A Day in the Life of a travel retail publisher

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

 “I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade”

– A Day in the Life, John Lennon and Paul McCartney

People often ask me: “What’s a typical day in your working life?”

The short answer is: “There isn’t one.” But that doesn’t really do justice to the question, so I decided last night to track a working day in the life of a travel retail Publisher and Editor.

In between trying to finish off three features for The Moodie Report Print Edition (an increasingly impatient Editor Dermot Davitt is eyeing me up over Skype with all the warmth of an executioner about to behead someone during the French revolution), I’ll try to take you through some of the stories, pressures, highlights and lowlights of 24 hours in travel retail publishing.

I’m going to do it ‘live’ so nothing is retrospectively enhanced or dressed up. If it’s a boring day, so be it.

I’ll start by taking you up to 10.00 London time, and then we’ll go from there. updating a couple of times per hour through the day. Because I am an Antipodean, of course, you will have to read from the bottom up…

{Postscript} By 06.10 Tuesday morning,  24 hours after The Moodie Report broke the Sydney Airport duty free story, our VIP News Alert e-mail had been opened 2,931 times, affirmation of the strong industry interest in the concession.

23.50 A long, long day is drawing to an end. My interview with Dave Wilson, Patrón Spirits Chief Operating Officer, is nearly complete and I’m very happy with it. I’ve opted for the Q&A format, something I use very selectively, because otherwise your media can read like a series of questionnaires. Each to their own. But if the questions and, more importantly, the answers are good, then it can simply bounce off the page. This one does.

Even at this late hour, I’m reading the opposition. My old sparring partner Doug Newhouse of TRB may have missed out on the original news story about new USA land border force Duty Free City, which we broke, but he’s done what all good journalists on the back foot do and gone and got the follow-up interview. First. And it’s good stuff. We all dislike competition but ultimately we need it and sometimes we have to doff our hats to it. Now… time to go one better. I love this job. Thrust and counter thrust all the time. You may lose the odd skirmish. Make sure you win the war. But responsibly.

This just never, ever ends. But with a fine Partagas No 4 from Habanos (my favourite cigar) and a lovely nightcap of a glass of Château Patache d’Aux Médoc 1997 (still drinking beautifully, underlining yet again the complex beauty of aged old world wine versus the seductive, fruit-led allure of new world wines), who’s complaining? It’s time to say goodnight. Another early start, another day in travel retail, beckons.

I have tried to portray a day in the life of a travel retail Publisher and Editor honestly, and as it happened. I hope you have enjoyed it. Now let’s start the whole damn thing again… goodnight.

Postscript: The Sydney Airport duty free story has now generated 2,697 e-mail opens. Not bad at all. It will crack 3,000 easily as Australasia wakes up to the news.

22.15 And the e-mails just keep flowing in. When I created The Moodie Report, I had no idea, none whatsoever, of what a terrible beauty was born. As I write, an excellent note comes in from Dr Patricia Ryan, our North American Bureau Chief (and former Miami International Airport Commercial Director), contributing to The Moodie Report’s pioneering study into airport Wi-Fi (see 15.20 entry).

She was forwarding the views of Los Angeles World Airports Director – Terminals Business Management Dave Jones, who notes: “I see the key considerations for paid and free Wi-Fi as cost and service.  First, the cost of infrastructure to run a Wi-Fi system with appropriate (or acceptable) speed is high. There are two forces that drive this cost, including growth of use of smart devices’ increase of band-width demanded by these devices. 

‘Thus, more users wanting to run more data, requires appropriate band-width and infrastructure to support a decent level of service. The question is how fast is enough for free v. paid. The slower the speed, the less infrastructure requirements.”

You can read much more from Dave Jones and many other airport executives in the study, out soon. Contact Victoria.Bowskill@TheMoodieReport.com for more details.

