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Lady Brocklehurst: George… Listen, when anyone begins to answer with “The fact is… ”
Brocklehurst: But why, mother?
Lady Brocklehurst: Because that is, usually, the beginning of a lie.
-From The Admirable Crichton by J. M. Barrie
Ok, I gotta to fess up, no hesitation, as Bob Marley put it. I haven’t been exactly straight with you. Or even partly straight. In fact, I’ve been downright crooked. On Friday, 1 April, our freelance correspondent Mike Drop faithfully reported my announcement that the leading international and regional travel retail media titles had joined forces in a consortium to aid their survival and ensure an enhanced and less time-consuming global and local reader proposition.
So the fact is… Mike reported that as the dominant market leader in the sector The Moodie Davitt Report has majority control of the new media entity, which also embraces Duty-Free News International, Frontier, Travel Retail Business, Travel Markets Insider and Global Travel Retail Magazine. To save space and costs, he wrote, the new title will be known by the simple acronym TMDRDFNIFTRBTMI>RM.com for short (but not for long).
I am sorry that I omitted Peter Marshall’s excellent and always challenging TRunblocked blog and the splendid Facebook group TR Meeting Point run by John Gallagher. However, Peter and John, it wasn’t actually an oversight. You see, a good travel media title has to slip off the tongue, be snappy, easily pronounceable, whatever your nationality.
I felt that TMDRDFNIFTRBTMI>RM.com achieved just that. Practice it for a while in front of the mirror and you’ll get the hang of it really quickly. I can now say it while brushing my teeth or even gargling in the morning. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to say if I added the other titles, even if abbreviated to TRUN and TRMP? TMDRDFNIFTRBTMI>RMTRUNTRMP.com. Come on! That’s almost to the limit of my Twitter character limit (280) and might even put my LinkedIn one (3,000) in danger.
So the fact is, we had no choice but to opt for TMDRDFNIFTRBTMI>RM.com. “Love the name 🙂 almost sounds Welsh,” wrote well-known industry figure Sebastien Bruggeman, who now runs his own consultancy in Singapore called Bruggeman & Tung, itself a pretty impressive mouthful. The Welsh, of course, know a thing or two about lengthy names. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (time for a new keyboard) on the island of Ynys Môn (Anglesey in English), off the coast of Wales, boasts an impressive 58 letters.
But despite having a Welsh son-in-law and therefore half-Welsh granddaughter, I am pleased to say that Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is headed off in the contest for the title of world’s longest place name by a location in my homeland of New Zealand.
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu clocks in at a magnificent 85 letters, just three short of the number of keys on a piano, something I happen to know a lot about.
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is a hill rather than a town. According to New Zealand media title Stuff, it comes from the story of Tamatea, a renowned Māori chief and explorer. Hundreds of years ago he was passing through the district of Porangahau when he got into a battle (known as Matanui) in which his brother was killed. Tamatea was so grief-stricken that he stayed on the hill, where each morning he would play a lament on his Koauau, a Māori flute. A sad but lovely story.
[Need some help with the pronunication? No problem, click on the video above and you will be fluent in no time.]
[Or if you fancy it put to music, take a listen to this fabulous song from Kiwi singer Ra Costelloe]
However, as is my want, I digress. I have a second and more fulsome apology to those – and there were many of them, including our own hapless Mike Drop – who took the TMDRDFNIFTRBTMI>RM story at face value. So the fact is… well, let’s just say that Lady Brocklehurst was right. Yes, the story veered just a microscopic degree away from being true. Admittedly we are talking a very large microscope. But it was April 1, after all.
I gotta fess up, no hesitation
It’s a vibration, ready with my arms up
– Higher Place, Bob Marley
Believe it or not, some serious points arise from an entirely fictitious story. The reaction to the report – 6,355 views on LinkedIn and rising plus a lot of direct traffic – from those who bought into it hook, line and a very large sinker, contained some interesting observations. Among those who believed the story – a surprisingly high ratio, which is usually the sign of a good April Fool’s – did believe that consolidation made absolute sense. That should offer food for thought for each one of those publications, including ours.
But reaction also showed an encouraging level of sector support for travel retail publishers. Given that all of those titles included in our beautifully snappy TMDRDFNIFTRBTMI>RM acronym are wholly reliant on the travel retail industry for their revenues, it’s actually pretty impressive that they are all still standing 27 months into this wretched pandemic.
Their business models may vary but each has had to adapt to a shrinking advertising pot and the cancellation of physical events that are critical in revenue-generating terms. But here’s the thing. While advertising and sponsorship revenues may dry up during such a prolonged crisis, the need for information does not. In fact, certainly judging by our own experience, it is accentuated.
All of these titles have played an important role in keeping our industry informed, invariably on a free of charge basis. I am not sure too many business sectors benefit from a similar proposition.
Normally in a traumatised and shrinking market you expect to see business failures and/or consolidation. Neither, despite my best efforts on April 1, have happened. And heck, if the latter does, at least I have the name TMDRDFNIFTRBTMI>RM registered.
Reaction from those who spotted the hook, line and sinker either immediately or belatedly (bless you Heidi Van Roon) also confirms that the global community has a nice sense of humour. TFWA Managing Director John Rimmer wrote, “About time.” And then recommended long-time drinks writer Alex Smith, owner of the outstanding Global Drinks Intel as the new title’s Jewellery Editor. I was happy to take up the suggestion and the fact is, as Lady Broccoli, sorry Brocklehurst, might say, is that Alex has gratefully accepted my offer.
My favourite response, though, was from former Rémy Cointreau Global Travel Retail boss Peter Sant, who wrote: “Nice move Martin, makes total sense. I learnt this morning that Erik Juul-Mortensen has made a similar move and consolidated the Travel Retail and Duty Free Trade Associations. Now to be known as TFWAAPTRAETRCIAADFSDFWCAFCOV.”
Wow. Really? The fact is, that’s a wonderful idea. And so much easier to pronounce than Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. Or even TMDRDFNIFTRBTMI>RM.