellers to spend, given the stiff competition from other airports and downtown shopping, and with commercial dwell times relatively short (20 minutes on average).
To compete, he noted, the airport had to make commercial a priority, which it had not been in the past. He said that some merchants (concessionaires) needed to improve their management of retail and enhance their ranges, and the airport had to communicate better to make them understand the airport’s priorities.
In a candid presentation, Yuen said that improving the image of the airport among consumers was critical, as was developing consistent store design and ensuring consistent pricing. He also noted how Hongqiao (aided by the influence of partner Airport Authority Hong Kong) was becoming an active, hands-on airport company rather than a passive landlord as in the past.
He also outlined the company’s next phase of expansion, which will include six new stores in 1,300sq m of space, which should open by late 2012. The company has just completed a stage of inviting bidders to submit offers, he said.
Haikou Meilan International Airport Duty Free Shop Vice Chairman & General Manager Wang Yong Fan underlined his company’s ambitions in the Hainan Island market
Haikou Meilan’s Wang Yong Fan profiled the potential of the ‘offshore duty free’ business on Hainan Island. The company has just received approval, he said, to extend its commercial space by 4,000sq m at the airport. “We will have the largest watch shop at an Asian airport and a number of new concepts,” he said.
To maximise the impact of the new space, the company will redesign its stores in areas A and B, introduce new brands and de-list less popular brands.
Importantly, he also said the company was preparing to open at Sanya Airport on Hainan Island, with space set to be even bigger than that at Haikou Meilan. Plus it is applying for a downtown licence, he added.
Another Chinese Airport, Xi’an Xianyang, was represented by Chief Operating Officer Wolfgang Weil, who spoke openly about the challenges of designing a commercially driven terminal (at its new T3, which opened in May) and about the poor price perception that many consumers had of Chinese airports.
Airports in China, he noted, needed to commit to early planning of commercial areas to help raise the standard of the business – and tackle perceptions of price by maintaining consistency and promoting good offers.
There were other good contributions from SSP Director Chris Rayner and Trinity Group Chief Marketing Officer David Au on partnerships in China, plus a solid session on brand-building and airport advertising from JCDecaux China Airports CEO Thierry Bardoux alongside Folli Follie Vice President International Johnnie Voutsas.
The day ended strongly, with a powerful presentation on the role of Chinese passengers in driving the fortunes of The Shilla Duty Free and of Korean travel retailers, led by Shilla’s Executive Vice President Head of Duty Free Division Jason Cha.
The day concluded with pre-arranged buyer meetings with suppliers, followed by a reception sponsored by Champagne Laurent Perrier and a gala dinner cruise along the famous Bund area of Shanghai, courtesy of Diageo Global Travel & Middle East. The Moodie Report’s Martin Moodie and Dermot Davitt are moderating the conference.
Wolfgang Weil: Design and pricing perceptions were among the big challenges to overcome in developing Xi’an Airport’s new Terminal 3
Chris Rayner: Brought an F&B perspective
David Au: Putting the emphasis on the lure of luxury
Martin Moodie (standing) leads a panel that included Chris Rayner and David Au
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