21.00 Working on an interview with new Patrón Spirits Chief Operating Officer Dave Wilson for our Print Edition. I first met Dave at last October’s Cannes show and was really impressed by both his accessibility and his sheer enthusiasm for the job. Good leaders are critical in infusing members of the team with passion and I suspect he’s just the right personality to pick the company up from where the ebullient, intense John McDonnell left off (I suspect we’ll be hearing more from John soon in travel retail). Watch out for the interview later this month.

Our Sydney Airport duty free story from what seems weeks ago, but is actually only 16 hours past, has now attracted 2,647 page views, a number that is picking up by the minute. Pretty impressive for a story from a relatively isolated market. Our breaking story on the Changi tender results (victories for Shilla and DFS) drew a staggering all-time high of 5,563 opens but remember that was two tenders, and a bigger airport. Also, the Sydney story readership is still climbing. Make no mistake, the industry and the investment community are watching this tender with great interest.

So many talking points. Will Nuance, now shorn of several of its long-term Australian contracts, bother to fight here? If so, to what degree? How will any potential conflict with duty free operations at Auckland Airport across the Tasman Sea, affect the New Zealand gateway’s incumbents DFS and JR/Duty Free in their approach to Sydney? How will the two tender decision timings affect one another? Remember, with both airports offering Arrivals duty free, they are very serious competitors for the antipodean spend. Watch out for this week’s Moodie e-Zine, in which we attempt to grapple with such issues.

Oh, and yes, I have poured myself a glass of good Marlborough wine. It is late. I am tired. But this time it is not Sauvignon Blanc but the superbly well-balanced Black Cottage Pinot Gris 2013. Beg, borrow or steal a bottle. As long as it’s not mine.

18.55 Right, it’s time to head home via the supermarket for the night shift. Over in Galway, Dermot Davitt is also putting in a late one with the Print Edition but really I am now the hold-up with still two features remaining, plus my Publisher’s Comment. On the positive side I’ve managed to complete a major article on Penfolds today, based on my visit to Australia in December. Now it’s over to the subbing and design guys, Jon Elphick and Ray Heath, both freelancers and two of the unsung superstars of The Moodie Report.

Jon subs every word of The Moodie e-Zine, The Moodie Report Print Edition (and supplements), and Moodie Corporate Publications with accuracy and occasional much-needed pedantry. Ray designs and lays out every page with flair and panache. 2am finishes are nothing to them yet they never complain. Priceless.

18.15 Senior Reporter Rahul Odedra is last out of the office, other than me and ‘Captain’ Bob Wilby (my trusty lieutenant since 2002). He’s been tracking industry shares for our daily Moodie Stockwatch tickertape and they make interesting reading. World Duty Free Group was the big faller, down -6.59% today. It seems the main contributor was a downgrading of the stock by Citigroup from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’.

An Italian report says Citigroup believes it “unlikely that WDFG remains an independent company for a long time” and sees it as “more like prey than a predator”.

Citigroup also cut Dufry from ‘neutral’ to ‘sell’ and it ended down -2.88% to a 52-week low of CHF138.20, on the back of rising concerns about several South American economies. Brazil’s economy growth is slowing, hurt by high interest rates and inflation, while Venezuela and Argentina are struggling to cope with rapid inflation and plunging currencies.

17.20 It’s dusk outside The Old Pumping Station and within minutes it will be pitch black at Moodie HQ. Most of the London team will get away on time this evening but it’s not unusual (as Tom Jones would say) to find them here late into the evening. e-Zine press day (make that press night) on Thursday is a particularly tough slog. We (led by Gavin Lipsith) produce 11 of these each quarter, 44 a year, all produced from scratch in around 3 days. That compares with print frequency of 12 or 13 per annum from our competitors, who also have much quieter websites. It also makes for a daunting salary bill but it is money supremely well spent in my view.

I’ll get away around 19.00, cook some dinner, and start up again till the late hours. I used to describe The Moodie Report.com as ‘the website that never sleeps’ and though that might be taking liberties with the English language, it often feels like that. Sleep? Five hours is fine, six a bonus. And hey, as the old saying goes, insomnia is just a disease transmitted from babies to parents.

