Aer Rianta International (ARI) has long championed the concept of Sense of Place and has partnered with The Moodie Davit Report for our successful column dedicated to the subject. These articles were first published in The Moodie Davitt e-Zine.

INTERNATIONAL. Lagardère Travel Retail brought together three key commercial segments – food & beverage, core category duty free, and convenience – to create what it hopes is a winning combination at Venice Marco Polo Airport.

The official opening of the commercial units in November was also a statement of intent about developing regional (small- and medium-sized) airport businesses internationally.

The World of Venice souvenir store offers a clear link to the beautiful, canal-filled Italian city.

One of the pillars of the retailer’s strategy continues to be Sense of Place; it is vital not just to create the best possible customer experience, but to create one which is unique to the location. As we have seen previously in this column, the realisation of the latter often leads to the former.

Travellers will find local brands and locally-developed concepts right across the new commercial offer at Venice Marco Polo. Lagardère Travel Retail worked closely with joint venture partner SAVE Group, the company managing Venice Marco Polo Airport, to ensure this would be the case.

“The guiding principle was to provide the airport with a unique support, offering the best of Venice and Italy, while adapting to the different and changing customer profiles and catering for all the transformation phases of the airport,” explains Lagardère Travel Retail COO for Europe Middle East and Africa Frédéric Chevalier.

The centrepiece 1,200sq m Aelia Duty Free walk-through store features numerous Italian brands such as Pallini, Bvlgari, Acqua Di Parma, Dolce & Gabbana, Diego Dalla Palma, Trussardi and Armani. There is also clear Venetian inspiration throughout the store, especially in the area of Italian fine food and wines.

“In fine food, Lagardère has interpreted the specifics of the Italian tradition with a dedicated Italian team and dedicated formats. In Venice, the ‘Bottega dei Sapori’ concept is a tangible example of this,” says Lagardère Travel Retail Italy CEO Lucio Rossetto.

Bottega dei Sapori demonstrates how F&B and retail can be complementary to each other.

Bottega dei Sapori, a retail store where passengers can order freshly-made sandwiches, also demonstrates how F&B and retail can be complementary to each other. The sandwiches use ingredients such as cheeses and meats that can be bought at the adjacent delicatessen counter of the shop.

At SAVE’s request, the F&B offers at Venice Marco Polo were developed locally. This not only makes them a better financial option in margin terms, but also gives passengers a genuine feeling of Sense of Place which they often find lacking in larger airports, according to SAVE.

Rossetto expands on this: “Every airport in Italy needs to respond to specific needs and create a unique offer in the eyes of the traveller. The chain and one-size-fits-all approach is no longer possible. Emporio del Grano, Natoo, C. Coffee Lovers and Rustichelli & Mangione are examples of such an approach.”

The familiar Aelia logo at the entrance to the walk-through duty free store.

Rustichelli & Mangione offers a modern twist on traditional Italian cuisine, for example, while C. Coffee Lovers is tailored to a predominantly international target but blended with Italian expertise. Elsewhere, Torrefazione Canareggio is a typical Venetian coffee shop where refined quality blends are the order of the day.

Souvenir store World of Venice offers a clear link to the beautiful, canal-filled Italian city, with locally-produced or locally-famous gift items such as masks and Murano glass objects. “World of Venice is a souvenir-format store that is inspired by Venetian history, craft and culture including sought-after Murano glass,” notes Rossetto.

Lagardère Travel Retail Chairman and CEO Dag Rasmussen says the company is positioning itself as a regional airports expert, among other elements of its strategy. “We know how to create tailor-made solutions using local teams developing local networks. Airports can see that we do a good job this way, and they want to work with us.”

C. Coffee Lovers is tailored to a predominantly international target but blended with Italian expertise.

Forging close partnerships

Poland’s largest duty free retailer Baltona was inspired by the colourful heart of the city when it opened six stores at Wroclaw Airport last year in a total area of 800sq m.

The Flemingo International-controlled retailer was in no way content with churning out a standard offer though. Instead, the goal was to present “a wide range of products tailored to suit our customers’ needs” and “a unique shopping experience that exemplifies the nature of the city”.

This is particularly evident in the innovative Spirit of Poland concept. Here, travellers can pick from a range of regional delicacies from Lower Silesia, local confectionery and other regional deli foods, cheeses, preserves and honeys, local alcohol products and local handicraft. The shop is proving popular with international tourists, who are visiting Wroclaw in growing numbers.

