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If you happen to have been in the Grand Hyatt in Seoul today, you were probably attending the Moodie Report’s premiere event – The Trinity Forum.

Never heard of it? You probably wouldn’t unless you are in the C-suite of the three major stakeholders in the airport commercial business – landlords, retailers and brand owners. The Trinity Forum is acknowledged as the industry’s leading platform for debate and today although there was a diverse representation of each sector in the Grand Hyatt Seoul Ballroom one theme resounded from each panelist and speaker – the inclusion of social media in the travel communication mix and the increased use of mobile technology as means of understanding the mind of the customer, enhancing the frequency and improving the quality of messaging to drive longterm sustainable revenue through loyalty and advocacy.

One such advocate for social technology was one of Asia’s most impressive women – Sung-Joo Kim who told how her company actively incorporate social communication platforms like Facebook urging attendees to ‘use what they use’ making reference to SungJoo Groups youthful female consumer audience stressing importance of building meaningful and lasting relationships through digital interaction.

Andrew Carter, Managing Director, Bacardi Global Retail Travel opened a riveting panel discussion titled “Raising the Quality Bar” by dislodging a ballroom of 400+ executives (80% male over the age of 45), asking them to kindly stand up, turn to the left and raise up their thumb. Whilst having them upstanding, he articulated his belief that the long term measure of a company should not be profit alone but articulated the thumbs length (pointing to his thumb) and measured in LIKES (as in Facebook) as a sustainable means of driving relationships with consumers.

Also participating in the Quality panel discussion,  global food travel retailer’s champion of innovation gave us his first impressions.

“Social media was not on the menu today – it’s a formal discussion topic tomorrow however every speaker here mentioned the importance of social media to enhance the consumer experience.

The industry is behind in the general adoption curve and this was a travel retail epiphany. It is evident that social media has to play a much bigger role in long term collaboration and for every sector of the three stakeholders present increased willingness to pay and willingness to visit (footfall, traffic or penetration are the industry terms) are two significant benefits of our attention and engagement. I feel it has an untapped potential and those present recognised the opportunity that exists to message and drive value at all points within the trip chain.” – Rick Stavast, SSP – The Food Travel Experts Chief Marketing Officer.

Positioned as one company leading the engagement charge SSP are not presently paying lip service to their peers and Stavast’s presentation articulated the need to re-humanise the journey through a refreshing narrative using a first person photo journal of his trip from Zurich to Seoul.

SSP Australia were the first food and beverage retailer in Sydney International Airport to develop a social engagement program in October 2010 using a digital platforms Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr.

A quiet achiever with by far the largest social audience in the Australian travel retail space growing from a zero base according to Social Mention in September 2010,  SSP Australia presently have a combined fan/friend community numbering over 48,000 and extend a digital handshake to those landing or leaving the 7th Most Social Airport in the World according to a Facebook’s published report.

Expect to see the world’s largest travel retail innovators moving from beyond a social media presence to a full court press with the further integration of geo-location, near frequency SMS coupons and mobile payments. But can they play together and will the customer ultimately win?