In this guest column, Luxottica Group Global Channels Director Alessandro Pozzi reflects on the team’s experience at the inaugural Virtual Travel Retail Expo, the importance of partnerships and innovating in a new and challenging travel retail environment.
In what seems little more than a blink of the eye, over a month has passed since the conclusion of the inaugural live Virtual Travel Retail Expo week, an innovative event that managed to bring members of the travel retail industry together as we work towards recovery, writes Alessandro Pozzi.
This digital event (organised by The Moodie Davitt Report) truly transformed an online space into one where we could have productive, valuable conversations with our partners and bring them into the virtual world of Luxottica.
The rationale for the Virtual Travel Retail Expo was clear – to continue maintaining connections in an ever-changing world, and it ticked a very important box in our business strategy – strong partnerships. The event also came at an opportune moment, where the strengthening and building of relationships in the travel retail industry was not possible in a physical environment. So it became an opportunity for us to participate in a platform where we could continue investing in our partnerships with clients, retailers and airports, as we work towards total channel recovery.
Digital forms part of Luxottica’s foundation, so we were glad to take part in an event that was a perfect fusion of digital, innovation and partnerships.
It allowed us to strengthen existing partnerships, establish new relationships and showcase Luxottica’s brands, business models and tools in an innovative format. For example, our business model STARS*, retail brand Sunglass Hut, as well as digital solutions like our Smart Shopper tool with Virtual Try-Ons and Luxottica Digital University**, all of which are immediate and tangible solutions in this new and challenging environment – were shared in an interactive manner with videos. Fresh from these presentations, we were able to seamlessly organise follow-up meetings to discuss concrete roll-out plans.
Also, going digital meant that we had zero constraints when designing the visitor journey. So, for this event, we specially curated a virtual reality experience that showcased every brand story in an immersive way, and we also revealed key campaigns and launches.
For instance, in the Ray-Ban room, visitors were treated to a visual spectacle of the new Ray-Ban ‘You’re On’ campaign video that played upon entry, and they could discover the new Ray-Ban Everglasses category through different elevator floors, with interactive touchpoints and music playing in the background to simulate real-life elevator movement and transitions.
The online nature of this event meant that we could have truly global representation from our Luxottica team members across the world, and naturally, reach a wider audience. And it was a great pleasure for us to keep with the tradition of organising the Sunglasses Workshop with our fellow sunglasses suppliers, and together, we launched the Virtual Sunglasses Workshop, sharing insights and trends into the future of the sunglasses category in the new normal.
And the post-Expo results for Luxottica? Overwhelmingly positive. We had more than 60 fruitful meetings, which we anticipate will drive growth in the sunglasses category. Our internal survey with clients found that more than 90% of them felt that the event was highly engaging and effective for learning more about Luxottica’s portfolio and business plans.
And the reception to future digital events remains promising with 90% of our clients keen to participate. Within the Luxottica team, response was also encouraging, with assessments of the event being qualitative and well-organised.
Naturally, the return to physical events will be a welcomed one, as it will be a clear sign that the world is spinning again and our travellers are returning to the sky, so we look forward to that day when we can again meet in person. But for the meantime, while the digital platform cannot fully replace the human-to-human interaction of physical events, it is clear that it enriches the client experience and is an important complement to future physical events.
Overall, I’m very pleased to say that the Virtual Travel Retail Expo was a fantastic initiative that Luxottica was a proud platinum partner of and we look forward to reaping the rewards from the show, and fostering deeper relationships with our clients and of course, the total recovery of the channel.
*STARS is Luxottica’s business model that allows retailers to streamline the management of the eyewear category, providing customizable product solutions by offering a variety of modular assortments to ensure that retailer shelves are stocked with relevant frames that suit the store’s customer profile and enables automatic replenishment to ensure optimal stock availability.
**The Luxottica University Digital Platform is a dedicated travel retail learning platform for sales associates to enhance product and sales knowledge, helping to contribute to outstanding shopping journeys for our consumers.