17.00 The day is nearing an end but as usual there’s no such thing as an average day here, writes Helen Pawson. Some at The Moodie Report call me a ‘Jill of all trades’, which I hope is a compliment.

This morning consisted of tackling the usual Monday morning mass of emails, recording any adverts sold by our super sales team, logging them onto the ad system, chasing (ok, nagging) advertisers for their artwork, a call to clear up an issue with a print advert and a brief Skype chat with Commercial Director Mandy Sime about a niggle with a web advert. This afternoon I’ve been perfecting my writing skills and helping out with the never-ending influx of press releases.

16.00 As in all workplaces, The Moodie Report takes on different rhythms through the day. As Editor of the website, I believe in it being constantly refreshed with new content but you can’t force news to happen. I was expecting another major story to break today but it didn’t. I know exactly what’s going on in this particular case but that knowledge is held in great confidence and involves great trust. Sometimes it’s just as much about what you don’t publish as what you do. I truly believe that is one of the biggest reasons for our success.

It’s now 11.00 in New York but, apart from the early birds, the US West Coast has still to arrive at work. In Hawaii, one of the world’s leading travel retail locations, it’s only just gone 06.00. I remember being so far behind the clock when I was there last year that I felt that I was ahead. Spare a thought for another DFS location, Guam, where it’s just 02.03 in the morning.

The Sydney story has now been opened via e-mail 2,439 times, at least double the amount of copies most print publishers send out. And all read instantly. The power of digital media is awesome. I’d expect a further flurry of traffic late night London time as New Zealand’s and Australia’s working days kick off.

15.20 How to describe a day in the life at The Moodie Report? I’m tasked with driving research projects at The Moodie Report and operating as a team of one, so every day is a busy day, writes Victoria Bowskill-Shanks.

Today, my time is taken up making adjustments to our forthcoming pioneering study on airport Wi-Fi, an in-depth look at the various service provision models at airports around the world. I’m compiling responses from several airport commercial directors who have provided us with their take on the pros and cons of offering a free service to passengers. But, like everyone else in this office, I never seem to be able to devote my time solely to one endeavour. We’re all avid multi-taskers, and I have also been busy Skyping a research partner about another upcoming project focusing on airport car parking – a huge source of revenue, and one that is curiously untapped in some markets. I’m spending a lot of time working on  presentation this week, to make a data-heavy subject accessible and useful.

Before the day is out, I will also have brainstormed some ideas for my weekly Stock Watch column which features in Thursday’s e-Zine. All this between eating copious amounts of cake left over from a charity coffee morning on Saturday [it’s cold though – you can’t have your cake and heat it at The Moodie Report – Ed]. It’s non-stop at Moodie HQ.

14.40  Now we’re all at it, writes Matt Willey. This morning was concerned primarily with finalising and negotiating approval from a (quite-rightly) demanding sales team, for a re-imaginging of our weekly e-Newsletter. We are aiming to bring a more visually engaging and contemporary feel to one of our core products.

It is key that everyone who works on that product feels it is working well for clients, readers and us, so we like to keep things evolving and fresh – nothing is ever the finished article.

This afternoon – if Martin ever lets me finish my chicken salad lunch (all good preparation for the charity cycle ride), we will be producing more of our Moodie ByteSize short-form news updates using the Instagram social media platform. Just go to www.Instagram.com and follow TheMoodieReport and you’ll see what it’s all about. 

14.30 I have decided to gatecrash today’s Blog, writes Rebecca Mann, given that a) I’ve been frantically proofing it anyway, and b) my ears were burning (never before have I been compared to Barry John – such flattery). I don’t get online quite as early as my colleagues Martin and Dermot, largely because of the daily, manic juggle of the school run and everything it entails (mostly squabbling children, lost shoes, packed lunches, permission slips, homework diaries and, in February, the inevitable hunt for three, hole-free umbrellas). 7-9am is a whirlwind of domestic activity chez Mann, fuelled by strong tea, adrenaline and occasionally, much sotte voce swearing (mine). Frankly, I come to work for a rest (joke. I think).

