Bringing it all back home post-Orlando

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

No more Interim Moodie Davitt Report Bureaux for… at least a week.

I’ve arrived home in London after a crazy but wonderful four weeks on the road. Hong Kong, Hainan Island, Seoul, Incheon, London (48 hours), Reykjavik, London (overnight), Orlando. My neighbours must have believed I was a burglar.

Spring has sprung here in London and I’m glad I’m here enough long enough to embrace it. The cherry tree in my front garden is radiant with blossom, the hilly avenue opposite my front door awash in a sea of brilliant daffodil-laden yellow. But even those blooms are already fading. I have been away too long.

While happy to be home, I’m also basking in the memory of the places and people I’ve seen in the past few weeks. The energy of Hong Kong and Hainan; the vibrancy and volatility of Seoul; the wonderfully warm welcome in ice-cold Reykjavik (how sad to see the collapse of Icelandic budget carrier Wow Air this week); and the chance to catch up with so many contacts from North, Central and South America as well as from around the world in Florida.

You’ll hear much feedback from the Duty Free & Travel Retail Summit of the Americas via stories quoting exhibitor and buyer numbers. Here, I prefer to focus on the bigger picture. Trade exhibitions and conferences have a big battle on their hands to remain sufficiently relevant in an age of immediate digital connectivity between buyer and seller. Factor in intense corporate pressure on time and costs (actual and opportunity) and the sustained corporate consolidation of recent years (at retailer and supplier level) and you have the formula for fewer buyers and fewer suppliers (at least the biggest ones).

Rather than wither on the vine – for that is indeed what was happening with its long-time exhibition – IAADFS chose to shake up its formula, location and ‘ownership’ (turning it last year into a partnership with South American Duty Free Association Asutil as the newly named Duty Free & Travel Retail Summit of the Americas).

I must admit to being briefly worried at the beginning of the week that IAADFS and Asutil had not only changed the venue but the show itself.

For its part, Asutil gave up its annual conference to become part of something bigger and more pan-regional, albeit with a daily conference component. Three days of the show now begin with short workshops before the exhibition opens. This year offered a new and much, much better venue (the Hyatt Regency Orlando) and the opportunity for bigger brands to take private suites near the exhibition.

Will such initiatives be enough to secure the event’s survival? In the near term probably. In the longer term, the answer comes back to the issue of relevance. How to make the undoubted value of face-to-face meetings and brand showcasing sufficiently attractive in the face of the pressures cited above? Other trade exhibitions face similar issues, though the latter may be masked by the fact that certain shows take place in more buoyant regions than the Americas.

Even Baselworld (which took place this month), for so long a ‘must attend’ show for the international watch community, is feeling the heat. The biggest exhibitor, Swiss watches giant Swatch Group, quit the 102 year-old show last year, questioning its costs and relevance.

The FT wrote, “Market-watchers say the relevance of trade fairs is fading in a digital era with more direct relationships between brands and consumers.” Baselworld owner MCH Group last year appointed a new Managing Director, Michel Loris-Melikoff, to reengineer the event, by transforming it for the digital age, review costs and improve exhibitor relationships. Loris-Melikoff told the FT that he would even consider taking the show on the road. “It could make sense to use this strong presence in Miami, but of course it could also be in other cities,” he said.

It pays to be well-groomed at a trade show these days.
On century duty: Remarkably, these two men each celebrate their 50th year in duty free during 2019. Colm McLoughlin (left) is Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free and an ever-present force since the retailer’s founding in 1983. Louis Snelders is President of Duty Free Shop in Puerto Rico and a long-time member of the IAADFS board. 100 years of great collective service to our industry between them. A tremendous feat.
The daily workshops worked well in Orlando. But perhaps they would have been best confined to fuller sessions on two days rather than being spread over three.
I had the considerable honour of moderating one of the best panel discussions I have heard at an industry conference. And not a powerpoint presentation in sight. Pictured from right to left by me are Yannick Raynaud, Managing Director Duty Free & Travel Retail Americas, L’Oréal; Marshall Farrer, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide; Mariana Stangl, Worldwide Duty Free Corporate Affairs and Communications Manager, JT International; and Rene Riedi, Divisional CEO Latin America & Caribbean, Dufry America.

Erasmo Orillac, CEO of Motta Internacional and Chairman of IAADFS (left); and Gustavo Fagundes, CEO of Dufry do Brasil and Bolivia, and President, ASUTIL (right) join me and Yannick Raynaud, Marshall Farrer, Mariana Stangl and Rene Riedi in declaring the show officially open.

TFWA has the two most buoyant exhibitions in the travel retail sector – its Asia Pacific show in Singapore and its World Exhibition in Cannes. The association’s insistence on keeping its global event in a small French city some distance away from a regional airport has always been built around the image Cannes offers, the suitability of the Palais complex, and the ability to bring the industry together in a setting that offers coherence and class.

A case perhaps of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But Cannes also means heavy travel and entertainment costs, highly questionable accommodation value, and onerous time demands for those from outside Europe, in particular. Operators of legacy models have a habit of believing the ‘ain’t broke’ part of the equation until… well, until it is broke. It’s happened in numerous sectors this century (retail, taxis, music, media – travel retail publishing being a prime example – to name a few). If I was to become President of TFWA in the future, I would push hard to move the show from Cannes, not because it’s broke (it remains a roaring success, in fact), but to make it more future-proof.

