trends Archana Sharma
A robust growth in air travel is driving attendance and interest in the industry’s largest catering event.
eturning for another year to Hamburg, the World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Exhibition is back with new sections devoted to travel retail, rail service and new exhibitors. Event Director Archana Sharma is overseeing the massive event along with her staff at Reed Exhibitions. In mid-March she gave her overview on the growth in air travel, which drives interest in the WTCE and attracts innovative suppliers intent on finding success in the travel catering sectors. PAX International: When Reed Exhibitions took over from the International Travel Catering Association, did planners expect to see it grow to what it is now? Archana Sharma: We knew there was huge potential for further growth due to the nature of the travel industry. Passenger traffic has continued to increase rapidly
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over the past six years with a 9.6% increase reported year on year in January 2017 – its fastest pace since April 2011 – according to the International Air Transport Association. It attributes the growth to the combined factors of lower airfares, stronger economic conditions and the Indian and Chinese markets driving growth. As a result, the onboard offering has greatly evolved over this time and will continue to expand in line with the growing industry and changing consumer demands. PAX: What are the possibilities for future growth of the event? Sharma: We believe that the travel industry will continue to grow exponentially with a number of revenue opportunities. With this in mind, the event will continue to develop and adapt reflecting the changing demands of the industry and providing a source of expertise and information on the latest innovations and products available to onboard professionals. The 2017 edition will focus more heavily on travel retail in recognition of its growth. The travel retail sector is currently growing at an 8.4% compound annual growth rate – 2.4% above the average
growth rate of the personal luxury goods market over the past 10 years. This presents a significant opportunity for operators to increase ancillary revenue and is one of the reasons why we decided to introduce this year’s dedicated Focus on World Travel Retail. We know that inflight retail is a growing focus for the onboard sector and we wanted to ensure it was given the right level of attention at the show in response to industry trends as well as visitor feedback. Changing consumer expectations means the industry will continue to evolve. We are immersed in the industry yearround and are perfectly positioned to pick up on trends and expand the show as best fits. PAX: What are a few of the more interesting new companies that people will see on the WTCE show floor? Sharma: The 2017 show will feature more than 120 first-time exhibitors, some of which will be based in a New Exhibitor Village. This area will showcase innovation and introduce passenger experience professionals to companies that are new to the show and, in some cases, the industry.