I do plenty of late-night shifts instead though, and I am usually online at weekends too. In the run-up to our Cannes deadlines last year I’m not convinced I actually left my desk for 72 hours straight. Not that I’m complaining. The visionary business model of The Moodie Report, which allows me to work flexibly around my family commitments, is something I never cease to appreciate. I came onboard pretty early on, in May 2003, swelling the staff ranks to the princely sum of three (the third ‘Musketeer’ was Bob Wilby, now Chief Operating Officer, and still the glue that holds the company together). It was just as hectic in those early days, albeit in different ways. Let’s just say there were so few of us that we were certainly able to showcase our versatility. In the absence of an advertising team, I even managed to sell the outer back cover of our inaugural Print Edition – my first and only foray into sales to date.

In short, the phrase ‘that’s not my job’ has no place at Moodie HQ – or indeed at any of its international outposts. Whatever needs to be done, gets done, by whomever is available to do it. There is no such thing as a typical day for any of us. This Blog aside, so far I’ve proofed a print feature, replied to an avalanche of emails, written up and put live on the website a couple of product stories, sponsored a colleague, identified and pitched an idea for this week’s e-Zine, edited a deputy’s copy, researched my questions for a key interview I’ll be doing in LA next month and started to write up a feature for our March Print Edition. And by my standards, that’s a mighty quiet Monday…

13.43 After that hectic start, it’s been a slow news day, a godsend as we try to get our Print Edition completed. I remember in the early days of The Moodie Report when we had far, far, fewer resources and I would practically get down on my knees and pray for no stories to break that would require web posting during crunch time on the then-fledgling Print Edition.

I’ve just taken a nice call from Fatima Bucheeri, Marketing Manager at Bahrain Duty Free, letting me know about a big new promotion in which the retailer is giving away US$100,000 in shopping vouchers. It’s good to see Bahrain Duty Free being so proactive in reenergising the business after a very tough time in the wake of the country’s well-documented political turmoil.

So what happens when we receive a story like that? As much as possible we work on a ‘copy in, copy up (on our website)’ policy, depending, of course, on the merits of the story and the volume of work we have on.  If it’s a brand company that is ever rude to our advertising staff (as some are, despite being the masters of the press release), it just goes into the e-bin.

Our new Brands Editor Sarah Lysecki (a Canadian) has just snapped up the story, while one of her colleagues will take care of the art. One of the most important ways we have transformed industry publishing over the past 12 years is our use of multiple images. It’s a far cry from my days as an Editor of a print magazine (DFNI) when we might squeeze one or at the most two images onto a page. Now we can publish extensive picture galleries, enlarged images (Matt Willey invented The Moodie Magnifier, which does just that), and stories imbedded with video and audio.

To really report on retail, food & beverage and brands, we believe you have to see what the consumer can see.

13.33 The Sydney VIP Alert has now been opened 2,203 times and North America is yet to come online. Meanwhile Dermot Davitt is plugging away in Galway, trying to get the Print Edition wrapped up. It’s a record January/February edition in terms of pages, revenue and (in our view at least) quality. Pity about my three remaining features…

12.57  Executive Director Business Development and Innovation (or EDBDI as he likes to call himself after a pint or two) Matt Willey sends out a group e-mail to the staff asking for us to sponsor him the ‘Wiggle Dragon Ride 2014’ to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. By the sounds of the title I fear that he may have been smoking something funny this weekend but actually it’s very real, a major cycling test of endurance. Not surprisingly, I suppose, given my experience of recent years, we are very passionate about supporting cancer research and cancer care. Count me in for £100 Matt. Anyone else who wants to support, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/MattWilleyUK 

12.30 Since my last post, I have made my way to the office where the team is hard at work as always. 11 of us are based in the UK office, with the balance of the other 20-odd (though none of them are that odd) staff scattered around the UK, Ireland, Dubai, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand. We are preparing our own version of those luxury retail brands’ shopping bags that say ‘London, Paris, Shanghai’ etc with one that reads ‘Brentford, Galway and Essex’.

