Martin Moodie, Chairman and Founder of The Moodie Davitt Report. Visionair and Shapeshifter.
PM: Martin, what were the principal drivers behind The Moodie Davitt Report establishing Virtual Expo? Survival, an appreciation of the way the business needs to move forward, or both?
PM: Looking at the build of the site, it’s still new, unproven territory for all. Do you think that you might be cluttering it now with too many zones? What research did you employ to get to this?
MM: It’s not cluttered at all. Quite the opposite. It’s clean, logically segmented and well sign-posted, and in fact a whole lot easier to navigate than a physical trade show. But people should stop comparing one with the other – the virtual and the physical. They should be complementary. In this year, however, virtual is all there is, so embrace it.
PM: What about the editorial content? I think people viewing are going to expect to see something very different from the usual talking heads. They also will not expect to see any ‘puff’. Watching something virtual to attending a conference is a very different indeed. It’s de-personalised for a start. And watching a computer screen all day is hard work. What can the audience expect?
PM: Of course not, that’s not our style.
PM: Moving on, there has been chatter about you looking to monetise an event that effectively displaces what TFWA have been doing for years. How would you answer that?
PM: It might not for 2020, Martin. What about 2021 and beyond?
A new company for a virtual world
PM: But you haven’t answered the question, Martin
PM: Everyone will be looking at this with a very close eye. Not just the technical execution, but the quality of the overall content, the take out of the ‘engagement’ and, of equal importance, the viewing data.
PM: Well, others are going the virtual route, too. ‘Copycat’ is a word that has been bandied about, most notably with what TRB have launched. Any neutral observer would look at some of their text and it seems to echo yours. It’s not terribly surprising because what other options do they and others have but to ‘adapt and survive’. This could be a meal ticket for them, too, and I have a certain sympathy with that. I am not sure whether being ahead of you may give them some advantage. But traction will be difficult, there’s only so much in the pot to be shared. Any comments you want to share?
PM: OK. The Virtual Expos represent exceptional, entrepreneurial projects. But as you’ve covered, they number more than one. Two questions arise here. Are you morphing the company into a different organisation – effectively creating a full-on, new media enterprise that clearly steps outside the traditional parameters of trade media (as you are thought of now, even though you don’t like this). This is because the Virtual Expos are a direct move into consumer space, too. And, secondly, do you see the Virtual Expo route as a replacement for print publishing down the line or complementary?
The Trinity Forum is the world’s leading airport commercial revenue conference
PM: So what will you do if this doesn’t all work out? What’s the backstop position?