September 19, 2021

Prepare now, and get set to fly

There will always be a market for great products and great suppliers. Here industry insider Marc Warde asks just what does it take to get a product onboard and how to prepare for the bounce back?

The airline world, and by that I really mean airline people, is generally run by a hardy bunch.’€¯ They cope with the annual ups and downs of seasonality, differences of creeds and cultures, terror attacks, natural disasters and many other anomalies besides with great aplomb.

This virus will change all of that and in some measure all of us.’€¯ It has been heart-warming and wonderful to see the kindness, supportiveness, care and national spirit in what is a worrying time for us all, the clapping for NHS/healthcare workers would bring a tear to the driest of eyes.

Our instinct is to get out and do something and this time in the most part we just need to stay home, keep ourselves and the wider communities safe.’¯The landscape of the airline world and its people will be changed by this pandemic.’€¯ Sad to say some airlines and some suppliers won’€™t make it, saddest of all neither will some of the people.

But I believe the resilience of the airline world and its people will ensure it rises like a phoenix to the challenge of rebuilding again. It will be different, it will be changed but with this unprecedented time to think, it will also be better. Products that are great will still be in demand and they need to be seen when standing tall when this is all over so make sure you are ready, get prepare to shine…/p>

To get a product onboard takes resilience. Truth is, not everyone is going to like or want what you’re offering. So lesson one: develop a thick skin.

Lesson two: be prepared. Buyers will expect you to be professional and slick. They are time sensitive so be ready to shine. Some buyers expect a bit of grovelling but others will give good solid advice. Some will want to push you on price. The important thing is to be yourself, be true to your brand ethos and be prepared, be very prepared.

Know your margins too. Exactly. Don’€™t forget a single detail because when working at volumes pennies make pounds. Be open too. A deal has to be viable so honestly show what you are making, and if a price reduction works for the volumes on offer, be willing.

Often buyers will ask you to white label your product. This may be tempting but think about the implications/value for your business before agreeing. Volumes can aid cash-flow, but long-term recognition may be more important. Co-branding can be a good alternative option.

Think about how you want your brand to be represented. Be sure your USPs shout out from any packaging or literature, and offer crew samples and incentives’“ they can be your greatest asset.

Lesson three: be ready to be consistent. Airlines need to know you can deliver, that you won’€™t run out of product or money, that your hygiene, health and safety won’€™t go awry. Be ready to prove these points. Check your own suppliers won’t let you down.

Lesson four: deliver and monitor. Be ready, deliver as promised, and deliver on time. Then monitor progress. Press for sales insights in advance so you can map out the peaks and troughs and sales patterns. This will help you evolve and target your product better. Sometimes working with established players like En Route, Evertaste, Retail In Motion or Foodcase can help, but remember your relationships should be a two-way street so invest in them, make sure all the numbers really work, and you will reap the rewards.

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