All images via Heineken

After securing a five-year contract extension with Air France and KLM in March 2019, Heineken has gone on to launch a first-of-its-kind bar within KLM’s new non-Schengen Crown Lounge, known as the KLM House, at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Officially opened on November 28, KLM’s new non-Schengen Crown Lounge is the largest airline lounge in Europe, spanning two floors and 6,800 square meters. Equipped with around 1,000 seats, it is expected to welcome over a million passengers per year from KLM and its SkyTeam Alliance partners, including Air France, China Southern, Delta and Virgin Atlantic.

The lounge is separated into five areas inspired by different elements of the Dutch landscape: City, Dutch Mountain, Polder, Sea and Sky. Heineken’s premium bar is located in the circular City area, alongside a coffee bar operated by a barista and a buffet area, created by hospitality caterers Vermaat, that focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients and minimizing waste.

Visitors enjoying a complimentary Heineken or Heineken 0.0 (the nonalcoholic variant) in the City section of the lounge are surrounded by seven famous pieces of art from Dutch museums as part of an exhibition curated by designer Irma Bloom.

Heineken bar in the KLM Crow Lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol

At the Blue bar in the Sky zone on the upper level of the Crown Lounge, visitors can purchase a wider selection of beers and ciders from the Heineken global portfolio, including regional brands Tiger, Dos Equis, Affligem, Strongbow and Lagunitas.

Heineken also has a space close to the Dutch Mountain area, which is designed for groups to either work or be entertained in, where it will encourage lounge visitors to join in with exciting activations based on its brand partnerships with the new Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix in May 2020 and the UEFA EURO 2020 football tournament in June. Dimitris Kyriazis, Heineken’s director of Sales, Europe Export & Global Duty Free, hinted that the Grand Prix activation will see passengers competing in their own virtual races in a Grand Prix-inspired video-game.

Furthermore, Heineken will be creating a lounge activation based on the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, which is scheduled for release in April 2020. The brand has been collaborating with the movie franchise for a number of years.

According to Kyriazis, the export business and global duty-free accounts for eight percent of Heineken’s total revenue. “Global duty-free has been growing ahead of expectations. We’ve seen double-digit growth year-on-year over the last three years,” he explained.

“Global duty-free has been growing ahead of expectations. We’ve seen double-digit growth year-on-year over the last three years.” – Dimitris Kyriazis, Heineken.

As for in flight, Kyriazis said, “We are flying with about 60-65 percent of the airlines who we think it makes commercial sense to target. Due to our European heritage, the majority of those are in Europe, but we’re very proud of our growing presence in Asia. We already work with Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, and many others are coming up, including China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan and Xiamen.”

After launching Heineken 0.0 in flight with Ryanair in April 2018, the brand is continuing to push the product across the in-flight market. It has featured on KLM’s in-flight beverage menus since October 2019, and Kyriazis said Heineken is in discussions with a British carrier about bringing it on board.

“We do see the ‘low and no’ winning on relevance. Currently, nine percent of global Heineken sales are going to 0.0 and the trend is still growing,” he commented. “Millennials are moderating their drinking behaviors and we … are also educating consumers to moderate their behaviors as part of our ‘enjoy responsibly’ campaign.”

Kyriazis also confirmed that Heineken is now exploring the addition of low- and no-alcohol products to its craft beer portfolio, which Kateryna Vasylchenko, Trade and Category Manager, Global Duty Free, Heineken, recently said accounts for approximately 15% of in-flight beer consumption.