Reclaiming what we have lost
Never, one suspects, was Nestlé’s famous ‘Have a Break’ tagline for its popular KitKat line (our special partner in this issue) more apposite than as 2020 draws inexorably towards a close, writes Martin Moodie. For, frankly, there is nothing most around the world would like more than to have a break – a complete, enduring one – from a year and a pandemic that has brought so much hardship to so many.
The travel retail community has been among the worst-affected sectors. No business has been spared the pain and too many fine companies and individuals have suffered greatly. My LinkedIn network almost groans with the daily weight of that disturbingly familiar white out of green image and hashtag, ‘#Open to work’. But such work is in pitifully short supply. The anguish is real, widespread and not easily dulled.
And yet, as we close out the year, the gloomy haze of the horizon in front of us all is clearing. As I write, a 90-year-old grandmother named Margaret Keenan has just become the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 jab as part of the UK’s mass vaccination programme. Hers was the first of some 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be dispensed in coming weeks.
The Brits have labelled today ‘V-Day’ – a nod to the spirit of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, which on 8 May each year celebrates the end of the second world war with Germany in 1945. Yes, I know, we have not been through a war this time around, but the pandemic nonetheless has been a human tragedy on a grand scale. And given that context, the advent of vaccines should rightly be celebrated.
Vaccines, of course, do not represent any kind of instant panacea and the path to recovery for all sectors of the travel industry will be ridden with obstacles and potholes. But I remain convinced that the future of travel retail’s ‘parent’ sectors – travel & tourism – remains bright. Take something away from mankind, something that people need and/or covet, and they will yearn for it and then fight to reclaim it. History tells us that. The human desire and need to travel has been accentuated, not diminished, by deprivation and that surely offers the most positive of contexts for our sector, one that has for so long been shrouded in gloom.
But history tells us other things too. It tells of multiple company casualties and even the destruction of whole business sectors that have been unable to adapt or reinvent in the face of turmoil. Travel retail has no God-given right to flourish in the future. If any sector stakeholder is relying simply on the recovery of passenger traffic they are surely misguided at best and fools at worst.
The winners will be those not only who survived (an achievement in itself) but who anticipated the new age. A new age built on sound business values, less (or no) excess, constant innovation, adaptability, and simple unwavering principles of integrity, honesty and transparency. We plan to be among that group. We hope you will too.
The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 288 | 8 December 2020
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