Managing Director, Inflight Sales Group, Board member & Treasurer of APTRA
Tony entered the duty free and travel retail industry when he began to work for ISG in 2000. He was the first outside hire as all other staff company were from within the industry.
Prior to joining ISG he was working in consulting, and he spent most of his early career at Toys R Us. When asked how he compares working in DFTR, he readily agrees that he finds travel retail far more stimulating. “Domestic retail can be a bit dull outside of peak times, but TR has never been”, Tony adds.
Tony is single and has been living in Hong Kong for the past seven years. He still keeps his primary home in Atlanta, near his family. His favorite past times include tennis and baseball.
The company, in brief
As Managing Director of Inflight Sales Group, Tony is responsible for a team servicing 17 airlines currently, with a wide variety of partnership models. According to Tony, “It is a company philosophy to work with great partners and airline programs with high potential; the model is secondary for us.” When asked about plans for development outside Asia, Tony confides that the company is always looking for suitable opportunities, “…but definitely we believe Asia will remain our primary focus.”
Views and vision
We asked Tony about his views on the current and future business model and whether he sees any major changes to the business model possible in the near to mid-term future both in inflight and airport retail.
In the near term he says “Not really. Perhaps we will see some value adds for some airlines and airports, but I don’t see a revolutionary cooperation happening between airports and airlines at the moment, although it is worthy of discussion.”
In the medium term on the other hand Tony is more confident that change will occur… “Yes I believe connectivity in flight, the continued emergence of social media and buying based on friend’s recommendations or ratings, instant price comparisons, and greater advance planning will present new opportunities to connect with travellers at more points in the journey and hopefully trigger more purchases and higher spends.”
On his views on the key challenges to the industry today Tony expresses concern over the slow growth or in some cases recession in Europe, the question of housing bubbles in China, and the short term mentality of many governments. “Any major economic issue could be quite devastating for our industry.” he adds.
On the question of how companies like ISG can help address these challenges Tony advocates for more involvement from companies like ISG, encouraging their airline partners to become more involved in the collective industry association work. He expresses concern that airlines are not having their voices heard, and are not engaged enough when threats and solutions are being discussed. “And it is my job, as I believe it should be the same for other inflight concession companies, to be in the forefront on behalf of customers as well. Their core business isn’t travel retail, so that burden should fall more on us.”
On the topic of the industry association work, and how APTRA and the other DFTR associations can work to further develop and protect the interests of the industry, beyond advocacy, training, research and conferences? Tony believes that while threat assessment response is always going to be important, it would be a great goal for APTRA and similar groups to help market the industry, talk about its benefits, etc. “Most people simply don’t understand what we have to offer or what we deliver.” he adds.
Finally, as APTRA’s most recently elected board member, we asked Tony how he hopes to contribute to APTRA now that he is more personally involved.
“I think focusing on bringing voice to suggestions from my sector, thinking about how our specific sector be affected differently than brands or airports will be a good place to start. I’m a pretty good numbers guy as well, so hopefully I can support with that skill also.
APTRA welcomes Tony to the board of the association, where as well as his election to serve on the board of APTRA, he was also appointed Treasurer, a position he will hold for the next 2 year term.