My in-box is straining under the weight of press releases, which I distribute like a great All Black scrum half to appropriate members of my backline, sorry… team. To continue the rugby analogy, when I fuss about poor press releases to Rebecca Mann, like her Barry John to my Gareth Edwards, she just says, “You throw it, I’ll catch it.” She’s never dropped the ball yet.

However, as I have started on the subject of press releases, let me continue. I suspect public relations is the only professional field on this planet where the supplier (the public relations executive) writes to their key distributor (the press) and in around 90% of cases does not even top their message with a ‘Dear Martin/Rebecca/Dermot etc’, or even a token acknowledgement that they are sending it to anything other than a black hole.

Some manage a token ‘Hi’ or even, abysmally, ‘Hi Ya’ in another dumbing down of the English language to which they contribute a disproportionate amount. The exceptions (certainly for retailers) are the in-house PR executives but far too many an agency charges their client good money for barely disguised gobbledlygook full of bad English; quotes that no-one in their lifetime would ever possibly say; misspellings; lack of critical information such as launch date, target markets and price point; and 30 minutes of my precious reporters’ time trying to turn it into some form of sense. 

Many of the worst culprits also handle the advertising accounts for their clients, which to my mind is wrong. Sure, with a class agency that understands the specific nature of the media but not for those who feel because they have some sort of ‘leverage’ over the media, they can throw out any sort of gibberish, addressed to no-one, and then demand that it appears. In my case it does appear – in my bin, kept next to my desk for the very purpose.

As I write, a press release from a French beauty house has arrived by e-mail. There is of course no greeting. I have no name. I am a non-person. I know the sender’s name because she bothered to sign it, though many don’t do that either. Perhaps I should get one of my new reporters to simply write back to the same house’s President, not address him by name and simply say, “To celebrate our 12th year in business, we have just voted your company’s press release issued this morning as the worst of the year to date”.

11.14 A pre-breakfast shower and shave. The latter was not pleasant. It never is. I actually have to sneak up to my mirror, so unforgiving is it. As my dear old mother (RIP) used to say: “Marty, with a face like your’s, you’ll have to be on radio.”

Bacon and eggs gets me as close to normality as I’ll ever be but the combination of e-mail pings (17 while I was in the shower, don’t people have any decency?) and Skype fire is giving me tinnitus. Out in Dubai Commercial Director Mandy Sime e-mails to say she’s signed off this year’s partnership with Nestlé, a great supporter for many years.

My philosophy to publishing has always been ‘Build it and they will come’? Eh? Sorry but I loved the movie (Field of Dreams) and can’t avoid alluding to it. What I mean is that we’re about content, first, second and third. Maybe even fourth thrown in for good measure. Advertising (or in our case business partnerships) follows. It’s not and never ever should be the other way round. Journalists sell magazines, media packs don’t.

With our free model (no subscription fees, passwords or padlocks), we have to make our money somewhere though. And apart from research and conference revenue, we do make it through advertising. Without the brilliant support we get from the Nestlés and Furlas (also finalised today by the redoubtable Mrs Sime), that free service wouldn’t just be difficult, it would be impossible.

Time to head to The Old Pumping Station… 

10.58 Time for breakfast. Will you please STOP e-mailing me for 10 minutes?

10.52 What a brilliant chat with Patrick Bouchard of Puig. He’s asked The Moodie Report to be Puig’s exclusive travel retail partner in conveying the company’s centennary celebrations throughout 2014. I’m even going down to the Puig Vela Clasica, one of the world’s great yacht regattas, in Barcelona (well not actually in Barcelona but off its shores). I’m the perfect choice for the job – after all, everyone knows what great sailors Kiwis are. What other nation could lead the Americas Cup 8-1 against the might of the USA? 