But the FT also offers an important insight into why trade shows such as those in Cannes and Orlando still have a positive future if they can maintain relevance. Its report quoted Jean-Claude Biver, President of LVMH Group’s watch division, who said, “Last year, Hublot sold SFr135m of watches in seven days. That’s SFr20m a day, SFr2.5m per hour. Where else do you get that kind of business? It cost us about SFr3.5m to be there last year. People look too much at what it costs and not what it brings back.

The italics are mine. The latter point is what the successful event organisers of the future (and I include our own events, The Trinity Forum and The Airport Food & Beverage Conference & Awards) must focus on like never before. What does it bring back?

SCENES FROM A SHOW: THROUGH THE ORLANDO LENS

Anyone for Tee: What a way to start the week via a round of golf at the beautiful Celebration Golf Club in Orlando, together with Michael Payne of IAADFS, Colm McLoughlin of Dubai Duty Free and veteran industry supplier Art Miller.
Straight and true: The inimitable McLoughlin swing sends another drive down the centre of the fairway.
Michael Payne from IAADFS might have taken the money from me on the golf course earlier in the day but typical of his generosity he decided to donate it to travel retail industry cause Hand in Hand for Haiti.
As always, the Friday night before the show was a wonderful occasion as long-time IAADFS President and pioneer of North American duty free David Bernstein (head of the table) hosted a dinner for long-time friends.
This year the legendary Harry Diehl of Gebr Heinemann could not make the annual Friday night dinner. So why not call him in the middle of the night European time to tell him we miss him? Joe Lyons, another travel retail legend, sends his best wishes to a distinctly sleepy Harry. IAADFS’s Michael Payne looks on a mite nervously, knowing he may have to answer to Harry next year.
The Irish connection is never far away in travel retail and that was certainly the case at the IAADFS/ASUTIL private reception. Left to right are fellow Irishmen and women Colm McLoughlin (Dubai Duty Free); Jackie McDonagh (Aer Rianta International North America); Breeda McLoughlin (Dubai Duty Free); the evening’s bartender Seamus, whom, you guessed it, hails from Ireland; and Jacques Dagenais (Aer Rianta International North America).
With Dufry Brazil and Bolivia CEO and President of ASUTIL Gustavo Fagundes at the Opening Cocktail.
International Shoppes President Michael Halpern is one of the truly influential figures of duty free in the USA over recent years and it’s good to see that he’s going stronger than ever.
Nice to catch up with Heinemann Americas CEO Nadine Heubel and King Power Group (HK) Travel Retail & Duty Free Managing Director Sunil Tuli.

Some of the many outstanding women in our industry gathered for the Women in Travel Retail (WiTR) event on Sunday evening.
While three of The Moodie Davitt Report’s own outstanding team of women, Colleen Morgan, Irene Revilla and Sarah Genest, celebrate completing the Essence Corp-sponsored fun walk/run, which this year raised funds for travel retail charity Hand in Hand for Haiti.

And this is the bit that brutal cost assessments of trade shows tend to neglect, the incalculable element of the human touch. Here I am pictured with Breeda and Colm McLoughlin of Dubai Duty Free.
With Chase Donaldson, the ex-corporate drinks man who had the guts, daring and vision to found his own company, the highly successful Chase International. Many a brand owes much to this man.
Sunil Tuli of King Power Group (Hong Kong) and long-time industry supplier Art Miller take some time out from their hectic schedules.
Is this man travel retail’s ultimate entrepreneur? As usual Sandro Bottega, the irrepressible founder of Prosecco producer Bottega (and owner of a wide range of wines and spirits) was tireless in his efforts to make a trade show work for him. Many exhibitors could learn much from the way he approaches such events.
Make mine a High-neken: Colm and Breeda McLoughlin meet a highly mobile drinks waiter.
The legendary Joe Lyons, who has served the industry so well and so faithfully (through DFS) since the early 1960s (and is still on the IAADFS Board), with The Moodie Davitt Report’s own trusty servant, Rhodes-based Associate Editor Colleen Morgan.
With Carlos Loaiza, Secretary General and Advisor to the Chamber of Free Shops of Uruguay (CEFSU), and Enrique Urioste, CEO of Neutral Duty Free Shops in Uruguay and an ASUTIL board member.
Having spotted my proclivity for wearing the well-named Happy Socks on stage (think dazzling technicolour then multiply ten-fold), Carlos sourced this brilliant blue and yellow pair (not Happy Socks but certainly not miserable ones either) – definitely my choice for next year’s Orlando event. Presenting them to me are ASUTIL’s José Luis Donagaray and Inés Sisto Patrón.
Blinded by the light: The bright reflection from my Happy Socks causes me to remove my glasses at a critical point of the day one panel discussion.
Nice to catch up with Helen Chater, the new Publisher at our most-respected rival, DFNI + Frontier. Both they and we are hosting charity dinners in coming weeks (DFNI/Frontier in London, The Moodie Davitt Report in Singapore) and we agreed that we will support each other’s events. The DFNI ball has been running since the late 90s (I launched it during my term as Managing Director there to help raise funds in the battle to preserve intra-EU duty free – yes, I know, I’m showing my age) and has raised a lot of money for some wonderful causes since.
An appropriate tri-lingual sign-off from Michael Payne and José Luis Donagaray as the 2019 Summit of the Americas ends.

 

 

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  • Great blog Martin. I see strong parallels between offline retail and tradeshows. The latter being the B2B appearance within the shared phenomenon of digital disruption. In theory the same connections & transactions could be made both on- and offline. The question is indeed what the effort of visiting real-life, offline locations does ‘bring back’, in addition to online possibilities.

    Good physical retail will not go away, bad retail will. I think the same applies to tradehows.