Rising to the Challenge

16 March, 2016

Joe Bates confronts some challenges facing the Americas duty free business ahead of the annual Iaddfs show.


THIS YEAR’S IAADFS SHOW seeks to educate as well as entertain. Now in its 48th year the International Association of Airport Duty Free Stores Show of the Americas is the longest running duty free industry event. This year’s exhibition takes place at its usual venue at the Orlando World Center Marriott hotel between April 3 and 6, a fortnight later than its usual mid-March slot.

The trade show has a popular, tried-and-trusted format, which has changed little over the decades. The hot Florida sunshine and the informal attitude to business of the predominantly Latin American visitors who attend have traditionally made the show the most relaxed of the duty free industry’s three major exhibitions.

The Americas duty free business is facing a number of challenges at present, however, which perhaps explains why this year IAADFS has decided to inject a more serious tone into the usually light-hearted proceedings. A new education session has been scheduled for April 4, which will feature Airports Council International director general Angela Gittens, and Peter Mohn, owner and CEO of travel retail research consultancy M1nd-set.

Gittens will share her insights about the current state of the travel industry and the ramifications for the duty free business in the Americas. Mohn will provide an overview of new research findings by his firm concerning traveller buying habits in North America and the Caribbean. Mohn will also follow up his Monday morning presentation with a more in-depth workshop presentation of the new research data on Tuesday morning.

As well as the three-day Trademarket and the new education session, the IAADFS show will feature its usual calendar of social events, which includes the Opening Reception on Sunday April 3, Tuesday’s night Gala Evening, and the show’s Club Americas on Monday and Tuesday nights.

More than 200 suppliers will be exhibiting, including major drinks players such as Bacardi Global Travel Retail, Brown-Forman, Diageo Global Travel & Middle East and Rémy Cointreau Travel Retail Americas.

Among the new liquor exhibitors this year are 750 Brands, an importer of Italian wines and liqueurs, Panamanian firm Global Premium Vodka, whose portfolio includes Sugarloaf Aged Vodka and José Ignacio Vodka, and the Calgary-based Minhas Microbrewery and Distillery.

The Americas duty free liquor market, which accounts for less than 20% of the overall global market by volume, is currently facing a number of significant challenges. The region’s duty free airport business has traditionally relied on the spending power of Asian and Latin American travellers, but the relatively high US dollar and the weakness of regional economies such as Brazil and Argentina are acting as a brake on sales.

The Zika virus, the mosquito-borne disease that experts say is possibly linked to microcephaly in babies, is another external threat to the region’s duty free trade this year.

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