10.41 My Skype is going off like sniper fire all around me. Dermot is chasing my copy, I am chasing my tail. My assistant Rebecca Earley is asking when I am coming into the office and I am trying not to reply with CAPITAL LETTERS as that means I am SHOUTING. She is, of course, by definition always Earley whereas I am, by character defect, always late. I need a camomile tea. Nuance’s Roberto Graziani told me last time I saw him that it’s good for calming. The trouble is, I don’t DO calm.

10.01 Oh no it’s not…

I forgot about a conference call with Patrick Bouchard of Puig Travel Retail. This year is the 100th anniversary of this great Spanish company and we’ve got some good ideas in terms of coverage. Patrick will have, too, I know. He’s one of the best people in this industry, innovative, dynamic and driven but absolutely humble and courteous at all times. I often wonder at how many really fine people this business attracts. I have a theory that the very internationalism of travel retail means that it lures people who can get on with others from all cultures. I tell Patrick I will ring him straight back.

10.00 1,767 opens! Hell’s bells. It’s time for breakfast, a shower and shave and then a quick dash to the Old Pumping Station where all the team are now no doubt pumping out plenty of their own copy. Apart from coffee top-ups and CD changes, I haven’t moved from my spot all morning. For a change of pace I’m now listening to The Lumineers ‘Ho hey’. Let’s flip it to ‘Hey ho, Hey ho.’ Yes, it’s off to work I go…

09.56: Sorry for the intermission but I’ve been trying to complete a feature story on the brilliant new Penfolds boutique at (as fate would have it) Sydney Airport. I can hear thunder from Dermot’s office in Galway and for once it’s not the west coast weather. Any chance of another day’s extension Dermot? I see from Skype that all my colleagues are online, including those off-site such as Executive Director – Editorial Rebecca Mann in deepest, darkest Essex. Try calling Rebecca an Essex girl though and you’ll feel you’ve been run over by the Welsh rugby team’s forward pack. It’s a Mann’s world, as she never ceases to remind me. 

08.02 1,105 page views. We are through the 1,000 barrier and flying. E-mails are starting to flow in from continental Europe and as one part of the travel retail world goes to sleep, another wakes. I still haven’t had time to stop for breakfast but the coffee is doing its job. Some lovely Janacek played by the great Rudolf Firkusny (don’t try saying it after too many Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs) keeps me calm and balances the caffeine rush.

07.43 We’re up to 906 opens and it’s already clear that there’s big, big interest in the Sydney story. Our Auckland traffic, too, has been almost as busy as the Kiwi gateway itself. The battle for Australasian (why not NewZealandasian by the way?) is truly on. Great to see the very talented Lucy Thomas entrusted with driving the tender in Auckland. One of my favourite memories of being in my homeland for the 2011 Rugby World Cup (won by the All Blacks just for the record) was staying in a house in Auckland with John and Karl Sutcliffe (now with DFS in Hong Kong) and Colm and Breeda McLoughlin – yes, four Irish and the son of an Irishwoman together was a recipe for the best craic ever – and inviting famous New Zealand folk singer Phil Garland to play in our lounge to all of us, plus the commercial team from Auckland Airport (including Lucy and Adrian Littlewood, who is now CEO). I wanted to give my great Irish friends a taste of New Zealand culture and it was an unforgettable evening.

07.08 I’ve still got an internal business to run, and I send out a staff memo asking them all to read the website today as it’s packed with important stuff. Our great ad team make it their business to read what we write as avidly as any reporter, so they’re making an informed sell rather than just approaching potential partners (a much nicer word than advertisers) with a media pack and asking for money. 

We’re as good as our weakest link and I include a reminder to all journalists to spell-check and fact-check religiously. Just because you can correct web copy quickly is no justification for it being sloppy in the first place. Due to the speed at which we work, mistakes will happen. But diligence will limit them.

I note TRB has now got hold of some of the Sydney story too. Told you that Doug Newhouse never sleeps.

