Thumb_ARI_LogoINTERNATIONAL. Aer Rianta International (ARI) has long championed the concept of Sense of Place and has partnered with The Moodie Davit Report to continue our successful column dedicated to the subject. Here, ARI Brand & Communications Manager Adrian Fennell assesses what Sense of Place means to the retailer. This article was first published in The Moodie Davitt e-Zine.

Sense of Place is a concept that our industry holds dear. Every second RFP calls on retailers to ‘imbue their design with a Sense of Place’. Every new opening trumpets the Sense of Place that has been achieved through their design.

ARI Abu Dhabi_ArabianPerfume

ARI’s P&C category at Abu Dhabi International Airport evokes a strong Sense of Place inspired by the story of the Arabian Perfume Route and the influence of Oudh on many international brands

But how often can we say that our efforts really resonate with the travelling public? Are the majority oblivious to our efforts and only interested in whiling away their airport downtime glued to their phones? Or can a Sense of Place be the catalyst for passengers to capture one last memory of the destination where they enjoyed a great holiday, a successful business trip, or an unforgettable visit with a loved one?

We sincerely hope it’s the latter, and are convinced of its importance in stemming the current tide of passenger apathy.


The Irish Memories souvenir concept features iconic Irish street furniture, a traditional phone box and a fully restored old post box

ARI has always championed the concept of Sense of Place and we’re excited about partnering with The Moodie Davitt Report to highlight examples of where it’s done well across the industry. As travel retailers we’re all invested in growing the reputation of our channel and differentiating it from the relentless high street and online competitors.

Achieving a Sense of Place amidst a sea of globally recognisable brands is no mean feat. But done well it can give jaded passengers pause for thought, entice them to explore the entire retail area, and make a final ‘connection’.

A Sense of Place is not confined just to superb design and architectural flights of fancy – which are great in theory but quite often not practicable in smaller locations. It also extends to showcasing local produce and souvenirs with finesse, as we have done with Irish Memories and our Kypriaka – ‘Products of Cyprus’ – store which encapsulates the traditions, tastes and aromas of the proud island nation.

Kypriaka Cyprus

‘Kypriaka’ means ‘Products of Cyprus’ and ARI aims to encapsulate the traditions, tastes and aromas of the island nation in the Cyprus Airports Duty Free concept

Similarly our tailor-made liquor concepts – The Irish Whiskey Collection, The Wine Goose Chase and the Caribbean Rum Collection – provide customers with an experience that is both unique and local. The appeal of these stores helps lure passengers across the retail threshold, where we can engage with them and quite often up sell and crosssell to them.

On a grander scale our award-winning design for Montréal Duty Free evokes a strong Sense of Place inspired by the rugged Canadian landscape. We have also gone to great lengths to capture the essence of Arabian heritage in our designs for both Abu Dhabi and Muscat.

Montreal (1)

De-barked pine tree trunks and thin white lighting strip fixtures symbolising branches are representative of Canada at The Loop Duty Free Montréal

By sponsoring this column we want to keep this vital concept top of mind and applaud the efforts of retailers, suppliers and indeed airports in furthering the cause.

As we’re all well aware, every new consumer study highlights the growing trend towards disposable income being spent on experiences rather than material goods. Could a genuine and memorable Sense of Place offer this new breed of consumer the best of both worlds?

Caribbean Rum Collection

The Caribbean Rum Collection at Barbados International Airport pays homage to the local tradition of rum making and, according to ARI, features the largest selection of authentic Caribbean rums in airport retail