ESTONIA. Tallink Grupp recently presented awards to its most innovative and responsive brand/distribution partners at a special supplier conference.

Two inspirational speakers also offered their take on the duty free and travel retail ferry channel at the event organised by the Baltic ferry and short-cruise operator.

Director of Business Development Magnus Skjörshammer said all suppliers were VIPs

Held on Thursday (7 September), the event gave suppliers the opportunity to experience the new two-level travel retail store on Tallink’s latest vessel, Megastar, from Tallinn to Helsinki. Guests returned on Tallink’s largest ship, the 3,000-plus vessel Europa, in the evening when the conference and awards took place.

Hosts Aimar Pärna, Managing Director of Tallink Duty Free, and Magnus Skjörshammer, Director of Business Development, were keen to stress the vital contribution that suppliers made to the business. Retail and restaurant operations accounted for 56% of Tallink’s €938 million/US$1,117 million total revenue in 2016, a higher share than has been seen in recent years. This makes it the world’s biggest duty free and travel retail ferry business.

Addressing an audience of about 200 suppliers from all categories in Europa’s large-capacity auditorium, Skjörshammer said: “Without you we wouldn’t be anywhere. All our suppliers are VIPs in our mind.”

Australian futurist Kristina Dryža offered her insights on the cruise and ferry market

Before the presentation of the awards, two speakers made presentations. Australian futurist Kristina Dryža, the Global Director, Trends & Futures at House of Brand Group, offered her insights on the cruise and ferry market and the implications for the duty free and travel retail business.

She said that travel was morphing and that “guests want to be immersed in a variety of entertainment options to create a customised cruise experience”. She also saw more passengers becoming “pilgrims” and gaining insights and truths about themselves when travelling rather than simply seeing the sights. They are interested in “collecting moments and not things” – something she called “transformational travel”.

Raul Rebane shared some secrets of good management

Total immersion

“For duty free and travel retail this means creating a stronger emotional bond by moving beyond product to social interaction,” Dryža said, citing electronics retailer Capi’s tie-up with Philips for a pop-up barbershop offering travellers at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport a shaving and grooming experience to remember.

She said that travellers were now looking for “total immersion marketing” of the type that brands like Hennessy and Guinness have offered with their XXO pop-up at Singapore Changi Airport with DFS, and Guinness Export House at Dublin Airport, respectively. She said that such premiumisation and sensorial activities tied to mentoring enhanced engagement.

A number of awards were presented to Tallink’s suppliers

Dryža was also clear that digital has a major role – for Millennials in particular – in terms of creating sharable moments in-store via social media. She said that leveraging such media was going to be used increasingly by brands, with travelling turning people into storytellers. “They’ll tell the story about your brand,” she explained, assuming brands create the authenticity that consumers expect.

Ethical leadership

Next up was Raul Rebane, a well-known TV personality and sports presenter in Estonia who became a consultant, teacher and strategy adviser in 1999, and also the team manager for discus thrower Gerd Kanter from 2000-2012.

Rebane’s fascinating story was essentially about the secrets of good management. In this case it was the management of Kanter which he cheekily described as “mission impossible” because of the hurdles that existed at the outset of the project. These were Kanter’s age (21 – considered old) as well as the fact he had no discus of his own and no coach but clear evidence of talent.

Magnus Skjörshammer and Aimar Pärna award Reijo Widerholm from Ritmeester Cigars

Rebane says that a flexible formula which rested on a three-legged stool of Kanter’s throwing ability, the professionalism of his team, and the wish of the nation to have winners brought about the right results: today Kanter has 12 medals to his name including Olympic and world championship golds, as well as the third-best throw of all time.

“Every person is different. Make the process happy,” Rebane said. “And you will get the result.” A key point that he also stressed was that “ethical leadership was strong leadership”.

And the winners are…

Completing the auditorium activities, before a night of dining and dancing, was the awards ceremony. A total of 16 winners in a number of product categories were announced (listed below).

From left, Tallink Duty Free Beverage Manager Nele Nedaškovskaja with speakers Raul Rebane and Kristina Dryža

In addition three special awards were presented to individuals for their long-term services to, and cooperation with, Tallink. The recipients were: Reijo Widerholm from Ritmeester Cigars for “his personal support, kind heart and wonderful sense of humour”; Markku Komulainen, Purchasing Manager Duty Free (Tallink Silja OY) whose “youthful spirit and open-minded attitude” was described as “irreplaceable”; and Kristel Kikas-Strandberg from beauty house Coty for her long-term “dedication, conscientiousness and professionalism”.

Brand/distributor/agent Category
Ritmeester Cigars Tobacco
Sinebrychoff Beer, cider, long drinks
A. Le Coq Beer, cider, long drinks
Altia Travel Retail International alcohol and wines
Rémy Cointreau International alcohol and wines
L’Oréal Beauty
Rituals Beauty
Arvid Nordquist Finland Wines
Karia Food
Grönsakshallen Sorunda Food
Conaxess Trade Confectionery
Fazer Confectionery Confectionery
Tommy Hilfiger Finland Fashion/accessories
Kotiverkko Eesti Fashion/accessories
EasyZone Fashion/accessories
Meira (representing Segafredo) Coffee