As the eighth ILTM in Cannes comes to a close today (10 December) feedback from the world’s definitive collection of luxury experiences and VIP Buyers highlighted that the event exceeded all expectations by providing a forum for ‘unrivalled serious business’.
Buyers at this year’s ILTM are taking the show much more seriously according to the suppliers. With over 43,000 pre scheduled appointments buyers have been taking the opportunity to immerse themselves in the latest trends and hot new destinations to recommend to their clients.
Claudia Roth, Vice President, Europe, Middle East, Africa, The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd and the event’s Platinum Partner said: ‘For me ILTM is the single most important luxury show in the industry calendar. The concept of bringing together qualified buyers with suppliers is a winning combination’.
Lore Koening, Director Sales and Marketing The Chedi, Oman said: ‘It’s our fourth time. Buyers are very positive. It is the most civislised of all trade shows because of the way it is organized. There have been no bargain hunters. All have been very professional and we have had many positive discussions on how to do business over the coming year. Overall it has been very useful.’
Trevor Owen, VP Sales IHG Europe commented, ‘The attendance here seems better than before. More robust. Have had more appointments confirmed this year than last and there has been excellent quality of media here.’
Whilst first time exhibitor The Maria Callas Experience said that on the first day of the show, they were due to see 27 pre scheduled appointments but actually saw 46.
First timer Sharon Leonhardt, Travel Traits, Australia summed up the show from a hosted buyer perspective: ‘I have been able to see at ILTM in three days what would take me years to achieve if I had to contact everyone individually. The show’s success deserves to be attributed to how well it is organized and planned.’
A key highlight of the event was the ILTM Ultratravel Forum which covered two key issues with a panel of industry experts: ‘Keeping Luxury Relevant in Today’s Market’ and ‘The Future of Luxury Travel’.
Key points raised included:
- ‘The need to exceed expectation; to achieve magic’; ‘luxury is about the software not the hardware’ - Andres Ergas, President Nomads of the Sea
- ‘Surprise and delight customer, anticipating their desires whilst delivering meaningful experiences’ - Daniel Levine, Founder and Executive Director, Avant-Guide Institute
-‘Our single most competitive advantage is our people and our culture. It is about empowering the front line and giving them the framework, relying on them to judge how best to interact with clients’ – Tom Storey, President Fairmont Hotels
- ‘Luxury travelers are not prepared to forgo their annual family trips; personalisation and tailoring travel is essential’ – Paul Jones, President, One&Only Resort
- ‘The consumer is now empowered and this is in influence here to stay’ – Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder and CEO Indagare Travel
The panel concluded that key emerging luxury markets would focus on China, India and Russia.
Commenting on the success of ILTM 2009, Exhibition Director Debbie Joslin said: ’The last three days has shown the importance of ILTM as the meeting place for the world’s most elite luxury suppliers and most discerning international travel buyers – all within a business driven environment. The buzz and atmosphere on the show floor has been electric.
‘With the introduction of new initiatives like the ILTM Ultratravel Forum and Focus Forums as well as Speed Networking has provided the industry with new opportunities to discuss, negotiate and place business.
‘It was clear that many saw this year’s ILTM as a future barometer on the luxury travel market sector. It has been particularly pleasing that the sector can look to 2010 with confidence and renewed optimism.’