Nordic Travel Retail Seminar tackles challenges of technology, sustainability and economics : Moodie Davitt Report

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ICELAND. The annual Nordic Travel Retail Seminar took place on 31 May in Reykjavik, with a diverse speaker line-up tackling questions around technology and AI, sustainability and the green agenda and the regional and global economic picture – alongside a focus on the host country Iceland.

The event at The Parliament Hotel attracted close to 100 decision makers from Nordic markets – including travel retailers, brand owners and airport companies – and was moderated by The Moodie Davitt Report President Dermot Davitt.

After a warm welcome by Nordic Travel Retail Group Board Chair and Rémy-Cointreau Director Nordics Elsebeth Lillienschiold, delegates heard the first of a series of compelling sessions on the future of technology and AI, a central event theme.

Petur Karl Ingolfsson: Tech predictions for 2024
Andreas Cervenka: Compared the contrasting fortunes of the Nordic regional economies
Tryggvi Freyr Elinarson: Debunked the idea that AI will have limited impact on travel

Expert speakers on this topic included Reykjanes Tech Founder Petur Karl Ingolfsson; disruptor and influencer Amer Mohammed, who is known for his major role in transforming both travel and retailing at Stena Line with a technology lens, as well as introducing the then revolutionary Scan & Pay platform to Coop Sweden, and Tryggvi Freyr Elinarson, whose CV features over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and business development, with a focus on AI and emerging tech.

BioEffect CEO Liv Bergthorsdottir on the success story of an Icelandic beauty brand

These speakers outlined their predictions for the world of tech advances in 2024 and beyond and in particular highlighted how AI is set to change the way our world works in ways we have yet to imagine. Travel and retail, they noted, is set for a new era of change and disruption.

In other sessions, well-known Swedish business journalist Andreas Cervenka offered a big picture view of economic trends in the Nordics and beyond.

The Moodie Davitt Report President Dermot Davitt hosted conversations with each speaker after their presentations. From top, Pia Kirstine Voldmester, Amer Mohammed and Ragnheiður (Raga) Elín Árnadóttir

A key topic facing the channel is how brands and retailers not only act sustainably but also communicate our ‘green’ credentials effectively and compliantly.

Pia Kirstine Voldmester, who heads law firm Kromann Reumert’s data protection and marketing/consumer law practice group, presented the implications of the new EU Green Claims Directive, which looks set to challenge how companies make claims about their sustainability credentials from 2026 onwards – and which has excited much concern already in travel retail circles.

The day concluded with two varying stories from host market, Iceland. BioEffect CEO Liv Bergthorsdottir told the success story of the Icelandic beauty brand, which has made a big impact for its innovative science-based, nature-linked and ecologically-engineered production. Travel retail is an important market, led to date by the inflight business and key skincare markets such as China and South Korea.

The inspirational speaker to end the day was Ragnheiður (Raga) Elín Árnadóttir, who now works for the OECD in Paris and is former Iceland Minister of Industry and Commerce. She was previously also Chair of Duty Free Iceland, which is the prime travel retailer at Keflavik Airport.

Petta Reddast, which translates as ‘It will all work out’, is the saying underpinning much of Icelandic thinking, said former minister and ex-Duty Free Iceland Chair Ragnheiður (Raga) Elín Árnadóttir

She provided breezy, entertaining assessment of the Icelandic mindset and how it had affected business, tourism and society in this country of just 300,000 people.

Duty Free Iceland Managing Director Thorgerdur Thrainsdottir (right) and Nordic Travel Retail Group Board Chair and Rémy-Cointreau Director Nordics Elsebeth Lillienschiold with Dermot Davitt at the welcome evening at the Harpa Concert Hall, with its stunning views over Reykjavik harbour

The conference sessions were preceded by a memorable welcome dinner on 30 May at the Harpa Concert Hall, one of the architectural highlights of the city, where guests enjoyed a taste of local food culture plus a dash of Icelandic humour courtesy of popular comedian Ari Eldjarn. ✈

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