ILTM 2004 set to roll out the red carpet

File picture of ILTM 2003 … catwalk of the luxury travel industry

INTERNATIONAL Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) is ready for its third edition, to be held in Cannes from December 6 to 9.

The world’s leading luxury travel event has grown a phenomenal 70 per cent from last year with 950 exhibiting companies and 850 buyers (coming from 56 countries) taking part in the appointment system and was already sold out in October.
“We will be generating over 37,000 pre-scheduled appointments this year based on exhibitor and visitor requests,” said Sarah Ball, marketing manager of ILTM. In addition to the PSAs, the participants have access to an online diary which enables them to adjust any appointments or arrange additional meeting slots and to the new ILTM gizmo toy: Spotme. Spotme is a handheld device that operates like a radar system and allows delegate to spot one another in the entire city of Cannes but also to exchange text messages. “As a challenger brand, ILTM always try to innovate and to push the boundaries of match making efficiencies. This over commitment sets us apart from our competitors and defines the spirit of ILTM,” added Ball.
The show’s amazing growth means that this year ILTM will bring more than 2,400 delegates to the City of Cannes and that the show will take over two floors at the Palais des Festivals.
This exponential growth represents the industry trend as a whole to compete for the top end of the market, a market held by only 3 per cent of travellers (those who can afford more than $25,000 in travel a year) and already representing $90bn (50 per cent more than all the luxury goods market put together). An industry growing so fast that it has actually forced luxury goods companies to plunge into this business in order to compensate for the fact that in terms of consumption patterns cash is definitely moving from goods to experience. We have already seen luxury goods groups such as Armani, Bulgari, Cerruti, Versace, Ferragamo, Shiseido, Guerlain, Ralph Lauren moving into the hospitality business.
The temptation is too strong to resist, according to Serge Dive, ILTM CEO. “Luxury spending in the world has been growing four times faster than overall spending,” he said. “This necessary consumption of the unnecessary is cutting across all but the lowest layers of society. The democratisation of luxury has certainly been the single most important marketing phenomenon of our times. Luxury is today where the money is not only because the middle market is going for it but because the rich are simply becoming richer but because there are more of them (about 500 billionaires and 26 million millionaires). The new phenomenon today is that luxury holidays are taking the lead and, therefore, becoming the most exciting industry that there is and the reasons for that have much to do with the fact that people under stress want to ‘get away from it all’ and that luxury holidays is the best tangible symbol of your social status.”
“We have seen the entry of many new products and companies at ILTM, not only into the exhibition but refocusing themselves at the top end of the market. Examples are the number of companies now entering into the space and gravity free market, and the variety of experience tourism available. We have, for example, the first products offering Siberian Safari and a high increase in cosmetic surgery vacations,” said David Hammond, managing director, ILTM. Also, on the more traditional side of luxury, the show is proud to welcome for the first-time companies such as Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari, Hyatt International, Langham Hotels, Rocco Forte, and Design Hotels. Also new destinations this year include Tourism Ireland, Oman, Maldives, Australia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Scotland, and Zambia.
Once again the exhibition will be preceded by a prestigious conference on December 6, sponsored by American Express and Departures Magazine and playing host to some of the leaders in the industry including Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso, Bill Fischer the “Secret Travel Agent” of the Stars and senior management from companies such as Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons and Blue Star Jets. The conference will typically deal with the issues facing the very top end of the market and the opportunities to increase business and improve practices but it will also focus on the opportunities offered by the “Trading Up” phenomenon discovered by the Boston Consulting Group: middle-market consumers, around the world, are trading up to New Luxury products and services that deliver higher levels of quality, taste, and aspiration than conventional ones. This Trading Up is defined by eight practises that will be exposed by Patrick Ducasse worldwide head of BCG’s Consumer and Retail practise to help ILTM exhibitors to take advantage of the New Luxury opportunity. Also a series of evening social functions will be repeated with the first night gala function being hosted by the Hotel Martinez and the second evening seeing the Hotel Majestic playing host to the delegates of ILTM.
“We really see the event now developing into a real festival not just an exhibition. We already know that the leading luminaries of the industry are seeing this as a must do event. It is not just the calibre of businesses at the event but the fact that in most cases their most senior people are there to interact on their companies’ behalf. Also, we are very proud to working in official partnerships with associations and companies as prestigious as Air France, Maison de la France, International Herald Tribune, Virtuoso and American Express,” added Hammond.
Commenting on the recent emergence of ILTM copies Dive said: “These organisers – unlike ILTM – are not trying to shape up this industry; they are just trying to cash in from a lucrative and extraordinary exciting industry. They simply cannot understand that there is as much difference between luxury travel market and the travel market in general that there is between haute couture and prêt a porter. Today, ILTM gets more influence from what Tom Ford has achieved with Gucci than from any other mainstream travel trade shows in the world. ILTM’s success is based on being the catwalk of the luxury travel industry, an event where only the most beautiful and wealthy happy few get to be invited. ILTM will keep innovating to make sure that it continues shaping this industry as the ultimate place to work in.”