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Sighting inflight opportunities

Supporting its focus on developing the airline channel, William Grant & Sons took part as an exhibitor and sponsor at the recent Airline Retail Conference (ARC) in London for the first time

Andre de Almeida William Grant

“The inflight channel is a priority for William Grant & Sons, although it represents a small percentage of the global travel retail business – and is often a rather maligned channel – we do believe that it offers opportunities for incremental sales and brand building,” explains De Almeida.

He adds that he was encouraged by some of the presentations at ARC, which outlined the significant advantage that airlines have over other channels of distribution in travel retail: “Each airline knows exactly who is travelling before their competition (such as airports). Taking this data alongside the digital possibilities for interaction between the airline, brands and consumer, and airlines could become stand-out sales and passenger experience opportunities.”

WGS has developed a number of unique gifting offers that are exclusive to travel retail and perfect for airlines. These include The Glenfiddich 3 x 5cl, Tullamore Dew 3 x 5cl and Hendrick’s 2 x 5cl packs.

“We know that the majority of consumers will buy their full-size bottles of spirits at the airport; gift packs and fractional bottles, however, open up a totally new opportunity for additional sales,” continues de Almeida, “with miniature gift packs particularly relevant for airlines.”

WGS research has shown that 70% of fractional and miniature packs are in addition to other whisky or spirit purchases. “Miniature packs provide two sales opportunities inflight: they’re the perfect last minute gift for a friend or loved one; perhaps more importantly they encourage new consumers to try whisky and/or encourage exploration of new whiskies and gin.”

“We are very keen to engage more closely with the airline channel, not only to drive our gifting offer but also to look at the brand building opportunities via pouring in the lounge and inflight. Rajiv Bhatia, director for WGS Middle East, Gulf and Indian Subcontinent, is working with a number of key airlines including Aer Lingus, Air India, Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Middle East Airlines and Qatar Airways.

“We are already pouring on Air India, Aer Lingus, Emirates and Qatar and this – plus the touch-points available within the airline lounges – creates excellent opportunities for interacting and engaging with key customers prior to the sales offer.

De Almeida says the ARC gave the company a useful opportunity to further explore the mechanics of the inflight retail channel – and the airline’s approach to it. “It was an interesting exercise and, through our sponsorship of the Best Airline for Inflight Retail award and of the pre and after dinner Gala drinks, gave WGS excellent brand exposure and profile.

“Bhatia and I had some interesting conversations and look forward to taking these to the next stage in coming weeks. For us it is not just about the product but also the associated experience which we can offer the consumer.

“I think one of the key ways moving forward is for airlines and retailers to look at how they can work together rather than against each other. For me, one of the most interesting presentations was DDF president George Horan’s outline of how they are working with Emirates Airlines to maximize commercial relationships between retail operations on the ground and in the air. It can and does work and we at WGS are very keen to be part of that process.”

WGS sponsored the ARC Best Airline for Inflight Retail Award (won by KLM) and the Gala pre-dinner and after-dinner cocktails with Monkey Shoulder and Hendrick’s Gin.

Pictured above L-R – Rajiv Bhatia (WGS director –Middle East, Gulf and Indian Subcontinent), Andre de Almeida (WGS director - Europe Travel Retail) and Emma Humphreys, WGS regional marketing manager Europe

22 June 2015