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  • Christina Boon

Why Choose a Career in Travel Retail?

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

Travel retail is exactly as the name suggests; retailers who sell to travellers. You can find travel retail at airports, on passenger flights, and on cruise ships. Travel retailers usually sell goods such as fragrances, accessories, jewellery, alcohol, tobacco, electronics, leather goods, and confectionary. As an industry, travel retail is fast-paced, often operating to tight deadlines and just in time delivery. It is an ideal industry for high energy, motivated and engaged individuals who enjoy a fast pace and challenging work environment. While it will not pay salaries that can compete with the FAANGs of the world, the industry does offer competitive salaries and good progression prospects. Due to the challenging nature of the industry, experience gained within it is often valued by other sectors.

Why is Travel Retail different to High Street Retail?

From my point of view, I recruit for mainly two types of travel retail. Airport retail and in-flight retail. For all intents and purposes, airport retail looks and feels a lot like the shops on the high street do. In-flight retail feels completely different to both. However, airport and in-flight retailers have more in common. Both are catering to travelling customers who are unlikely to return week after week to these shops (unless they are very frequent fliers!). Unlike high street stores that tend to rely on the same customers and leisurely browsing. In-flight retail is effectively a shop on board an aircraft. Here you can buy on board rather than at the airport shop. This is particularly true of food on the budget airlines where meals are not included in the price of the ticket.

What job roles are available in travel retail?

There are many typical roles in travel retail. These include jobs titles such as assistant buyer, buyer, senior buyer, procurement, category manager, supply chain manager, operations manager, warehouse manager, and warehouse supervisor. However, there are also accountant and finance roles, HR roles and sales and business development roles too. Where travel retail differs is that there is quite often the need to have intermediaries who liaise between an airline and the retailer company for whom they work. These roles are generally communications type roles. My favourite of these is Airline Crew Communications Coordinator. For a more comprehensive list, please click here.

Is it difficult to get into?

Many travel retailers prefer to select candidates who have proven experience of working in a fast-paced environment. This includes experience gained within the industry. However, that does not mean that they will not consider candidates with relevant transferable skills.

For example, if the job advert is asking for particular systems experience along with skills such as people management, KPIs and negotiating with clients, applications from candidates without those transferable skills will most likely be rejected by the client. But CVs that clearly list these skills will secure their owners an interview.

The clients I recruit for generally have a few entry-level roles and will take people on at a data administrator or stock auditor level. If individuals perform well, these clients will offer good progression. But most of the roles for which I recruit are managerial level.

If you would like advice on whether you have what it takes to join the travel retail sector, please do call me on 0203 488 2028. Or why not follow amdas on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter for further updates?

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