Technology top of mind

27/07/2017 If duty free and travel retail has until recently been hesitant to embrace digital technology, the industry is now making up for lost time. To help accelerate the process, this year’s TFWA World Exhibition & Conference (1-6 October in Cannes) will have a strong digital flavour.


Tech looms large from the start with David Rowan among the guest speakers at Monday’s Conference. Rowan is editor at large of Wired UK, the award-winning technology and trends magazine, and he will look at how traveller behaviour is increasingly shaped by technological change. Joining him on the podium will be fellow keynotes Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary General, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, as well as TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen. The high-tech theme continues on Tuesday morning with a ‘Digital Focus’ Workshop (8:00-9:00am in the Majestic Hotel’s Salon Croisette). Exploring the latest digital marketing techniques aimed at travellers, the session will feature contributions from Adil Rahani of the Blueprint Partnership, specialists in rethinking airport retail, Stéphanie Metz-Thevenod of leading retailer Lagardère Travel Retail, and Lewis Allen of Portland Design, whose Strategic Insights Unit will shortly publish ‘The Digital Journey’, the second in a series of TFWA Monitor reports.


Wednesday sees the opening of TFWA Digital Village, duty free and travel retail’s first-ever showcase for digital technology. Running alongside TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in every sense, the Digital Village comprises around 30 exhibitors at the Gare Maritime working in travel-related disciplines like geolocation, in-store analytics and loyalty programmes who will demonstrate their expertise to the many industry professionals already in Cannes. TFWA Digital Village occupies three full days until Friday afternoon. On Friday morning, Portland Design will compere an Ideas Lab for exhibitors to share their digital insights and ideas with visitors.

Whether dipping an exploratory toe into the digital pond or planning major technology initiatives, duty free and travel retail businesses in search of the latest digital solutions will be well served in Cannes this year.