ILTM Asia 2012, the ‘invitation only’ exclusive event for planners and designers of bespoke luxury travel experiences, closed its sixth edition in Shanghai, China, with over 21,000 business appointments held over three days.
This year’s event saw 440 buyers – an increase of 20 per cent on last year’s event – and suppliers attend the show from 20 countries across the Asia Pacific.
“Returning to ILTM Asia for the third consecutive year we recognise the benefit of attending this show. Everyone is aware of the changing face of business and as we target Chinese and Indian consumers for growth, ILTM Asia has ensured the quality and calibre of buyers reflects this,” said Kozue Murakami, head of Far East sales, Maybourne Hotel Group.
“Great calibre of buyers, inspirational panel discussions and extremely beneficial networking events; there is no question we will be returning next year. With all eyes set on doing business with China, no other event offers the same range and level of opportunity to build relationships with top tier buyers from the Asia Pacific region,” added Mark Beverlo, international sales manager of The Ritz London.
As well as the established classics of luxury travel, ILTM Asia celebrates the independent and innovative experiences for the benefit of the Asia Pacific region’s most discerning luxury travel buyers.
“This was our first experience of an ILTM event. The quality of buyers is incredible and has opened up a host of new markets for us in the Asia Pacific region. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet the media from such a range of diverse countries and allow me the opportunity to introduce Zambezi Queen to this region,” said Tony Stern, CEO, owner and designer of Africa’s luxury river safari Zambezi Queen.
Brigitte Lammle of boutique cruises Antarctica XX1 commented: “This is our second ILTM Asia and we have been so busy we ran out of our material! We have seen repeat customers who are now active, and also met many new ones. The quality is good and the Asian market is booming.
“Thanks to ILTM Asia, one-fifth of our maximum capacity is now sold to the Chinese, despite people thinking that the Chinese market is taking time to access.”
One of the many highlights of this year’s event was the opening forum where figureheads from the luxury travel industry, including Ho Kwon Ping of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, shared their insights into Chinese consumer preferences, saying that the future of high-end travel will be driven by the emergence of ‘rainbow tourism’ made up of people of multicultural origins from mature markets and from the emerging Bric nations.
Ping said: “This emerging group of rainbow tourists is looking for authenticity and sustainability in the destinations that they visit.”
The forum also discussed ‘Why a changing luxury traveller demands change: Fostering entrepreneurship to address multicultural needs’ and featured pioneers and entrepreneurs from the luxury travel sector.
Panellist Leonardo Ferragamo, director of Salvatore Ferragamo and president of the Lungarno Collection, said: “Product owners must promote their own cultures and tell the true and authentic story of their heritage. Their luxury shopping bag should not comprise luxury items but memorable experiences.”
David Williams, chief marketing officer of Orient-Express, added: “There should be no knee-jerk reaction to match the needs and interests of individual nationalities of tourists. We must educate them about our local offerings and help them to experience and understand local cultures and the nuances of each market place in which we operate.”
Expanding economies, increasingly young and affluent populations, a growing desire for rare and rewarding experiences and an explosion of digital peer-to-peer research is also breeding a new and exciting groups of luxury travellers across Asia, according to Future Poll, the research division of The Future Laboratory, the leading consultancy for trend forecasting, brand strategy and consumer insight.
Alison Gilmore, ILTM Asia exhibition director, said: “The latest ILTM research offers a new perspective on Asian travellers that challenges preconceptions and brings down borders. These new luxury travel ‘tribes’ represent huge opportunities for brands to meet their challenging, sometimes contradictory demands.”
“Culture is undoubtedly one of the most important influencers on luxury travel choices. The new groups of high end travellers we have now identified are not necessarily defined by region but by their cultural behaviour and needs.”
Luxury pilgrims are increasingly aspirational, yet committed to their simple religious practices – more than 650 million Hindus and Sikhs embarked on pilgrimages in India in 2010, a rise of 15.5 per cent on the previous year. In addition, cultural curiosity about ethnic heritage is fuelling ‘greenshoots’ Chinese Singaporeans for example, to explore China itself.
“Indian luxury travellers’ spend has risen from $475 per person to over $1000 and we are seeking double digit growth in our outbound business,” says Vikram Madhok, managing director, Abercrombie & Kent India.
ILTM Asia 2013 will take place from June 3 to 6, 2013 again in Shanghai.
ILTM’s focus will now turn to the launch of ILTM Americas taking place from with to in Mayakoba, Mexico, and the continued success of ILTM, December 3 to 6, 2012 in Cannes, France.