For decades airlines operated physical stores, allowing travelers to interact with sales agents in urban centers to purchase tickets. Travel agencies did the same. Phone sales pressured the in-person operations and the internet effectively destroyed City Ticket Offices. Now Emirates is bringing them back.
The carrier launched its newest ‘Emirates World’ flagship store late last month and plans in person shops across its network to inspire travelers, in line with “evolving customer trends.”
The opening of this latest concept store is an expression of our retail vision for the future and marks the first of several stores we’ll be opening in the coming years across our network. It’s also part of our larger retail strategy to make the store experience more convenient, engaging and personal.– Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ Chief Commercial Officer
Located in Jumeirah Town Centre, the airline’s redesigned 3,000 square foot retail store is an open and fluid space for customers to shop for all of their travel needs in a lounge-like environment. The centerpiece of the ‘Emirates World’ product experience is the airline’s Premium Economy Class seat display. Customers can relax, recline and experience Premium Economy, so they know what to expect when travelling in this highly sought-after cabin class.
It also offers customers the ability to literally immerse themselves in Emirates’ signature products via VR/ AR technologies. Travelers can explore Emirates’ cabins through the immersive experiences. The carrier also touts the ability to take selfies against a variety of virtual backgrounds, including its famed first class suites and A380s business class bar area.
Staff are cross-trained, covering airline ticketing, Emirates Holidays and Skywards frequent flyer program opportunities. The redesigned store also features smart technology like self-service screens to reduce wait times and enable faster service.
Finally, the carrier now offer a selection of branded merchandise and accessories for sale. Or they can relax with a selection of coffees, teas and other refreshments prepared by Costa Coffee baristas, who have created two unique drinks for the Emirates World retail store.
While some of the customer flow will develop naturally, Emirates also plans to use the retail shops as a gathering place for the travel industry. This month the carrier expects to host tourism boards from Thailand, Israel and the Seychelles at the updated Jumeriah location.
In the coming years the carrier expects to spend 100 million AED (~$27 million) on expanding the retail shopping experience across the globe. Additional shops may be smaller or less full-featured, with Travel Store and Travel Kiosk models also planned, depending on location.
That the carrier sees “evolving customer trends” as justifying a major investment for in-person sales service today is interesting, of course. But maybe the high touch model can help the carrier capture even more of the market as it reestablishes its network and expands anew.
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