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12th February 2016

Chinese New Year in Travel Retail: What can we learn from the monkey?

The Year of the Monkey is upon us. If you work in travel-retail you’ll probably have noticed the odd limited edition featuring a primate or two (just see DFNI February’s launch pad section — ed).

Chinese New Year is big business for travel-retail, but there’s also an interesting Trinity-themed lesson for us in the monkey’s back story (and no, he didn’t used to be a Peanut Buyer for DFS or Dufry….).

The animals of the Zodiac – legend goes—were decided when the Jade Emperor held a great race, with the first ten finishers making up the Zodiac. The rat came first (much to the cat’s annoyance) and the pig came in last. The monkey’s story is an interesting one because in order to get past the major obstacle—a wide river – he worked together with the goat and the rooster to sail a raft across the water. I think you know where we’re heading here…..that’s right, the old subject of trinity collaboration!

But what would have happened to the three plucky animals if they’d “collaborated” in the way we see all too often in our tripartite industry?

Now, in most versions of the Zodiac legend the raft that they travelled on belonged to the rooster, so he’s our landlord—the airport. For argument’s sake let’s say the monkey is the retailer, and the goat is our brandowner.

To start with, the rooster wouldn’t have given up space on its raft as easily as it did in the legend. A Minimum Annual Guarantee might have been out of the question but you can bet the monkey would have paid through the nose. The rooster demands most of the monkey’s life savings

Chinese New Year 2016
Nick Sutton, Co-founder & Content Director, FILTR

Realising he needs help, the monkey recruits the goat—the strongest of the three passengers. The only way the goat is able to book his passage is by covering a large chunk of the monkey’s expenses and agreeing to power the raft through the fast-flowing waters. He doesn’t have a choice, and it all seems a bit unfair – he’s putting in the work, taking most of the risk (drowning is a real possibility) but hey—he’s booked his passage, the raft does belong to the rooster after all, and he’s indebted to the monkey for inviting him aboard.

And off they set—Rooster sat comfortably, monkey doing what he can to help power the vessel and the goat at the rear paddling furiously.

Hours later they reach the far side of the river. The Rooster jumps off and races over the finish line, place in the zodiac confirmed and significantly better off thanks to the monkey.

The monkey limps over the finish line, exhausted and somewhat out of pocket, but he’s made the top 10. Just. However, he’s in two minds if it’s really been worth it.

The goat? Well his exertions have all been too much. He’s slumped on the shore, a shell of a goat, watching the other animals race past to complete the top 10. He’ll be damned if he’s putting himself through that again.

And yet…….they’ll be needing to get back to the other side of the river at some point. And guess who still owns the raft?

Sounds familiar? Let’s hope 2016 sees more collaboration in our industry like that in the original story. Three parties sharing risk and reward to make it across the finish line together.

This piece features as a guest blog on DFNIOnline.com: http://www.dfnionline.com/regions/global/guest-blog-filtrs-nick-sutton-imparts-learnings-chinese-new-year-12-02-2016/

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