ILTM 2012 to showcase new, inspiring experiences


AS the 11th edition of International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Cannes gears to open doors from December 3-6 at The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, Cannes, Simon Mayle, ILTM head of marketing and Buyer Programmes speaks to TTN about luxury experiences.

What is your perception of luxury today? Do you believe that luxury is perceived differently in different markets?

Travel itself is one of the most preferred leisure activities for high net worth individuals, but what is luxurious to some is ‘over-the-top’ to others: a simple pared down refined experience may not be the opulent demonstrative dream of others. 

Equally, some markets including India, China and the Middle East are more brand-conscious than others, which also affects their travels.  They want to visit high-profile hotels and palaces in Europe and the US, also travelling to shop to demonstrate their status.

Wherever and whoever the luxury traveller, an elite travel experience is all about delivering value, both in terms of personal value and value for money. Many have moved towards a quieter understated luxury and plan their trips with a focus on authenticity and experiential travel – enriching once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For operators and agents it is essentially about creating a package that is personal as well as authentic and memorable.

What can we expect to see at ILTM Cannes this year?

Now in its 11th year, ILTM will welcome 1,350 elite global travel products – including exciting, new and contemporary experiences such as Argentinian adventure and safaris, spotting the Northern Lights from an igloo, cruises around the Patagonian glaciers or Robinson Crusoe hideaways in French Polynesia.   As always, the most glamorous names in luxury hospitality including The Peninsula Hotels, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Leading Hotels of the World will feature in the ILTM Global Village.

The Opening Forum at ILTM 2011. This year’s session will once again feature experts addressing new luxury trends.

ILTM is headlining in inspiration this year. Kit Kemp, design director for Firmdale Hotels and one of the most innovative and exciting interior designers in her field, will take part in a live interview on stage at the ILTM Opening Forum on Monday, December 3.

She will be joined by P.R.S. Oberoi, chairman and chief executive officer of The Oberoi Group; Silvio Ursini, executive vice president, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts Division and Nicholas Coleridge, president of Condé Nast International and managing director of Condé Nast UK.

The ILTM Opening Forum will also present an overview of ‘The World in 2013’ by John Andrews, consultant editor of The Economist and ‘The New World of Luxury’ by Nicholas Coleridge, President of Condé Nast International.

The ILTM Education Programme - now in its third successful year - will hear from key travel influencers during dedicated seminars, also on December 3, designed to answer frequent questions and advise on specific luxury traveller behaviour.  The programme will include:

Marketing to Bric markets, The Role of Children in Family Travel Planning, Demographic changes impacting Cruise Marketing, Gastronomy driving Luxury Travel Decision Making, Selling Environmentally Friendly Travel and Social Media Case Studies.

Have exhibitor/ hosted buyer numbers grown? If yes, by how much and who are the first timers?

More than 1,350 suppliers will cover the complete range of luxury travel at ILTM 2012 and of these; over 100 are new to ILTM including the Carnoustie Beach Resort and Spa, Luxury Action Finland, The Royal Palm Galapagos Hotel and Armani Hotels and Resorts.  1,350 buyers – 531 new – will meet with these exhibitors during dedicated pre- scheduled appointments.

How will the newly launched ILTM Africa be different?

ILTM Africa is something slightly different: the suppliers invited to take part will represent luxury travel experiences from the African continent, who will meet with hosted luxury travel buyers and agents from the most significant - as well as key emerging – global luxury travel markets.  This is a new format for ILTM: its other regional events (ILTM Asia and ILTM Americas) invite exhibitors from across the world to meet with invited buyers from the specific region. In a world where it is clear the luxury traveller continually and constantly seeks new and different experiences, ILTM Africa will offer a specific platform for this breath-taking continent to show the world’s most influential luxury travel buyers the full range of its many authentic experiences.

Will this affect the number of exhibitors attending ILTM Cannes?

Not at all.  ILTM in Cannes will always be the ‘umbrella’ event – overseeing all and leading the way.  It is still growing, but the event must retain its feel of a ‘private club’ as this is integral to the event: it focuses on the quality of exhibitors and buyers and not the quantity.  Regional events such as ILTM Japan and ILTM Americas will allow us to bring the best of the luxury travel world to those representing the highest net worth individuals from emerging and established markets across the world.

Authenticity and a touch of the local experience seem to be the selling point for most luxury operators today. Does this mean that the old concept of traditional luxury travel is diminishing?

It is true there is a new generation of luxury travellers who seek the authentic, the new, the actual experience as opposed to the five-star magnificence traditionally associated with those with large amounts of money to spend.  But for each who is interested in getting ‘under the skin’ of the destination. There will still be others who seek the ‘fly and flop’ beach and resort experience.  

For example, cruising is one of the more traditional luxury travel sectors which continues to grow and grow in popularity:  with this in mind, one of our seminars at ILTM 2012 will address ‘cruise marketing’. Traditionally the cruise market has attracted an older client base, but the seminar will discuss how cruise can be just as exciting for younger travellers as well if positioned appropriately.

What can the industry do to avoid diluting the meaning of tailor-made experiences?        

Most of the elite buyers who are invited to attend ILTM will seek to introduce their high net worth clients to a variety of bespoke experiences at the heart of a place, not insulate them from it. 

They believe it’s possible to penetrate a culture, and still get a good night’s sleep with goose-down pillows.  Indeed, it can be perceived from the fabulous five-star safaris or in-depth city trips that once the luxury traveller emerges dirty and tired from the jungle or the city, they want to immerse themselves in the best in luxury. We must never underestimate the power of a hot shower, spa treatment and sumptuous bed, none of which dilutes a tailor made experience.

What is your opinion on luxury in the Middle East? How has the Arab luxury traveller evolved over the years?

The Middle East/Africa is a growing destination for the global luxury traveller, representing 20 per cent destinations cited in the 2011 ILTM Global Trends report: the Middle East, Morocco, Jordan, Turkey and UAE are continuing to gain in importance and visibility.

The Arab luxury traveller now seeks destinations and products that distinguish them as special – an experience to create indelible memories as well as stories to impress and amaze.  Whilst culture and cruises continue to be popular, demand for safaris and adventure is increasingly steadily.