When in 2004 duty free sales ended, it was predicted that time was up for the popular retail zones near the border. But this did not happen. The company Travel FREE was founded, which thanks to its adaptation of the sales concept managed not only to halt a critical situation, but even managed to expand. The most striking evidence for this is the fact that whereas in 2004 the company was managing eight shops, today customers have 32 Travel FREE shops available all along the German and Austrian border. All these shops carry a wide range of products, including Metelka liqueurs.
According to the marketing manager, Lenka Novotná, the success of Travel FREE is mainly down to the courageous decision of the owners to keep the shops open even after duty free sales had ended. “It was at this time that our brand was born. It was derived from the well-known name Duty Free and contained the idea of open borders and free movement of persons. Our first marketing communication also corresponded to this and taught customers that “Duty free has become Travel FREE,” says Lenka Novotná.
Suppliers? We emphasize quality
The company has invested not inconsiderable resources in marketing, in spite of the fact that Duty Free shops were already such a well-established brands that they essentially did not need massive support. “We addressed customers with regular mail shots, and in cooperation with suppliers we started to make time-limited offers. And even though the advantage of a duty-free zone had disappeared, we became competitive on the market, and our goods (and mainly our prices) are highly attractive for customers,” says the marketing manager, recalling the foundations of the future success.
To this day Travel FREE continues to have time-limited offers. “The prices in our fourteen-day offers are now unbeatable. We also sell products or packages exclusively intended for the Travel Retail market that you won’t find on the domestic market,” she says.
Travel FREE pays great attention to the selection of suppliers. “We choose the most interesting products, and we emphasise their quality and how accommodating firms are during negotiations. We can offer them sufficient sales of goods, but also a very good standard of their presentation supported by our trained personnel.. As a result we get very attractive conditions from our suppliers,” she says, explaining the low-price offer in Travel FREE shops, and she also admits that it also helps that most of the items are supplied by its 50 % owner, the German company Gebr. Heinemann, which operates duty free shops at many international airports around the world.
Tobacco products are the most successful, followed by spirits.
At Travel FREE shops you can essentially find all the goods that you commonly find at airports. Customers can choose from a range of coffee and tea, alcoholic drinks, sweets, non-alcoholic drinks, tobacco, perfumes and cosmetics, clothes and accessories.
Tobacco products remain the best-selling items. ”Their success is based on the lower taxes on tobacco in the Czech Republic compared with Germany and Austria. But the share of tobacco products out of overall turnover in all shops is falling. It can be seen that we are far from being just a massive tobacconist, and we have many other interesting goods for which customers are willing to make a journey to us,” says Novotná.
Spirits are the best seller after tobacco. “We offer them in one-litre bottles. The price of a one-litre bottle in our shop is often comparable to the price of a 70 cl bottle on the domestic market,” she says, indicating a reason for the high sales of alcoholic drinks.
Travel FREE has grown into a stable and prosperous international firm whose owners understand that with increasing success comes increasing social responsibility. “As a friendly neighbour in the border regions we support regional projects and institutions. We are glad if we can support a local football team, a nursery or a sporting or cultural event,” says Novotná. Travel FREE has long been one of the main partners of the Pálava grape harvest festival in Mikulov. “It is a beautiful event with tens of thousands of visitors every year, and this year was no different,” she adds.
Milky is one of the top 10 liqueurs
The liqueur manufacturer Metelka is one of the traditional suppliers of Travel FREE, and its products have been on the shelves of the shops ever since the company was founded, i.e., for fourteen years. “The tradition and success of this brand encouraged us to cooperate, and the figures show that we made a very good decision. For example, we sold more than fifteen thousand bottles of Metelka Tuzemák last year,” says the manager praising the brand.
“And the other Metelka products are not selling badly either. For example the Milky range is one of the top ten liqueur brands sold in Travel FREE. The company now offers approximately 25 Metelka liqueurs, and at least a part of this portfolio is to be found in all shops.
Novotná herself has tried some Metelka liqueurs herself. And she enjoys Moravský Vaječný Tradiční the most. “I like its label with a Moravian theme. It always evokes memories of the Pálava grape harvest. And Metelka liqueur tastes great too. I associate it with Christmas, and every time I open a bottle, I inhale a real Christmassy atmosphere,” says the Travel FREE marketing manager with a smile.
More information at www.travel-free.cz