Travel retail no longer such a Lonely Planet

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


Sometimes an idea comes along that is so good that one is tempted to ask why no-one thought of it earlier.

Sometimes a retail concept comes along that has ‘winner’ emblazoned all over it.

Both propositions apply in the case of a new partnership between travel retailer Lagardère Services Asia Pacific and Lonely Planet, the independent travellers’ guide specialist.

Lagardère Services Asia Pacific has championed some of the best concepts in travel retail and it is one of the few retailers that pays more than lip service to the oft-abused concept of Destination Merchandise.

It already runs the neatly named ‘Discover’ brand at Melbourne Airport (and is adding Cairns Airport this year), which attempts to draw a genuinely emotional experience between the travellers’ experiences and the retail offer.

Kaboom is another innovative concept – one that stimulates creative learning for children via books, toys, multi-media and puzzles. 

Such concepts represent intelligent travel retailing in a sector that is often too dumbed down and homogenous for its own good.

But we think that Lonely Planet will be the biggest of the lot by some distance. The pioneering partnership will bear fruit in the form of a 90sq m interactive store within the revamped international terminal at Sydney Airport (where a whole lot of exciting retail thinking is going on). It’s a great coup for the New South Wales gateway to host the first-ever Lonely Planet store and a nice manifestation – as Lagardère Services Asia Pacific was quick to point out – of the ‘Trinity’ concept, involving airport, retailer and brand.

We liked Lagardère Services Asia Pacific CEO’s Scott Raisin’s comments too. “Our vision,” he said, “was to create a dynamic travel retail offer with an intrinsic link to the very act of travel itself.”

Beautifully put. The great American travel writer Paul Theroux once wrote (in The Old Patagonian Express): “The journey’s the thing”, as he bemoaned the modern-day obsession with the destination rather than the old-fashioned love of getting there. Lonely Planet and Lagardère Services Asia Pacific are helping to restore some of the lustre to the journey. 

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