Time to climb off the torture rack

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
My classy Interim Bureau for Expo week {Photo courtesy of The Pottinger}

Welcome to The Moodie Davitt Interim Pottinger Bureau in Hong Kong. I’ve been holed up all week at The Pottinger, an excellent boutique hotel in Central, just a few hundred metres along the road from The Center Space, my 76th floor recording studio inside one of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscrapers and the highest co-working space on the island.

I’ve spent long, long days there hosting The Knowledge Hub at our Virtual Travel Retail Expo, the first part of which is drawing to a close as I write.

The calm before the storm on multiple fronts

I say first part because the Expo remains open through to the end of November to give extra value to our exhibitors. Yesterday we announced that November will be a pioneering Buyers’ Bonanza Month, in which we plan a festival of celebration to maximise exhibitor/visitor engagement. Each day of the month, different exhibitors will enjoy a complimentary high-profile promotion on The Moodie Davitt Report.com, while the digital festival will see a host of site visit incentives and prizes on offer to buyers.

The Virtual Travel Retail Expo 2021-style

It has been an exhausting week but after some initial teething problems with the new Expo platform a satisfying one. Running over 40 individual sessions (many of them live) with more than 70 speakers between Dermot Davitt and me was without doubt the most gruelling professional gig I have embarked on. As I write this Blog just after dawn on a Saturday morning in Hong Kong, I feel like I have been through the mental equivalent of being laid out and then stretched on a medieval torture rack for a week.

Besides the intense concentration required to chair the various sessions, there’s a mountain of scripting and voiceovers to do, much of it necessarily last-minute. And the unexpected… well, let’s just say you can expect it. My good companion throughout the week was Arnaud de Hennin, Client Manager at FILTR.QINGWA, our partner in the Expo, who had the nigh impossible task of keeping me organised as well as ensuring all things technical flowed smoothly.

From Wednesday on, we had the whole 76th floor to ourselves (and pretty much the whole building) as Typhoon Kompasu raged and a Force 8 storm warning kept any sane workers home. From one moment to the next, the breath-taking views of Victoria Harbour disappeared, visibility suddenly limited to the nearby high-rises. It was a surreal experience, just Arnaud and I managing our way through session after session while the storm raged outside.

Visibility to the world but no visibility outside

At one point during a live Q&A with Nestlé International Travel Retail General Manager Stewart Dryburgh, my laptop decided it should stop work in sympathy with those who had been prevented from coming into the office. The sight of the screen going as black as the night sky outside as Stewart was replying to one of my questions would usually have had me reaching for the panic button but the trusty Arnaud was on hand and I leapt around the desk to his screen to continue the conversation, albeit not aware of a single word of what Stewart had just said.

One of many high points for the week was the Global Dufry Exchange with CEO Julián Díaz and members of his Global Executive Committee
In conversation with Oscar Vela Nebot, CEO of Spanish food & beverage company Areas

Whatever one says about virtual events – and, yes, we would all love to go back to face to face – they offer amazing geographic reach and an ability to bring people together who might never be able to attend a physical exhibition or conference. We saw that yesterday with our four awards finals – The QDF Factor, The Travel Retail Superstars Awards, The FAB Superstars Awards, and The Moodies Travel Journey Digital Media Awards – and it was lovely to see the warmth of engagement on the chat forum as the results flowed in.

Time now, hopefully, for a little downtime this weekend back home in Discovery Bay. It’s time to leave the torture rack behind for a while.

With the wonderful Heidi van Roon and Marcus Griffin, our judges extraordinaire for the brilliantly received Travel Retail Superstars Awards. Some of the winners are pictured below.

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