Promoting partnership, not beauty contests

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

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Today’s announcement by Zürich Airport that it has extended the contract terms of its key commercial partners is highly significant, not just in contractual terms but also because of the way it was articulated.

The airport’s Chief Commercial Officer Peter Eriksson (below) has quietly emerged as one of the most influential figures within the international travel retail community.

He has been at the heart of much of the ‘Trinity’ debate in recent years, being one of the first to realise that Trinity was not an alternative business model but a process for debate and progress in which all industry stakeholders should participate.

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It is no surprise that some of the best recent Trinity initiatives, often involving shared investment between airport, concessionaire and brands, have come out of Zürich Airport.

Last year’s brilliant ‘Taste of Switzerland’ campaign was a prime example – a combined airport-wide promotion that benefitted all parties in image and financial terms, as well as educating and entertaining the travelling consumer.

For years, airport retailers have been expressing similar sentiments to those outlined by Peter Eriksson this morning on contract durations and the frustration of the all too regular ‘blind auction’.

His comments must therefore come as music to many sets of ears in the business and they stand repeating here. Zürich Airport said that its partnership approach had not only resulted in a considerable upgrading of the airport’s retail activities but that temporary downturns, such as the 2009 financial crisis, could thus be better managed, because risks and rewards were being shared.

In words that one suspects will be quoted many times at industry conferences (particularly The Trinity Forum) in years to come, Eriksson said: “The classical ‘beauty contest’ which often occurs in tender processes, is not the smartest way to get what you want – in my opinion.”

He prefaced that observation by saying: “If you are not by legislation obliged to go through (expensive and time-consuming) tender processes, and if you have a professional team with profound travel retail knowledge (including knowledge of commercial potential per category) in place, it is advisable to seek and negotiate direct with your preferred commercial partners.

“This way you get what you really look for and stay in control during the selection process, without formal hurdles and with high flexibility.”

Seminal words. A seminal moment. To those dyed in the wool critics of the Trinity concept – and there are many – today’s news underlines the power of partnership, the importance of dialogue, and the need for strong industry leaders.

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