The world of travel retail, what a fascinating and exciting industry – it’s complex, unique and diverse.
As someone who is new to the industry, I’m particularly excited about the opportunities this giant world of travel retail presents. After three months with FILTR (an integrated retail marketing and design agency, based in Singapore), it’s safe to say that I have already learnt a lot, met fantastic and interesting people, and got a glimpse of what this industry is all about.
As a woman entering the industry, I thought it relevant to share some of my key learnings so far:
- 1. Ask questions: there are a lot of fantastic people, with a lot of knowledge, in the industry, all of whom are eager and willing to share information. They just need to be asked. You will never know what you don’t ask, so talk to people, ask questions and be a sponge – absorb as much information as you can.
- 2. Put your hand up: if there’s an opportunity, take it. A conference in Rome? A show in Singapore? Go. A store opening in Sydney? Go. The more you go, the more you get. This industry is about meeting new people and seeing new places to help gain insights and learn about travellers and what they want. So, don’t take a back seat, put yourself forward and if you’re given an opportunity, take it.
- 3. Explore, explore, explore: growing up in a family involved in the travel retail industry, also meant I grew up in a world that was travel and airport obsessed. Need to be at the airport 90-minutes early? We’d be there 3-hours early, walking around airport shops, looking at different display units, talking to shop assistants and everything in between. At the time, it didn’t make much sense to me, but now, having entered the industry myself, I understand that it’s one of the best ways to learn – observation and interpretation can spark creation. So next time you’re boarding that ferry or walking through that airport, put your phone down and check out what’s around you.
- 4. Reach out to people, stay in contact: you’ll meet a lot of people, and the people you’ve met, will also meet a lot of other people, so it’s your job to stay in contact. Establish a rapport with someone or find out something you have in common with them and follow-up. It’s not enough to set and forget, you’ll get a lot further by staying in contact with people – connect on LinkedIn, send them the occasional email and go out of your way to see them when you can.
- 5. Buy business cards, and lots of them: this is one I wish I’d followed on day one. I’d almost go so far as to say that even before you’ve got your computer login, you need business cards. This industry is largely about networking, so make sure you have a big stack of business cards with you wherever you go – you never know who you might meet. (Note: the writer of this article attended her first ever TFWA show sans-business cards and wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone… although it does provide a good excuse to follow-up with people [see point 4]).
Lastly, and it goes without saying, enjoy it! After three months, I can already say that the travel retail world is your oyster. Do with it what you want and enjoy the journey.