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I’ve arrived in Orlando for the annual Duty Free Show of the Americas.
From Manila it was 24 hours at home and then on to Gatwick Airport to fly here for the annual IAADFS-run exhibition. I feel like a world explorer, a cross between Magellan and Columbus.
My body clock tells me its approaching midnight (I’m still in Manila mode) but it’s midday. What a life we lead in travel retail.
Orlando Airport (pictured above) may be a modern, gleaming gateway to Florida but some of its immigration staff act as if they are inducting new inmates to the local penitentiary. I felt I was an extra on the set of The Shawshank Redemption. When the immigration officer asked for my details I was tempted to say “I’m Morgan Freeman”, but I felt it may not go down too well.
Tourists are the lifeblood of the state economy and are effectively paying those immigration officers’ wages, something they might care to note. If a seasoned traveller like me feels intimidated entering the US, what does it feel like for a first-timer? Still, I suppose compared to Newark, it’s like being welcomed to a luxury resort…
Each time I visit an airport I’m now going to single out five talking points, good, bad or ugly. Below are my choices from Gatwick North Terminal.
1) THE LONDON NEWS COMPANY: Having noted a tired, ugly WHSmith store at one end of the terminal, I came across this outlet below and my first reaction was ‘Wow’.
This is what a news-to-books (with plenty inbetween) store should look like. Bright, accessible, a good mix of products, clearly segmented, a self-service option. To my discredit, I didn’t know who owned The London News Company (or the adjacent London Books Company), so I asked a friendly staff member. “WHSmith,” she replied, “It’s our new branding.”
I told her what a marked contrast this was with the WHSmith branded store. “Yes, that will be refurbished next,” she said.
I’ve been tough on WHSmith in this Blog on occasions. So it’s important to acknowledge what a tremendous transformation this represents and what a great addition to the Gatwick retail offer it is.
2) DIXON’S TRAVEL: I shop at Dixon’s almost every time I am at an airport (because I always forget them, I am now officially the world’s biggest collector of power adaptors…) and am constantly impressed with the range, display and brisk but friendly, efficient and knowledgeable staff. Look how busy the store is in this photo. I suspect that is almost always the case.
3) JO MALONE: There’s nothing not to like about this gorgeous boutique that would not look out of place in London’s Bond Street. It’s spacious, beautifully merchandised, bright, vibrant and full of wonderful products.
This boutique was named one of the two best specialty stores in World Duty Free Group’s recent ‘Best Store Standards’ competition and you can easily see why.
4) ESTÉE LAUDER ADVERTISING: I’ve noted in recent Blogs how Estée Lauder is using the whole airport concourse to communicate with the traveller throughout the journey and Gatwick is another example. Here’s two shots, one in the check-in hall, one below a flight information display screen airside. It’s a clever move by Lauder and a prime example of how to raise brand visibility with the travelling public.
5) World Duty Free watches department: Both main World Duty Free stores at Gatwick North are pretty good but this area, adjacent to the bigger outlet, lets the side down. To me it just loooks cheap.
OTHER IMAGES OF GATWICK
[Boots: This outlet shows that convenience retailing does not have to be mediocre. Spacious layout, well-stocked, fast service.]
[Caviar House & Prunier: An oasis of culinary calm in a hectic travel world. Consistently one of the world’s great airport food & beverage offers]
[Lacoste: Bright, open, enticing]
[World Duty Free: Open, alluring, great sightlines, strong brand pulling power]
[World of Whiskies: In any top ten list of the world’s best airport specialist outlets, I challenge you not to include it]
[Zubrovka anyone?: Just a simple tasting promotion for Zubrowkva vodka but I noted how well (and charmingly) the promoter used the terminal space to welcome passengers into the store for a sample]