Buzz flight year to the rescue

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

I’ve just opened my EK087 (Emirates) Interim Bureau, at an altitude of 39,636 feet en route from Dubai to Zürich. It’s exactly the route I took 18 days ago before heading back to Dubai and on to Vietnam where I’ve just spent nine enthralling days in Ho Chi Minh City. It feels like déjà vu though I’ve a feeling I have said that before.

I flew out of Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City last night and it was encouraging to see how busy it was. There were a lot of Korean and Japanese passengers in particular as well as departing Vietnamese. Having been shuttered for so long, most of the stores are still gearing up – stocks are a challenge here as in many global locations – but at least several are trading as inbound and outbound tourism picks up.

The flight information display screen always tells its own story. Note all the flights to South Korea and Japan.
The packed Korean Air check-in zone

The wine offer looked pretty basic at first sight…
… until I took a closer look at the labels. Clearly during normal times, the airport sees plenty of high spenders, probably Chinese in this case.
More evidence of the traditonal importance of Chinese shoppers. Hopefully they will return in strong numbers in 2023.

Vietnam is home to some of the world’s most delicious cuisine but international fast food favourite Burger King is the number-one brand for the HMSHost/IPP Travel Retail partnership
Sometimes simple messaging works best: ‘Not available in any plane’

I had a four-hour transit at Dubai International Airport (DXB), enough time to relax in a very crowded Emirates lounge and to check out a few stores and F&B outlets. I bought a bottle of Hunter’s Chardonnay from Marlborough, New Zealand – one of my go to wines on the road – at Dubai Duty Free and a Skross travel adaptor as back-up to my old and trusty one that looks just about ready to give up. Every spend helps I reckon in getting our industry back where it belongs.

Not quite a gold rush yet but both passenger traffic and spending are rising fast at DXB

 DXB’s diverse food & beverage offer appears to be doing really well. Pictured above and below are some of Lagardère-HWH Travel Retail’s FAB Award-winning concepts.

These two boutiques from Bvlgari fragrances and Le Clos premium wines & spirits are neatly positioned right outside the Business Class Lounge

Another great expression of the Le Clos concept
Great visual impact here in Terminal 3 from Adidas (right) and Victoria’s Secret in Pink

Nice to see my colleague (and fellow Kiwi) Colleen Morgan’s book Throw me a Smile still selling well with Dubai Duty Free. The book details her daughter Lucy’s gruelling but ultimately successful battle with a rare childhood cancer. I published it as Moodie Media back in 2015 and it has repeatedly sold out here.

‘Adapt to the world’ reads the rather nice Skross tag line, one that I could perhaps apply to myself as I enter day 28 of my first international trip in ten months. However, I will settle for ‘final call’ instead as once again that was my flight status by the time I finished shopping and taking photos and reached my gate.

I’m travelling to Zürich for the grand opening ceremony on Tuesday of The Estée Lauder Companies’ state of the art distribution centre in nearby Galgenen, which – coming back to stock issues – will play a critical role in servicing the travel retail supply chain. It promises to be a glittering affair, attended by many of the US beauty group’s retail clients. I have not seen since many of them before the pandemic began and it will be very good to catch up.

Having visited six airports on this trip to date – Hong Kong International, Hamad International, DXB, Zürich, King Khalid International Airport (Riyadh), and Tan Son Nhat International Airport – I have seen with my own eyes the strength of the air travel and shopping recovery (Hong Kong currently the sad exception though I believe things will turn for the better there in Q1 2023 and hopefully maybe even Q4 2022).

There is a definite buzz in the air and unlike my favourite character from Toy Story this buzz will not crash to earth straight after take-off. Certainly the consumer mood and industry sentiment are light years away from those that prevailed when I last travelled internationally in July 2021.

I’m definitely experiencing that buzz during what I hope has kicked off a whole year of flight for me rather than one of being grounded as I had been most of the previous 12 months. That’s what I call a rallying call to banish the COVID blues. Buzz flight year to the rescue.