Spirit of Poland offers high-class Polish products, including regional delicacies from Lower Silesia.

Sense of Place also drove the design of the new offer, with The Design Solution drawing on the architectural legacy of the city.

The main store, Wrocław Duty Free, captures the spirit of the thriving city, combining the traditional with the modern. Fashion Boutique incorporates Polish brands such as Vistula and a line of select Polish amber jewellery supplied by S&A into the offer. Zoom presents a range of Polish and international press and books and multimedia and souvenirs, including locally-themed products.

“Wrocław is playing an increasingly important role in the international arena, not only as a major business hub but also as an attractive tourist destination,” says Baltona Duty Free Chief Executive Piotr Kazimierski.

The stores are directly inspired by Wrocław and its colours and forms, he notes. “A modern and carefully selected product portfolio is supposed to reinforce the image of Wrocław Airport and make it stand out against other transport hubs in Poland,” says Kazimierski.

“To achieve this, on a scale unprecedented at regional airports, we decided to focus on local products and close partnership with their manufacturers.”

The main Wrocław Duty Free store merges aspects from the character of the city with a contemporary design.

The Design Solution Director Nick Taylor says his company’s approach to the look and feel of the main store “was to take an aspect from the character of the city and create a contemporary design which feels integrated into the airport’s fabric”.

“At the beginning of the process, we visited Wroclaw and took a tour around this historic city to get a feel for its spirit,” he says. “There are many unique qualities to Wroclaw, from the many bridges over the waterways, to the 250 ‘Krasnoludek’ – a mythological dwarf figurine found in the most unexpected parts of the city.

“Our inspiration was taken from the spirit of the old town square which attracts tourists globally, and is arguably one of the most beautiful in Europe. We created a leitmotif for the stores inspired by the Gothic gable ends of the gothic buildings and the colours from the facades prevalent in the main old town square. From this, the logo of the store was born – Wroclaw Duty Free.

The Design Solution drew on the architectural legacy of the city to create the new offer.

“These ‘facets of colour’ were used to create striking three-dimensional canopies within the stores. We designed a new generation of fixtures for these stores, which give a crisp contemporary look and feel focusing on the product. In the Spirit of Poland shop, Sense of Place was enhanced by using warm stone ’setts’ similar to those found around the city and a local famous pattern from the Bolesławiec region.

“It was important for the designs to have a synergy with the airport, and so we extended the black glass concourse facade and created organic openings to the shopfronts with a reveal of timber ‘ribs’ to give an overall softer entrance feeling.”

Local spirit Down Under

Travellers can “take home a piece of Sydney” or experience the “look and feel of Melbourne” in two compelling recent examples of Sense of Place in Australia.

Although different in scope, specialist travel retailer AWPL’s new Merchant store at Sydney Airport and Melbourne Airport and Stomping Ground Brewing Co.’s giant pop-up beer garden share common aims.

Sense of Place: Introducing Merchant and a new ‘Best of Sydney’ experience.

In Sydney, AWPL’s destination retail concept in Terminal 2 hopes to get shoppers to experience some of the ‘Best of Sydney’. Product categories include gifts and souvenirs, local produce, wine and spirits, skincare, homeware, local art, apparel and toys.

Crucially, the Merchant store spotlights local producers and encourages customers to “take home a piece of Sydney”, according to the retailer. Local brands include chocolate specialist Darrell Lea, BeePower, Bondi Wash, Manly Spirits, Mudgee Wines, Inoko candles, Duck Creek Macadamias and The Rocky Road House.

AWPL has also launched an exclusive souvenir brand, Love Love Australia, at the store.

“A visit to Merchant will form an integral part of the customer journey through Sydney Airport, and further enhance the already strong Sense of Place throughout all three terminals,” says AWPL Head of Merchandise Voula Dimopoulos.

“This celebration of Sydney and its surrounds reflects the growth in demand from domestic and international customers alike for high-quality local products.”

Melbourne Airport’s T3 1/2 offers the “best elements of the city in one place”.

At Melbourne Airport, the goal of setting up a giant pop-up beer garden was to “bring a bit of Melbourne to the airport” in a creative use of empty space, according to Chief of Retail Andrew Gardiner.

