TFWA’s new digital exhibition to build a bridge between travel retail and technology

In our digital age, smartphones, tablets and social media have rapidly evolved from the toys of a tech-savvy few to an essential part of everyday life for us all and a first choice for communicating with the brands, retailers and any other organisation consumers choose to do business with. It is therefore becoming increasingly important for all those hoping to build a meaningful dialogue with their customers to look for new ways to engage via digital platforms.

The travel market is also changing, with larger numbers of people every year jet setting off around the world, whether it be for business or leisure, and more people than ever are incorporating the use of technology into these trips.

“Travel retail, meaning selling to people on the move, whether that’s at airports, on cruise ships or outside Europe at international border crossings, is in many ways no different to high street retail,” said Erik Juul-Mortensen, president of the world’s largest duty free and travel retail organisation, Tax Free World Association (TFWA). “Travelling consumers are more connected than ever, especially with the increasing numbers of millennial travellers now dominating the market. Research commissioned by TFWA* into the use of technology within the industry shows that 88% of all passengers travel with a smartphone, 80% of people take a laptop with them on business trips and 55% of people travelling for leisure will take a tablet with them on holiday.”

It comes as little surprise that of the 4,000 people surveyed, 62% of business trips and 70% of leisure trips are booked through the airline’s website and one in five people use a smartphone app for booking their flights. However, what is surprising is that retail brands don’t seem to be utilising the technological resources at their disposal to reach this branch of the market.

According to TFWA’s research, approximately 60% of travellers say they would be more motivated to visit the duty free shops if they had come across coupons, offers and vouchers for duty free products, and about 50% think it would motivate them to make a purchase. So why aren’t technology companies and those involved in travel retail doing more to meet this need?

In response to the need for a stronger bond between the travel retail and technology industries, TFWA is this year hosting TFWA DIGITAL VILLAGE, an exhibition to showcase creative digital solutions alongside its week-long, global gathering TFWA World Exhibition & Conference held annually in Cannes, in the south of France.

Retail brands will have the opportunity to see what the technology sector has to offer, with the very best in areas such as loyalty schemes, innovative software and state-of-the-art hardware to enhance customer experiences and reach additional consumers out in force on the exhibition floor.

The exhibition will also give the technology sector the chance to showcase its offers to a significant retail industry, which was recently valued by research specialist Generation at a huge $62 billion USD, and is expected to increase further to $120 billion by 2025.

All exhibitors will also gain access to the TFWA ONE2ONE meeting service which allows participating companies to secure private, pre-scheduled meetings with key industry players.

“The time has come for the travel retail and technology sectors to come together and share what they can offer one another,” continues Erik Juul-Mortensen. “This new event is a practical way to move the duty free and travel retail sector forward to a new era, the future of which is undoubtedly digital.”

* “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

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