After a bumper year in 2015, the travel industry in 2016 has been shaping up to be ‘cautiously positive’, as despite geopolitical uncertainty, and a much lower pound, many Brits are still likely to travel abroad. Indeed, travel giant TUI (the company behind Thomson and First Choice) recently announced that overall bookings and revenues are set to be higher in 2016 than 2015, an excellent sign for the industry.
When ‘experiential’ triumphs over savviness
Millions of us each year get excited, not only about the impending holiday but the excuse to go duty free shopping in the airport before we depart. Despite all the advice telling us to be savvy shoppers and do our research before we buy, many of us are still guilty of paying more for ‘duty free’ than we would if we shopped wisely through the year and looked out for offers on our favourite brands.
So why do we do it?
Well, it is my belief (and I’m as guilty as anyone) that it is down to two main factors which we don’t have the luxury of for the rest of the year. 1) Time, and 2) A ‘luxury shopping’ experience.
Arriving hours before the flight is due to depart to get through security means that we often have time to kill. Retail outlets entice us in with their luxury brand offers, tasting products (alcohol at 7am? Why not, I’m on holiday!!) and an environment befitting a Hollywood star: open plan, bright lights and sparkly black marble floors. Not to mention the airport-exclusive deals which are only available to us lucky few. Who could resist? This puts us 100% in an open, browser mode when in store. We are worthy of being here, staff are never judgemental so why not? It’s enjoyable and stress free; we’re on our holidays!
Lessons to be learnt
And this is where the experience outweighs price. Think about some of the cinemas which now charge over £20 a ticket. Years ago, we would never have paid that to watch a film, but now we do. Why? Because we are paying for the experience. It seems to me that airport retail outlets have followed in these footsteps. It is my belief that, in order to survive, our high street stores could take a lesson from these outlets and instead of cutting back, offer an enjoyable experience which cannot be found in a Poundland or supermarket where of course we can buy it cheaper. And where is there any immersive experience at all when shopping online?
At the end of the day, we are social human beings with emotions and feelings guiding us – not penny counting robots programmed only for the cheapest price; we can all be swayed to pay more by a bit of luxury and an inviting experience….especially when we are on our holidays!
Danni is Head of Retail at Marketing Sciences Unlimited.
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