With the cancellation of the TFWA World Exhibition in October, two of the industries’ leading global publications – The Moodie Davitt Report and TRBusiness — are mounting virtual events designed to give the industry an opportunity to “gather” in a safe and productive manner during the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
First up in the calendar is the TRMarketplace, a joint venture between TRBusiness and Bluedog Productions, which will take place September 28 – October 2.
On Friday, August 28, the TRMarketplace platform opened to enable DF&TR stakeholders to book meetings in advance of the official event.
With four weeks remaining before the forum begins, Travel Markets Insider spoke with TRBusiness’ founders Nigel Hardy, International Sales & Marketing Director and Janice Hook, Director, about the upcoming event. We will present a full preview of The MoodieDavitt TR Virtual Expo in the next issue of TMI.
TMI: Can you please describe for us how the TRBusiness digital conference and meeting platform will operate? What are some of the services that the event will offer participants?
TRB: TRMarketplace, created and organized by TRBusiness and Bluedog Productions, initially opened to all fully-registered delegates on August 28, a full month prior to the official week-long event which takes place Sept. 28 –Oct. 2. From August 28, visitors will be able to browse the impressive list of ‘Brand Hubs’, whilst all delegates will be able to start booking meetings with one another and register their attendance to the webinars of their choice.
The platform hosts the industry’s first fully-digital conference and meeting event, where attendees can meet with new and existing partners digitally; make secure video calls using the built-in video conferencing platform; share brand assets; attend daily webinars; gain fresh consumer insights from m1nd-set along with data & analysis from IWSR, IIR, KMPG among others.
Buyers are able to request samples from suppliers through the platform and every company that joins TRMarketplace will have access to detailed event analytics.
TRMarketplace will also host a dynamic virtual ceremony for The 2020 Travel Retail Awards, which will be free for all participants.
We want to remind all delegates that the platform will remain open
Until the event concludes on October 2. There really are so many unique facets to the platform, yet it remains user-friendly and highly-intuitive. It has been our mission since the beginning to create a low-cost, no-gimmick platform, tailor-made for travel retail.
Just how big an undertaking has it been to bring to life? How is TRBusiness positioned to host a digital conference and meeting platform of this scale?
TRB: Whilst we came up with the concept of TRMarketplace in the early part of 2020 together with our partner Bluedog Productions, we actually only launched the platform in May as we wanted to know if the TFWA World Exhibition would be going ahead as originally planned.
We felt it was the right thing to do, as we did not want to discourage anyone from registering for the TFWE event, should it have gone ahead. We appreciate the absolute fundamental role which the TFWE plays for all sectors of the industry under normal circumstances.
However, what this meant was that we had just a few months to get the whole platform up and running, in addition to recruiting exhibitors and encouraging visitors to sign up. We gave ourselves a mammoth task and we have all worked around the clock to bring the project to life, however we are in no doubt that it has all been worth it and we are immensely proud of what we have achieved in such a short period of time.
TMI: What lessons have you learned in the process?
TRB: We have learned that nothing is impossible if you have the right team in place. Building this plat-form in the midst of dealing with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the ultimate challenge, but one that each and every team member has faced with admirable courage and efficiency; taking responsibility for their piece of the puzzle.
TMI: How has the industry reacted to the launch of the platform?
TRB: Thankfully all our hard work has paid off and we are delighted with the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received for TRMarketplace, with everyone from DDF’s Colm McLoughlin to Mondelez’ Jaya Singh showering their praise on what they believe to be a fantastic initiative.
We know that our comprehensive Knowledge & Insights program has been a big draw for members of the travel retail community and we are exceedingly proud of the impressive line-up of speakers we have attracted.
Aside our Keynote speaker, Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai Duty Free, we welcome Starboard’s Lisa Bauer, Heinemann’s Nadine Heubel, Ryanair’s Aoife Greene, Eudes Fabre and Ambroise Fondeur from Lagardère Travel Retail, Harding’s James Prescott and many more.
TMI: Will this be the first of many TRMarketplace events?
TRB: Watch this space…what we have learned through this process is that there is certainly an appetite for TRMarketplace. We certainly plan to continue providing the industry with much needed insights and networking opportunities in one format or another.
TMI: Do you think events of this nature can coexist with physical events once they resume?
TRB: We absolutely believe physical and digital events can happily coexist. We (TRBusiness) intend to begin flying to industry events around the world as soon as they resume. We feel that we should lead by example as soon as it is safe to do so.
TMI: What do you think the industry will gain from this event and its webinar program?
TRB: The industry has so much to gain from this event, which has given many brands a critical life-line in the absence of physical trade events. Visitors have also told TRBusiness that the digital format has actually allowed them to ‘send’ more representatives than they might have done to a physical exhibition or conference as they are not bound by budget constraints. It gives all registered delegates much-needed flexibility to engage with new or existing partners how and when they want to – on their terms – at the same time as conducting business back at base.
For more information about TRMarketplace, please visit: www.travelretailmarketplace.com To register, please click here: https://platform.travelretailmarketplace.com/index/registration.