FRANCE/INTERNATIONAL. Alain Maingreaud brings an insider’s knowledge to the role of TFWA President, having been elected for a 12-month term in December. He has over 23 years’ experience at the association, joining in 1995 as Commercial Director, later becoming Exhibitions and Business Development Director before assuming the Managing Director role in 2010 (stepping down in 2017 for a part-time role as Associate Director).

And Maingreaud has big shoes to fill. His predecessor Erik Juul-Mortensen was President for 19 years and a key influence on TFWA’s evolution not only in that period, but for many years going back to TFWA’s founding. He was a driving force behind the evolution of its exhibitions, conferences, research services and charitable activities.

Alain Maingreaud: TFWA can be the “engine of innovation” for its members.

In this first big interview since he took the presidency, we ask Maingreaud about the approach and qualities he will take to the role, about his early priorities and about how he thinks TFWA should evolve to remain relevant in a changing world.

Continuity rather than revolution are required now, says Maingreaud. But he does believe that TFWA can have a greater voice in championing and defending the industry, and he argues firmly that TFWA can do more to be an “engine of innovation” for its members. Read on for the full interview.

The Moodie Davitt Report: Alain, what are the early goals and priorities for your time as President?

Alain Maingreaud: One of my first priorities will be to ensure continuity and stability so that the great work of the Association can continue. The current model has proven to be successful and, therefore, there is no need to make dramatic changes. However, we must continue to ensure that the organisation functions as smoothly as possible with efficiency and transparency.

Secondly, we need to work as closely as possible with the members and make sure that we listen to them, meeting their needs and delivering the high level of service that they expect.

Thirdly, we need to reinforce our relationship with other industry stakeholders. By doing so, we can respond appropriately to the many challenges the industry is facing and move forward together for the benefit of all.

Beyond that, there are, of course, a number of ideas and projects that will be considered and discussed over the next 12 months with the Board and the Management Committee members. This will be the starting point to shape the future strategy of the Association.

The President needs to be the ‘guardian of the temple’ and champion TFWA’s values, says Maingreaud; TFWA World Exhibition 2018 pictured. (Photo: TFWA Press/Nathalie Oundjian)

What qualities will you bring to the role?

It’s always difficult to talk about oneself. However, some of the attributes I feel I can bring to the table are neutrality, the ability to listen, and determination.

What lessons do you think you can learn from Erik’s long tenure as President?

Of course, Erik conducted much outstanding work for the Association, and indeed the industry, during his tenure. One of the main missions of the President is to be the ‘guardian of the temple’ and to champion the values that have guided the Association over the last 35 years. These have provided the foundations for its success. Erik was very good at that and is a great example to follow.

I’ve also learned that we should never be complacent and always regard the glass as being half empty, not half full.

TFWA digital village 2017

TFWA Digital Village: Evolution of format and branding is on the agenda.

How would you describe the association’s role today?

Since its beginnings as a show organiser 35 years ago, the Association has evolved to become an industry-leading trade body playing an active part in the defence and development of the industry it serves. This is to Erik’s credit, as he played a key role in that evolution.

While we should ensure that our events portfolio continues to grow in size and quality, I believe the role of the Association in defending the industry is something we should also develop further going forward.

TFWA can develop its role in protecting and defending the industry, says Maingreaud (Photo: TFWA Press/Nathalie Oundjian)

The business world in which TFWA operates is changing quickly. How does TFWA need to adapt to remain relevant?

TFWA will remain relevant by listening to its members and being mindful of the evolution of the outside world. While we should maintain continuity, we must also constantly benchmark what we do, improve and innovate.

I really believe that TFWA should be the engine of innovation for its members. The launch of the TFWA Digital Village within the framework of the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes during my time as Managing Director is a good example of the sort of initiative we must undertake to remain relevant.

While this initiative was launched just two years ago and has added much value to the week’s programme, we’ll be looking at evolving it in terms of its format and branding this year. We should take risks and invest in new, imaginative projects, as long as we think these will serve our members’ interests.

Alain Maingreaud: “We could do more to increase awareness of how duty free and travel retail benefits the wider travel industry and local and global economies.”

How do you view the health of TFWA today as an organisation, from its structures to its decision-making processes? If there is anything you would change in these areas, what might they be?

TFWA is in a healthy position both as an organisation and from a financial standpoint. We should make sure that this robust health is maintained. I don’t believe there is any need for a revolution.

However, some minor adjustments should be considered to improve our processes, and this is an area that we will work on together with the Board and the Management Committee members in the coming months.

How can TFWA support brand owners in ensuring their voices are heard within the industry Trinity?

TFWA is already represented at all levels, whether it is on a regional basis through its relationship with regional industry associations or at a global level through its association with the Duty Free World Council.

Our various events are powerful forums where ideas can be shared, challenges debated and solutions found to ensure all parties benefit equally from the Trinity model.

Can TFWA be a voice for the wider industry with the consumer or regulators? If so, how?

TFWA has already started to move in this direction with the launch of the highly successful 70 years of duty free campaign in 2017. Personally I think that we could do more, both directly and indirectly, to increase awareness of how duty free and travel retail benefits the wider travel industry and, more generally, local and global economies.