06.55 Just to give you an idea of the variety of stories (and sources) we have, an e-mail has just arrived from Andrew Jones, who handles external communication at Erbil International Airport in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. I knew Andrew when he was at Abu Dhabi International Airport and it’s good to see him doing well in a new location. This is a story about record international passenger numbers in 2013. While not on the Sydney level, it still counts. Remember there’s retail and food & beverage activities at every airport, and suppliers servicing all those accounts. Know your audience is a golden rule.

06.48 Dermot’s minding the fort on other news stories, while juggling a difficult press day on print. There’s plenty happening and I’m well on the way to my average daily quota of 300 e-mails. Sydney’s now been opened 432 times. That’s 165 in the last 12 minutes, a rate that will pick up as Europe starts work. The Sydney contract is sure to interest certain European retailers – Nuance, of course, but also Heinemann (through its Asia operation based in Singapore); World Duty Free Group; and perhaps Dufry. Much will hang on the contract duration (to be revealed soon), I suspect.

06.36 The Sydney story has now been opened 267 times, plus the number of viewings it has had from people logging in to the site as per normal. That’s around 15 opens per minute. I love to watch the world wake up in this business. It (and I) start with Australia and Asia in the morning (their afternoons) and then see the Middle East, Africa and Europe come alive. Later it’s the Americas and (late in my evening) it all starts over again as my fellow Kiwis get to work.

06.28 125 ‘opens’ already. I check our opposition again. Our big Auckland story from Friday is yet to break elsewhere but is now down in our second key slot. News moves fast. And though we break more news stories than the rest of the industry media put together we try to avoid words like ‘exclusive’, which have been commoditised by overuse and exaggeration.

06.18 The VIP’s done, tested and… gone. At a keystroke out to 8,035 e-mails, a list we constantly ‘clean’. Incredible really, isn’t it? I remember being at DFNI in the early days with Doug Newhouse with its then frequency of 22 times a year (now 13) and we were considered by the industry to be absolutely on the pulse, even though readers had to wait for the postman to deliver the magazine days or weeks later. Then we invented ‘Fax Flash’, followed by the first-ever e-mail breaking news service. Now you can see where the idea for The Moodie Report came from.

To show how much times have changed, I remember signing a six-month non-compete agreement with DFNI’s then owner Euromoney back in 2002, and they failed to mention digital/electronic publishing in the document. Days later, as an afterthought, they asked me if I would allow it to be included. The answer was the English equivalent of ‘Non’ and so the whole damn thing began.

Today a press release can come in to my in-box and it will be ‘live’ within less than five minutes, replete with imagery. We have no fewer than five of our team who spend much of their working days on the images/graphics parts of The Moodie Report. It costs a lot but it’s worth it.

06.02 Story live with a single keystroke! Our web traffic is amazing (we had an all-time record 85,348 page views – the number of times a page is viewed on our site – in January’s peak week) but for a story as big as this, you can’t just wait for readers to come to you. I prepare a ‘VIP News Alert’, a concept we pioneered a few years back and which ranks as our of biggest successes. BPI has been the solus sponsor for all that time and they’ve used the medium highly effectively. Preparing an alert like this in the early hours when I do not have support at the office is not my favourite job. There are lots of messy bits to remember and you have to ensure that you’re sending the right story, correctly hyperlinked, to the right audience.

People who knew me before I launched The Moodie Report are amazed that I run a successful and very digitally advanced multi-media company. The old joke about the man who used Tipex to correct his on-screen mistakes isn’t that far from the truth in relation to MM 2001-vintage.

Of course that great transformation didn’t just happen. Besides Dilantha we have the amazing Matt Willey, based at the Old Pumping Station and guru of all things digital at The Moodie Report. Matt’s driven all our major digital innovations of recent years, including ‘Moodie Live’ at the trade shows (which I love), our new Moodie InstaByte service launched last week, the digital version of our Print Edition (the first of its kind), and many others. We watch ‘big media’ such as BBC and anything that’s good enough for them, we want too. And some of Matt’s work ranks as world-leading.

