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Ask-our Expert: Unlocking Opportunities in Duty Free and Travel Retail as well as Navigating the Americas 

Author & Contributor: Tijn Oomens - Head of Americas Duty Free & Travel Retail 

Get a glimpse into the market trends that are shaping the industry from our expert's point of view. This article features insights from Tijn on the key trends shaping the market and how can leverage these trends to enhance customer satisfaction. His discussion covers crucial aspects, from optimising distribution networks and understanding consumer behaviour, to offering a compelling perspective on innovation, adaptability, and strategic thinking within the Americas' duty free and travel retail sector. 

Could you give a brief introduction to the Duty Free Sales Americas team and the department’s structure? 

Our Americas team thrives on its diversity and cultural understanding. Four strong members make up the core group, including myself. Mauricio Zambrano Aldana and Juan Chiriboga Roldos, both based in our Netherlands office, offer valuable expertise as native speakers from Colombia and Ecuador respectively. Their cultural insights are especially crucial for navigating the South American market. 

Completing our team is Paola Mazza, our in-the-field brand ambassador for the Latin America region, based in South America. Paola officially represents and our partner brands secured through distribution contracts. She enhances the execution of our brand partnerships at the retail level by providing staff training, conducting tastings, and implementing a variety of marketing activities. Paola travels extensively throughout the region, visiting customers and presenting specific brands where we hold exclusive distribution partnerships. 

By the year's end, we will expand our sales team by appointing a new member in South America. This decision aims to enhance our local presence in the region, alongside the ongoing efforts of our brand ambassador. 

How do you define the major geographic regions within the American continents? 

Our team proudly manages operations across the entire Americas continent. This vast territory encompasses everything from the US-Canadian border all the way south to Chile and Argentina. Our extensive network ensures we have a presence in nearly every corner of the region. Customers are a core focus for our team, and we work diligently to serve businesses throughout North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. 

Our infrastructure in Los Angeles, Miami, Montevideo, and the Netherlands enables us to maintain a high level of service. From these locations, we cater to the needs of our customers and suppliers across the continent. 

The subsidiary we opened three years ago in Montevideo serves as our hub for various South American borders and will be expanded soon. Along with our operational excellence through our end-to-end solutions, we are committed to a consumer-focused approach. Our Montevideo hub will represent brand owners across different categories and deliver an optimal shop floor experience. 

What are the reasons behind the increased focus on duty free sales compared to previous years within 

The global duty free market has witnessed a resurgence in sales over the past two years, following a significant decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This positive trend is particularly evident in the Americas. 

Recognising the Americas' potential, we established our regional operations three years ago, essentially starting from scratch. This strategic investment involved expanding our team, fostering a strong network of regional contacts, and increasing travel frequency to key markets. These efforts have resulted in a gradual rise in business. This success was attributed to the fact that we have actively added new partners to our portfolio, broadening our reach and product offerings within the Americas. 

Are there any emerging trends within the duty free and travel retail market that we should be strategically considering?  

The travel retail industry is undergoing a dynamic transformation, fuelled by innovative trends and evolving consumer expectations. remains at the forefront of these developments, strategically adapting our approach to cater to the changing travel retail landscape. 

1. The Rise of Experiential Retail:

  • Airports, a key driver of travel retail, are increasingly prioritizing experiential retail. This shift focuses on creating a memorable and engaging experience for passengers. This encompasses both in-store and post-purchase touchpoints.
  • In-Store Experience: 
    We recognize the importance of a seamless and enjoyable in-store experience. We collaborate with brand owners to implement a digital-offline approach. This combines the convenience of online browsing with the physical experience of in-store shopping and securing the appropriate location on the shelf according to the vision of the brand owners.
  • Post-Purchase Experience: 
    The travel retail experience extends beyond the point of purchase. Airports are actively enhancing post-purchase offerings. This could include high-quality dining options, inviting cafes, or relaxation areas. These additional amenities contribute to an overall positive travel experience for passengers. 

2. The Growing Demand for Premium Products: 
Another significant trend is the rising consumer interest in premium products. Travellers are increasingly seeking unique and high-end items unavailable in their domestic markets. This focus on premiumisation presents a valuable opportunity for our customers and suppliers. 
These premium offerings cater to diverse consumer motivations. Some travellers may be looking for unique gifts for loved ones, while others may view these products as investment pieces. is well positioned to address these evolving consumer desires by sourcing a curated selection of premium products. 

Does the demand for premium duty free products remain significant in lower-income economies? 

In general, we observe that high-premium goods tend to perform well, catering to a specific clientele seeking unique gifts, investments, or simply something special. 

However, we have also identified a shift in momentum within the premium segment. Rising inflation, political instability, and economic uncertainties are causing consumers to gravitate towards mid-priced products. To effectively serve this evolving market, our company prioritises offering a well-balanced product portfolio catering to diverse spending abilities. 

How does proactively adapt to ensure customer satisfaction? 

Here at, we recognize the significant impact of seasonality on consumer preferences. By strategically aligning communication and promotions with seasonal fluctuations, we optimize sales performance across all product categories within the Americas market. This proactive approach ensures we are always positioned to meet the evolving needs and preferences of our customers. 

What truly differentiates from other distributors within the Americas market?   

The answer lies in our commitment to consolidation and a comprehensive range of value-added services. 

1. Extensive Assortment & One-Stop Shop Advantage: 
While many distributors specialize in only one or two categories, we offer a comprehensive range to simplify the ordering process for customers. owns an extensive product portfolio thanks to strong relationships with brand owners. This allows us to act as a one-stop shop supplier, fulfilling customers by streamlining operations and reducing the need to manage multiple points of contact. 

2. Strategic Partnerships: 
Beyond convenience, we remain active in collaborating with brand owners to negotiate favorable rates and establish strategic partnerships.  

3. Dedicated In-Region Support: 
Besides supplying products, we also offer dedicated in-region support through our brand ambassadors. These experts visit customer shops to implement planograms, optimize shelf placement, and drive sales. Additionally, they develop and execute promotional campaigns for strategic brand partners like Mars, Hershey's, Haribo and Mark Anthony Brands. This proactive approach ensures customer success and maximizes return on investment for both and our brand partners.