The family-friendly attraction sits on around 1,000sq m of otherwise vacant land between terminals 3 and 4, causing it to be dubbed ‘Terminal 3 ½’ (T3 ½). It offers a wide range of locally brewed craft beers on tap, some of Melbourne’s most renowned food truck offers on rotation, and local coffee Proud Mary. The venue has been opened for 18 weeks throughout the Australian summer.

Stomping Ground Brewing Co., from the city’s Collingwood district, has collaborated with Melbourne illustrator and muralist Justine McAllister to develop the new look of T3 ½.

Melbourne Airport first partnered with Stomping Ground last year. “They came in and fitted out a portion of the space, laid down some astroturf, built a pub, and added big-screen TV and deckchairs,” explains Gardiner. “Then every other week they brought in a new food retailer by way of a food truck.

The family-friendly venue offers travellers and others a wide range of locally brewed craft beers on tap, some of Melbourne’s most renowned food truck offers on rotation and local coffee Proud Mary.

“It was a tremendous success. So, again we’re bringing to life here some of the really good food operators from downtown Melbourne. It’s making use of space that is fallow. It’s not so much a money-making venture but really introducing the look and feel of Melbourne – the Sense of Place.”

Throughout summer, visitors, staff and travellers will be able to watch Australia’s major sporting and other events on a large screen. “Melbournians, like all Australians, are sporting-mad and there’s always something happening over summer,” says Gardiner. “People can sit and watch from the deckchairs while enjoying a local craft beer or something from our rotating local food truck offer. We have Mexican, American, Indian food and so on.

“Melbourne is famous for its coffee culture, and one of the famous Melbourne brands is Proud Mary, which we don’t have in our formal areas at the airport. But we do have it at T3 ½. The brand has massive local reach – customers know it and love it.

“For us it’s about being Melbournian and looking after Melbournians. Plus Melbourne artist Justine McAllister has done a very different iteration from last year and created a real vibrancy. Street art in Melbourne is commonplace and it’s forever changing. It’s about bringing the look of Melbourne to the airport, which our customers love.

“You don’t get much more ‘Melbourne’ than craft beer plus food trucks, then throw into the mix bright art and major sporting events and you get all of the best elements of our city in the one place, which makes T3 ½ so appealing.”

Local illustrator and muralist Justine McAllister collaborated with Stomping Ground to develop the new look of T3 1/2.

Harbouring big ideas

“Welcome to Hamburg”. That was Gebr. Heinemann’s simple but effective message in a promotion that ran throughout September and October at the city’s international airport.

In it, Sense of Place was evoked through a variety of events, activations, design features and products as the promotion captured the maritime atmosphere of Heinemann’s hometown. Activities tied in with the things that make Hamburg famous, such as its harbour, its Reeperbahn entertainment district and its reputation for musicals.

The promotional campaign kicked off in attention-grabbing style. A flash mob surprised travellers when they danced to music from Flashdance across the airport plaza to Heinemann’s main duty free store. The musical is based on the cult 1980s film of the same name, which was touring in Germany.

Activations were inspired by Hamburg’s heritage, in particular its waterside status.

In Heinemann’s main shop, Hamburg’s famous harbour was honoured with decorations including thick ships’ ropes and red-and-white life buoys. A main stage reflected the atmosphere of beach clubs by the Elbe river.

Heinemann Duty Free also presented a Gin Sul promotion throughout the campaign period. The handcrafted gin, which has Portuguese roots, is manufactured in a small Hamburg distillery. Travellers could take part in tasting sessions and buy a travel retail-exclusive limited edition.

Travellers could pick up a travel retail-exclusive bottle of Gin Sul, a Hamburg-made gin with Portuguese origins.

Other regional products such as Kemm’ sche Kuchen (a traditional hanseatic cookie) or Helbing Kümmel (a kümmel liqueur made in the Hanseatic tradition of distilling for almost 180 years) could be found on promotional displays designed to look like shipping containers.

Meanwhile, the wine area in Heinemann Duty Free echoed the architecture of the historic Speicherstadt warehouse district, with presentation displays sporting a brickwork look. In the children’s area there were nods to the Dom fair held in Hamburg each year, while the gifting area paid homage to the St. Pauli and Reeperbahn entertainment district.