Having just made my plane once more (I just don’t seem to function without a ridiculous deadline) this Blog begins at around 31,000 feet above Wuhan, China. Punctuated by a few snoozes and the occasional glass of the elegant and creamy Saint-Véran Pierre André 2011 and (maybe later) the crisp, grapefruit-led 2012 Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, my best guess is that it will likely finish somewhere between Novosibirsk, Siberia and central Europe.
I’m nearing the end of a long yet short, draining yet enthralling journey that has taken me over the past week from London to Hong Kong to Sydney to Adelaide to the Barossa Valley (by car); back to Adelaide to Sydney to Hong Kong to Macau (by ferry) to Hong Kong (by helicopter) and (now) finally to London. Planes, trains (Sydney airport between terminals), automobiles, cars and helicopters – I’m in touch with Steve Martin already to see if he’s interested in a movie script.
As mentioned in my last Blog, I have been fortunate enough over recent days to experience three examples of consummate excellence in travel retail – 1) the opening of the world’s first stand-alone Penfolds airport wine store (at Sydney International) by brand-owner Treasury Wine Estates in conjunction with Nuance Australia and Sydney Airports Corporation Limited; 2) the Masters of Time exhibition at T Galleria by DFS in Macau and 3) the exquisite new DFS luxury spirits zone at Hong Kong International Airport.
As my flight nears Ulan Bator (I promise I don’t write that slowly, I’m also answering what seems like and probably is a million e-mails and editing a film script on Dubai Duty Free’s 30th anniversary), it strikes me that a handful of common factors made these openings and events stand out.
First was the desire to innovate, to stand apart from the pack; second was the degree of genuine collaboration between either two or three of the Trinity stakeholders; third was the quality of the product offering; fourth the quality of the retail execution; and fifth the sheer boldness of ideas.
I am privileged to witness all those factors come together in three great executions of very different kinds within the space of a few days. Oh, let’s add a sixth – the overriding passion of the people involved in each case.
I probably need to wear an armour suit akin to that of the ‘knight’ on the Roger Dubuis stand (below, with DFS Senior Vice President, General Merchandise Manager, Watches, Jewelry and Accessories Christophe Chaix) at Masters of Time for all the flak that the Trinity concept has attracted down the years but I truly believe it has taken wings and is now in full flight.
No, I don’t believe (as I perhaps once naively did) that the Trinity formula and debate can (always) resolve the sector’s financial and structural flaws. But it can – and must – champion the idea that 1+1+1 can equal a much greater number than three, not only for the sake of each of the stakeholders but also for the sake of the end consumer; and that it can promote and champion excellence on a scale previously undreamed of.
We’ve reached my favourite Blog haunt of Novosibirsk. First that drop of Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc I promised myself and then a drop off to some much-needed sleep.