06.00 The Sydney story’s ready, it’s time to go live. We work on a CMS (Content Management System) built for a technological idiot. Yes, me. It’s all pragmatism and speed and as possibly the world’s most impractical man I have to be able to work it. Our web guru is Dilantha Fernando, a Sri Lankan based in Brisbane, Australia. A great guy, he knows exactly how I need things to work and just sighs and smiles understandingly when I ask him for the impossible – then makes it happen. ‘Can you hear the drums Fernando?’ is my favourite song line (though not his) as I bang on about something again.

05.30 As always, I check out a few key websites. BBC and Sky News for the macro picture (travel retail is a sub-set of the travel and tourism sectors, so I’m always watching out for anything that affects these industries); and our opposition, Travel Retail Business (TRB) and DFNI. I make it a golden rule to my team, always respect the opposition. Always find out what they are doing, every few minutes. TRB’s Doug Newhouse and I go back a long way. At DFNI I worked for him, he worked for me, and then we both went out on our own and never looked back. We have our differences but he’s got a genuine passion for this industry and a work ethic like almost no-one I know. Occasionally we’ll have a drink together away from the public eye and curse each other for forcing the other one to work such long hours. I won’t say what time I normally start work as he’ll set his alarm 15 minutes earlier.

My partner in crime, Dermot Davitt, is also an early riser. Without him, things would be like my early one-man days when, even on holiday by the pool, I would have to have my laptop open to write stories as they came in. He’s an amazing asset and a class act. He’s been hard to live with though since he won the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup. Clearly not working hard enough…

05.20 The morning is well underway. As always, I have the wonderful Claire Jones (former Royal Harpist and official Clogau Gold ambassador) on my music player first thing. The album is called ‘The Girl with the Golden Harp’ and I think it’s just about the most beautiful, calming music in my several hundred strong CD collection. Many in the industry will remember Claire playing at The Moodie Report’s Charity Ball in Hong Kong a couple of years back. I certainly do. Claire played my favourite piece of opera music that night (Dvorak’s Song to the Moon from Rusalka) and dedicated it to me. Unforgettable.

I’m focused entirely on a big (make that huge) breaking story from Sydney, where the airport has announced (through us initially) that it is putting its duty free tender out to RFP. There’s an embargo on the story and those are sacrosanct, as any good journalist will tell you. But all the preparation can be done now.

It’s a really interesting one. Sydney Airport’s General Manager, Retail Andrew Gardiner has put a huge amount of effort into this RFP and I suspect we’re going to see a very innovative approach to the process. There’s even the prospect of separate retailers for Arrivals and Departures, as well as a few options for creative bidding.

Sceptics always say the Trinity debate goes nowhere but it simply isn’t true. Actually I think sceptics never go anywhere. Forward-thinking airport commercial minds such as Andrew (an ex-retailer himself both on the High Street and in travel retail, with DFS) spend a great deal of time trying to create mutual upside for airport and concessionaire. Look out too for next week’s Retailing Marketing Launch for Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Midfield Terminal and you’ll witness some of the most partnership-driven thinking the industry has ever experienced.

05.05: Morning coffee made, strong, white, agave syrup instead of sugar (more Doctor’s orders). My ‘desk’ is the dining room table in my flat in Brentford, just a four-minute walk away from Moodie HQ at The Old Pumping Station. The latter is a great old Victorian Building but I won’t tell you what it used to pump.

05.00 I really, really hate it when I wake earlier than early! But as many of you will know, when you have to get up for a crazily timed flight, for example, chances are your sleep will be restless and the alarm redundant. No point in waiting another quarter of an hour, it’s time for the morning shift. It’s pitch black outside on a cold London February morning (is there any other kind of London morning in February?), but there’s a gorgeous ripple of lights from the flats around the marina area I look over.

00.30 Call it a night after a busy Sunday evening writing features for Dermot, and preparing a major news story the next day. Being a Sunday, I have had the odd glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to keep the creative juices flowing. During my illness a few years back my Doctor always recommended grapes and water and I think I’ve mastered the combination. Set the Blackberry alarm for 05.15. I know it’s going to be a busy day.

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