I’m at 38,000 feet above the Banda Sea, Indonesia on CX (Cathay Pacific) 104, four hours and a few minutes out of Hong Kong after a whistlestop trip down to Melbourne, Australia.
I’m quite pleased it is only four hours for the last 90 minutes or so have been among the bumpiest I have witnessed since first watching Airplane!, the 1980 film comedy directed by David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, starring the inimitable Leslie Nielsen.
Fortunately ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) is not at the controls and despite the turbulence causing a ffffffffffffew typos as I writtttttttttte, it looks as though we’ll be backccccccccccck in Hong Kong safe and sound. Provided, that is, there’s no equivalent at Hong Kong International Airport of tower supervisor Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges in his finest hour) to activate an inflatable autopilot called Otto. Surely that won’t happen? Of course it won’t but stop calling me Shirley!
Stewardess Elaine (speaking on the PA): “There is no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your flight…. And by the way – is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?”
Actually as I type, things have calmed down a lot so as it’s nearly 9pm in Melbourne I may ask for a glass of chilled white wine – a nice choice between a Framingham Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand or a Jean-Marc Brocard Petit Chablis from Burgundy, France. Choices eh? What can a man do?
Then again, after perusing the list, maybe I should order a Campari and soda in honour of the Italian group’s most brilliant – in every sense – initiative that brought me to Melbourne over the past couple of days.
I’m talking about the pioneering Aperol experiential shop-in-shop in global travel retail, located in a prime position at Lotte Duty Free’s expansive Melbourne Airport walk-through store. The initiative honours Aperol’s renewed long-term partnership with the Australian Open, a Grand Slam tennis event which runs from 14 to 28 January.
I see a lot of activations, ranging from the bland to the vivid, and this one I assure you registers very high on the travel retail equivalent of the Richter scale.
Everything is right here. The positioning (directly at the end of the walk-through so you can see the promotion from distance before turning left into the luxury avenue); the colour (as vivid as a Sicilian orange grove); the scale (an impressive 55sq m); the combination of digital and human engagement; and of course the product proposition itself (remember this simple mantra for the perfect Aperol Spritz serve, ‘3 – 2 – 1’, i.e. 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part soda water. Do NOT stir. And most certainly do not shake).
I’ll let the pictures tell the story. A warning, however. Put on your sunglasses first.
I was trying to look inconspicuous as I flew out of Melbourne Airport today but I guess the fact that I was taking a zillion photos on my iPhone made that impossible. That and the fact I had met many of the Lotte Duty Free the day before – and on my last visit in November 2017 when then-incumbent Dufry was celebrating the opening of its second ‘New Generation’s store.
What a marvellous team they are too. Just as in arrivals two days earlier, the Lotte Duty Free team (thank you Alison, Eva and Antonina) had each reminded me of my full inbound allowance (I only bought one bottle but made up for it on the way out), and offered me a shopping basket as soon as I entered the store, the crew were engaging, helpful and knowledgeable. Can you ask for more?
A big shout-out too to the team from Jo Traikos Promotions, the fabulous agency that as mentioned carries the name of its founder, the equally fabulous and eternally ebullient Jo Traikos (pictured below, sixth from right in near Aperol hues).
I swear there were more wines & spirits samplings per square metre going on today than I have previously seen (or tasted) in a duty free store and with great interaction also on the beauty side, it’s little wonder that penetration rates here are encouraging.
Days like these remind me of the joy of my job – I was fatigued as hell on arrival after a long flight and a non-stop schedule over recent weeks – and make me realise just how lucky and privileged I am in my choice, or destiny, of profession. ✈