Harbouring hopes of regional renewal in Hamburg

ACI Hamburg 1 - blog

ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec greets guests to the ACI Trading Conference & Exhibition cocktail on Monday night alongside (right) host Hamburg Airport CEO Michael Eggenschwiler

Hamburg, one of northern Europe’s most attractive port cities, is this week’s venue for one of the region’s key airport commercial events – the ACI Europe Trading Conference & Exhibition.

I’m here with around 300 other delegates – airport commercial directors, leading concessionaires from retail to F&B to advertising and car parking, plus a handful of brand owners – for the 22nd running of what is always a high-quality event, organised by PPS Publications.

The upbeat mood here on Monday, during the day and later at a fabulous opening cocktail at the harbour, hosted by Hamburg Airport, was most welcome. This is an event that takes place amid the backdrop of financial, economic, and in some states, political crisis in Europe, with lacklustre consumer confidence the consequence in many places.

And as if to mirror the external environment, Monday delivered a further blow, with a strike by Lufthansa workers grounding almost the airline’s entire fleet – preventing many people from getting here, at least in the manner they had intended. As conference organisers ourselves, we know only too well the impact that uncontrollable external affairs can have on even the best planned event. The PPS team, to their credit, contacted every delegate and speaker to see how they could assist, and have dealt superbly with a difficult situation. And it now looks as if most delegates will make it here.

ACI Hamburg 2 - blog

Hamburg’s Congress Centre, host to this week’s event

It’s likely to be worth the trip too. We’re going to discuss how, even against the uncertain external backdrop, the industry in Europe can drive penetration and spend. I’m chairing a session later that will cover emerging spending opportunities from the web to changing retail formats to new ways of engaging with the consumer, with contributions from Gatwick Airport, WDF Group, SSP and Kraft Foods World Travel Retail.

To underline the blue-chip nature of the speakers and audience, we’ll also hear from Heathrow Airport, Dubai Airports, Gebr Heinemann, Aéroports de Paris and others – plus there is what should be an intriguing contribution on ‘airline and airport cooperation’ from none other than Ryanair. Expect some fireworks there…

As always the host airport will provide some great social highlights too, including last night’s cocktail at Coast by East/Sansibar at the port; and tonight with the gala dinner at the Historischen Speicherböden in the city.

ACI Hamburg 4 - blog

Hamburg, one of Europe’s great trading cities, is a fitting host for the key ACI Europe commercial event

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