By: Keith Hunter, Hunter Palmer   •   email:

You only need to look at what is happening in Incheon International Airport to understand the effect a particular travelling profile can have on your commercial offer, especially when they suddenly stop flying or using your airport. The Chinese traveller boom has had a profound impact on the Duty Free business in recent years, with most airports and operators intricately shaping their offer to capitalise on the Chinese propensity to spend, particularly on luxury goods. The benefits of getting it right and tailoring the product offer, marketing and digital appeal of an airport when it comes to your key spending profile, are too good to miss.

So while we are scrambling to take Alipay and WeChat Pay…. have we taken our eye off the ball when it comes to other growth areas? Have we become too focused on this profile to the detriment of others? Is there another boom that no one seems to have noticed?

Recently, according to a report by Mastercard, global tourism tracked 120 million Muslim international travellers in 2016, a number expected to reach 158 million by 2020. Even more interestingly, this segment mainly consists of the young twenty-somethings who have an overwhelming desire to travel globally and experience other cultures. Their travelling expenditure is expected to hit US $300 billion by 2026. The overriding question has to be, is anyone focusing on this? Surely, with the opportunity this type of traveller brings, we need to better understand their expectations, making sure that the airport offer actually caters for them?

What we do know is that the Muslim Millennial Traveller (MMT) is actually seeking authentic experiences revolving around Islamic values. Whilst they have the ability to spend (nearly 50% spending between $100−500 on retail purchases whilst traveling) they have certain expectations and habits that should be respected. This is where airports need to assess their offers to make sure they remain relevant to this segment. As a profile, they have a propensity to use social media and blogs for their product reviews, so it is important to they are communicated to in a timely manner, via the right mediums. Also often this segment prefers to pre-plan their trip and their overall travelling experience simultaneously. Another obvious opportunity lies within an airport’s food & beverage offer concerning the availability of Halal food. It seems a simple one, but it is surprising how many outlets fail to consider this requirement.

There is so much more to consider regarding cultural requirements, and whilst we as an industry have been very mindful about the needs and desires of the Chinese traveller, we cannot afford to miss another boom that is going on right under our noses.

Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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