‘Mentorship’ momentum

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The ‘Mentorship Experience’ might not trip lightly off the tongue as a phrase, but based on the openings weeks of the concept’s installation at Dubai International Airport, it’s a project that could pave the way for future ‘Trinity’ style industry collaboration.

In brief, this new initiative between Diageo GTME, Dubai Duty Free and Dubai Airports Company has created the first ever alcohol sampling event at the regional hub. The ‘Mentorship Experience’ provides the shopper with a tailored, private, one-to-one tutorial of Diageo’s portfolio of luxury brands – all housed in a sleek black ‘pod’ in the middle of the concourse in T3 (pictured).

Dubai Mentorship1 blog

Because of the sensitivity around alcohol trial in the emirate, the branding is minimal, the exterior is part-mirrored, and the unit ensures privacy for the shopper, with the concourse visible through a one-way glass ‘window’.

With an eye on the core target market of premium travellers (and spenders), the ‘pod’ lies close to the Emirates’ lounges, and it relies initially on the visual impact of the unit to draw their initial interest. A uniformed hostess registers the guest for an appointment, including discreetly assessing their suitability and ensuring that they understand that alcohol sampling is included in the experience.

Given the sensitivity around alcohol, the out-of-shop concourse location and the proximity to the lounges, this was an activation that required serious input and hard bargaining from four parties: brand owner, duty free retailer, airport and a fourth addition to the existing ‘Trinity’, Emirates Airline.

Earning that buy-in from the carrier was critical to the project, as Hugo Mills, Gulf Regional Director Diageo GTME, acknowledged: “With strong support from Dubai Airports Company, we engaged with Emirates at a senior level to ensure that they fully understood our aims and they were fully supportive, and that was a vital boost to the initiative. In fact, an Emirates executive was the first invitee to be offered the Mentorship Experience.”

That collaboration between each of the industry stakeholders has got to play a role in enhancing the travel experience for the customer into the future, added Dubai Airports’ CEO Paul Griffiths.

“Our aim is to give the traveller and shopper the best possible experience but that aim can only be achieve by ensuring that every stakeholder is fully engaged,” he said.

“As an airport, we get a better passenger offer and gain status as a credible international destination offering an innovative and unique experience. The airline gains from a broader range of goods and services that enhance the traveller’s overall perception of the whole journey and experience. Diageo gains fabulous exposure for its brands and with the retailer (Dubai Duty Free), gains from the enhanced shopper experience and the resulting boost to sales.”

“There needs to be far more partnership and engagement across all parties and I find it difficult to understand why barriers continue to exist between parties that invest so strongly in their aim to satisfy the customer and yet they continue to fail to cooperate in a shared strategy that would be more effective in achieving that common aim, and almost certainly more profitable, for all concerned. I think this project is the catalyst for significant change and I’m sure that we will see radical new approaches across the categories.”

Whether this initiative becomes a template and a catalyst for action, only time will tell. But it’s a project that should make brand owner, retailers, airport landlords – and yes, airlines too – sit up and take notice of what it’s possible to achieve in the airport environment.

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