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If there is anything that COVID-19 has highlighted with the onset of a new decade, it is “survival of the fittest.” Standing at the precipice of profound changes, only those businesses that have ingeniously used their creative acumen to devise new strategies have sustained the pandemic storm. One such example is that of FILTR. An integrated marketing, design, and communication agency, FILTR had its core business in the travel retail sector, the whopping 65 billion USD industry. The company worked with luxury and premium brands in airports and travel space and saw growth as an outcome of the high-spending Chinese tourists worldwide. However, the COVID-19 restrictions crippled the global travel industry in the blink of an eye. “Our biggest strength became a significant weakness overnight. We realized it was time to pivot quickly,” says Alex Cook, co-founder and managing director, FILTR.
The management team at FILTR began searching for alternatives to utilize its design, communications, digital, and client servicing skills in new areas. It was around this time when FILTR started discussions with long-time partners, The Moodie Davitt Report – one of the world’s most successful multi-media business-to-business publishers, to build an innovative, value-adding virtual event for the travel retail sector. And this paved the way for the two companies to collaborate on the inaugural Virtual Travel Retail Expo.
“We reviewed a number of generic, off-the-shelf virtual event solutions in the market, but they were mediocre at best,” mentions Cook. Realizing the struggle that prestigious brands in travel retail would face while integrating with the existing UX platforms, the company built Virtual Travel Retail Expo. A best-in-class, intuitive, and engaging hybrid platform, the Virtual Travel Retail Expo has garnered significant participation and investment of several leading brands of the world, such as Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), Luxottica Group, and more. The state-of-the-art, secure, cloud-based platform comprises a conference theater, workshop rooms, a press center, specialist exhibition halls, a network lounge, and several other stellar features. The Virtual Travel Retail Expo complies with stringent data privacy laws and is fully GDPR compliant and thereby guarantees exhibitors and visitors a secure event experience.
Since its inception in 2016, FILTR has always worked toward bridging the gap between global brands and their consumers. With its operation centers in Singapore (Headquarters) and London, FILTR’s team of 28 professionals tells a story of innovation in adversity, and their Virtual Expo solutions are further feathers to the cap of its impeccable capabilities.
What distinguishes the Virtual Travel Retail Expo is its customized UX that calls for a more social approach and facilitates better human-to-human interaction in an immersive digital story-telling environment. A trade show that mirrors physical exhibitions, the Virtual Travel Retail Expo has been a game-changer for the company.
Further, Cook highlights how COVID-19 has resulted in a change in consumers’ behavior who now rely on multi-channel buying experiences. The quest for a seamless experience among consumers has left brands befuddled, who relied on physical retail and are now failing to target their audiences across a range of siloed channels. However, the Virtual Expo concept is helping to change narratives.
What I thought was our biggest strength became a significant weakness overnight. We realized it was time to pivot
The Virtual Travel Retail Expo provided brands a suitable platform to reach their target audience. Amplified by a portfolio of resident influencers - the KOL Ambassadors - the newfangled travel retail platform is helping brands build loyalty and engage with consumers through various touchpoints and channels. The Virtual Travel Retail Expo has even opened doors for borderless, contactless, B2B and B2C conversations among global communities.
“We attracted over 4500 unique visitors from all over the world, who returned day after day in the live event week. The feedback we received has been incredible, with around 90% of exhibitors and visitors stating they would return to the virtual event in 2021,” remarks Cook. Bolstered by the appreciation, The Moodie Davitt Report and FILTR are developing similar virtual events in new sectors like aviation, wellbeing, spirits, beauty, and many more. The Aircraft Commerce Virtual Conference & Expo 2020 takes place in November, which is attracting participation from many of the world’s leading airlines and exhibition presence from the likes of Collins Aerospace, Honeywell and Airbus company NAVBLUE. This is followed by events such as the Virtual Summit of the Americas, World of Spirits and Beauty Tech Live in the first half of 2021.
Additionally, FILTR also extends services such as PR & communications, retail design, graphic & digital design, and retail/ brand consultancy. Through its PR and communication services, FILTR enables brands to target both decision-makers and consumers through media and influencer campaigns. The company’s Retail Consultancy arm works with retailers and brands to deliver more effective and profitable retail propositions, providing impactful retail spaces — like pop-ups and boutique stores — and spans in-store graphics and advertising through its retail design and graphic & digital design services respectively.
In its recent developments, the company merged with the Qingwa Group to form a 55-person strong agency and accelerate FILTR’s growth further by adding operations in Hong Kong and Paris. The company is further refining its unique value proposition each day and adding new features such as AR/VR and deeper social intgration to strengthen the experience of its Virtual Expos. The company is hopeful for a stable 2021 and expects physical and virtual events to work in tandem to optimize the balance of cost and time efficiency, engagement, and interaction. With the Virtual Expo concept at the core of its operations, FILTR intends to reinforce global communities and lead the future of the physical-virtual movement.