One small jab for man, one giant roll-out for mankind. My Neil Armstrong moment is complete. Welcome to the Moodie Davitt Sun Yat Sen Memorial Sports Centre Interim Bureau where I’m doing my mandatory 30-minute waiting period after receiving my second BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
As mentioned in a recent Blog, jab one was part of the flawed lot that led to the suspension of the BioNnTech-Pfizer roll-out for a period. However, with an investigation having found no systemic fault in production, it is back to business as normal here in Hong Kong with the roll-out now in full swing.
It really does feel good to be part of such a mass human movement, an incredible global effort to tackle one of the greatest health scourges in history.
As someone with the dreaded ‘pre-existing conditions’ – another of those wearingly familiar phrases of the COVID era – I have been particularly careful over the past 12 months or so, and will continue to be so going forward in terms of mask-wearing and other precautionary measures. But I know that I am a lot safer as of today and that so is the world, thanks to the outstanding efforts of the teams here in Hong Kong and all around the globe.
This place runs with magnificent efficiency. And courtesy. As I thanked my rather senior male nurse for the work he was doing, he replied, “No, it is my pleasure to serve you.” All the staff here are unfailingly polite and professional. They and all who are in charge of staff training should take a bow.
And so I shall spring back into the outside world, feeling re-energised and optimistic about the times ahead. More than a year since the original UK lockdown, I lead a business that has toughed it out through crisis via a blend of pragmatism, innovation, teamwork and unrelentingly hard work. I am proud of our performance and especially so this week as I watch my team working ridiculous hours to manage a hugely onerous project, the Summit of the Americas – a Virtual Experience.
Financially, it has been less than a rewarding experience – COVID and its impact on Americas travel retail saw to that – but in terms of being able to assist two key associations in IAADFS and ASUTIL and hopefully build a bridge towards a return of their traditional physical shows next year, the return has been deeply satisfying.
We have been non-parochial in our approach (hosting events such as the DFNI Awards – thank you Kapila Ireland for your kind and typically classy shout-out last night – and the TRB Sustainability Forum) and I am proud of what my team in conjunction with our outstanding FILTR.Qingwa partners have achieved working with these two fine trade associations.
Running virtual events is not for the faint-hearted. In fact they are the most demanding thing we have ever done, placing immense demands on all members of the team. Last year’s Virtual Travel Retail Expo went from idea to execution in seven months and even our predictable, perennial critics might one day acknowledge that virtual events played an important role through this most tumultuous period in travel retail history. On that note, why is it the same people who deride and/or prove difficult every time? They are as predictable as the rising of the sun, but far less warming.
Incredibly we’re doing two such events in successive weeks, next Monday seeing the kick-off of Beauty Tech Live, our joint venture with the admirable beauty sector title BW Confidential, that sees us step outside pure travel retail for the first time. We have a fantastic speakers’ line-up and a decent line-up of exhibitors for a first-year event. Please come and take a look.
I’m now completing this Blog in my second Interim Bureau of the day, onboard the ferry from Central to Discovery Bay. I love this short 25-minute journey; each and every trip feels like a big adventure and it’s wonderful to look out over the open sea at the sights of Hong Kong island, Kowloon and Lantau. The Central Ferry is like the pulse of Discovery Bay, steady and reassuring. Just like vaccine shot number two.