Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Back in Basel as the beat goes on for Dufry - January 25, 2020
- Doing the right thing in Switzerland - January 22, 2020
- How a tale of unrequited love inspired a business empire - January 21, 2020
I wish I was homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing…
I’ve sung those Paul Simon lyrics to myself (and quoted them here) many times over the past 17 years – yes, it’s our 17th birthday this month – but this time I really am homeward bound. To my real home, that is, not my adopted one. I’m headed for New Zealand, Aotearoa – the land of the long white cloud. And of course, of the dark black cloud that is about to descend over the other teams contesting the Rugby World Cup in Japan that starts this week. Black as in All Blacks.
Despite me now being fully kitted out for the tournament, as you can see above, Japan will have to wait. I’ll be heading there in late October for the semi-finals with that ever-hopeful Englishman, Jonathan ‘Chaps’ Holland, whose land of hope but not much glory in recent World Cups may just be in with a serious chance this time around. Then again, you might say the same about South Africa, Wales, Ireland, Australia and France. And Argentina, Fiji and Scotland might upset a few oval-shaped applecarts along the way.
My destination is Auckland, after a six-hour transit at Hong Kong International Airport. To stay with matters rugby for a moment, I have not visited the city of sails since the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup there in 2011 – their first triumph since the inaugural tournament in 1987. 24 years of despair and then, like London buses, two come along in quick succession, with a follow-up triumph in 2015. Can they manage a ‘three-peat’ (#AllBlacks3peat)?
With two of their key players crocked (one out of the tournament altogether) and much of their depth drained by the fat chequebooks of English, French and Japanese clubs, the task looks tougher than climbing Mt Everest. But then remember the nationality of the man who first did that…
But the main purpose of my visit is not to watch rugby. It is to report on a key brand launch and I am thrilled a) that it is taking place in my homeland and b) that we have been asked to cover it exclusively. I can’t talk about the launch yet – I will, at length, very soon – but I can promise you that it is a major event in travel retail terms.
I am flying to Auckland onboard Cathay Pacific, almost my home for the past few weeks as I have taken so many long-haul flights with them. This is my eighth week out of nine on the road and Cathay has been my main carrier during most of those journeys. They have one of the best wifi systems in the sky and for the first time ever, I chose my carrier this time based purely on that criteria. Which airline could keep me connected for longest and with the best line speed? Cathay won hands down. I suspect I am not the only travel retail executive deciding that connectivity is key to choice of carrier.
The reason I must have wifi on this trip is simple. This is production week on our biggest print edition of the year, published to coincide with TFWA World Exhibition, by some distance the flagship event in the travel retail industry calendar. I doubt whether that title’s Editor, my business partner Dermot Davitt, was too enamoured when he learned that I would be on a plane to New Zealand this week with numerous features still to write and War and Peace levels of proof reading to do. Wifi to the rescue.
As long as it works. Or at least in my case, as long as my laptop works. Two hours out of Hong Kong, my laptop did a passable impersonation of the parrot in the famous Monty Python sketch. In fact, the only thing flapping was me. I decided that the inflight power system must be at fault and resolved to recharge the life and death proposition that is my laptop in the Cathay Pacific lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. Alas, that proved equally futile. My laptop resisted all attempts at CPR. Either it or the charger was no longer for this world. I suspected (and prayed for) the latter.
Crisis. With a capital C. All my Cannes issue material on the laptop. All the background information for my big Auckland assignment. Make that CRISIS with all capital letters. I raced to the DG Lifestyle electronics store. Alas, they sold as many laptop power adaptors as they sold parrots. An 11-hour flight ahead of me with no laptop? My god, I would have to relax and watch movies! Now desperate, I dashed to the nearby Nobletime AV & Telecom, half expecting a similar answer.
“Yes, we should be able to help,” said a very helpful salesman called Simon after checking my laptop connection. “Let me test it for you,” he continued, taking his recommended charger out of its wrapping.
“Yes that works,” he said, indicating the charging light on the laptop. “That will be 502 Hong Kong Dollars.”
“Double it,” I nearly said, my relief bursting free like a dead parrot brought back to life with an electric current straight to its heart.
I’m not sure what had lit up faster, the laptop or my face but thanks to Simon, now Saint Simon in my mind, and Noble Time, my problems were solved. Don’t you just love airport shopping?
Back to the Cathay Lounge and a glass of nicely chilled Perrier Jouet to ease the stress and then a few hours of work on the Cannes issue during the near seven-hour transit before boarding my flight to Auckland.
On the way to my gate I stopped by a new store called Homeless HKG. A while back I reported favourably on the same brand’s landside store (where I bought the pin map that adorns my office wall, since closed, and this one too gets the Moodie seal of approval. What an intriguing, often zany merchandise mix. And yes, as you ask, I did buy the Donald Trump* toilet brush pictured below, along with plenty of other quirky gifts for unsuspecting friends and family.
Next stop Auckland. Homeward bound.
*Footnote: On the subject of Donald Trump, a disclaimer. I had so many serious emails asking me whether my recent ‘interview’ with President Trump (and his bid to buy the global rights to the duty free industry from TFWA) was real that I have to fess up.
No. It was fake news. You can rest safe in your beds tonight; the US President won’t be taking over our industry. At least not anytime soon.