Coronavirus: Time to Change the Channel
To say that few of us in the communications world could have predicted or prepared for the emerging scale of COVID-19 is an understatement – and even as we work hard now to mitigate its impact (as best we can) and counsel our clients on their next communications steps, we still do not know when or where the situation will begin to improve.
What is clear is that its impact on business is being felt around the world, but the show must go on and we are seeing some of the world’s top innovators adapt very quickly to life in lockdown through digital channels. In just the past few weeks, we have seen Shanghai Fashion Week stream its runways exclusively through Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall, a wave of Live from Home concerts pop up featuring stars such as Dua Lipa, Charli XCX and Metallica, and the likes of Zoom and Houseparty becoming household names.
At FILTR, we work with clients to grow their businesses in travel retail through strategic insight with a creative flair, and we are witnessing first-hand the impact of the coronavirus on the industry. Over the past few months as airports have closed, passengers numbers have declined and key travel retail marketing animations, events and conferences have been postponed, the TR world has had to come up with new and interesting ways to engage key customers, media and consumers.
And it has been quick to adapt, again using digital as a key channel to unite audiences from the four corners of the world quickly, effectively and efficiently. Take The Moodie Davitt Report, who in addition to their leading commentary on the coronavirus and the travel retail channel, has just unveiled the Virtual Travel Retail Expo – the industry’s inaugural digital exhibition and awards. Set to take place in September, guests will be able to visit exhibition stands, hold meetings with exhibitors in private chat rooms and view promotional brochures at the click of a button.
Over at FILTR Towers, we are pleased to be named the Virtual Stand & Experience Partner for the Virtual Travel Retail Expo and look forward to helping to deliver an event that will surely act as a catalyst for the recovery and future prosperity of the channel. In addition, we are working closely with existing clients to develop new PR tactics that will best support their business goals in the new environment. Set against an ever-evolving digital landscape, we are taking B2B communications into a new space through tactics such as digital press conferences that will stream our clients’ stories, people and experiences through the Internet and into the lives (and lounges) of key commentators.
Meanwhile in South Korea, Lotte Duty Free has opened its first Smart Store, which is located in its Myeongdong Main Store and offers a comfortable, convenient and safer shopping environment with reduced face-to-face contact through digital innovation. Shoppers simply scan a QR code on entry to access a mobile shopping cart that provides product details, reviews and inventory quantities in four languages, and processes check-out using digital payment.
As with any black swan event, it is only human nature to wonder when things will go back to ‘normal’ – and in terms of the re-opening of airports, resuming of international travel and the return to growth in travel retail, this cannot come quickly enough.
But when it does, what about the new tools in our communications armoury that we have gained?
In the long-term, the strides that we are taking now in terms of innovation and digitalization will be commonplace – we have just taken a shortcut to them now out of necessity. World-class marketing in the travel retail channel in 2020 is about creating an authentic and engaging online-to-offline experience – and with the skills we’ve sharpened, when the recovery comes the effectiveness of our communication will be greater than ever.