Turning the ARC light on Asian inflight retail

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The first ARC Asia Airline Retail Conference began on Tuesday in Macau’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. It’s a project that aims to turn the spotlight on Asian airlines and inflight concessionaires, as well as brands targeting the Asia inflight business.

It’s a regional event that should have good prospects, given the engine room of global travel that Asia Pacific is proving itself post-recession. This year will prove a vital testing ground for travel retail’s newest event in what is already a packed calendar, and the market of course will decide what kind of future it has.   

With around 150 registered delegates this week, plus 21 exhibitors, it’s been a decent first outing. As ever with these events, it will stand or fall by the quality of retailer/buyer delegates. This event had some though by no means all of the region’s key players – the Chinese carriers have been absent, and gaining their support would represent a notable coup for the future. Korean carriers too would be a solid addition.

Against that, the involvement of airlines such as Lufthansa/SWISS and Finnair underlines how vital the Asian consumer is for Europe-based airlines, and gives a broader dimension to the event.

The programme on day one had its highlights (as seen from the moderator’s chair), notably ISG Hong Kong chief Tony Detter’s (pictured below) insights into the China market, a solid opening address from Scental GM Olivier Dubos on the Asian beauty opportunity, an insight into partnership from DFASS and Diageo, plus an excellent panel seesion with Dragonair’s Cecilia Leung and Lufthansa’s Peter Pullem on how to choose the perfect product range.

With a day to go (we’ll report more fully on the event online soon) it’s a solid basis for this new industry event, and one that could well become a regular fixture in the calendar in the years ahead.

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