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Now in its 10th edition, the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, France, will showcase the industry’s diversity while examining the latest trends in luxury travel

AS the 10th International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, France, opens its doors to the future of luxury travel from December 5 to 8, TTN speaks to Simon Mayle, ILTM marketing manager.

What can exhibitors and hosted buyers look forward to at ILTM 2011?

We are delighted to be celebrating 10 successful years of ILTM as the leading ‘private’ event in luxury travel bringing together the world’s leading purveyors of luxury travel with a collection of unique travel suppliers to allow relationships to develop.  We continually seek the newest and most exciting additions to luxury travel experiences as well as providing the global platform for the most classic and recognised in luxury travel. 

This year, we will reveal insights and trends into the future of luxury travel and address the needs of the new generation of luxury travellers at the ILTM Ultratravel Forum, with a high-profile panel comprising Ellen Bettridge, vice president of US Retail Travel Network, American Express; Justin Wateridge, UK managing director, Abercrombie Kent; Frank van der Post, managing director Brands and Customer Experience, British Airways, Jennifer Fox, president, Fairmont Hotel Resorts and the Honorable Sir Rocco Forte, chairman, Rocco Forte Hotels.

Finally, we are delighted to welcome Isadore Sharp, the founder of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, as ILTM’s guest of honour this year.

What’s new at ILTM 2011?

ILTM will reveal the hottest new gastronomic delights, chic boutique hotels, most private island getaways, relaxing spa and wellness retreats and authentic experiences – many of these new and independent discoveries could well be the ‘next big thing’.

Following its successful launch at ILTM Asia earlier this year, ILTM will introduce a dedicated education programme in Cannes to help both luxury buyers and suppliers understand clients’ needs and deliver the highest standards of service. The programme takes place on December 5 at 3 pm at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and comprises tailored seminars led by luxury travel experts. These sessions will offer insights into the Asian market; the Latin-American market; how best to engage with the cruise market; understanding the role of an luxury inbound tour operator, CSR and a focus on the very topical boom in gastronomy across luxury travel worldwide.

In our recent Global Trends Report, we identified that luxury travellers today focus on authenticity and experiential travel, including off-the-beaten-track destinations, environmental commitment and culinary experiences and adventure. We will respond to the demand to see more new and exciting authentic products and highlight some of these ‘hidden gems’ taking part in ILTM to our hosted media who attend the event from across the world.

Can we expect to see new exhibitors and products?

More than 1,200 suppliers will cover the complete range of luxury travel at ILTM 2011, 51 from the Middle East, compared to the 40 that attended ILTM 2010.

The show is recognised as the leading event for the luxury travel community. We have achieved this by continually seeking the newest and most exciting additions to luxury travel experiences including Riad Kneife Vintage and Design Shopping Services, which offers a tailored and unique approach to the largest vintage and design markets in France; Pikaia Lodge, which takes luxury eco-adventure travel in the Galapagos Islands to its next level; and Calvados Club takes visitors on a unique journey through the old world charm and chic retreats of Croatia.

ILTM will also feature 1,200 hosted buyers, 63 of whom are from the Middle East, while each buyer will take part in 52 meetings.

The Ultratravel Forum will discuss ‘The Needs of the New Generation of Luxury Travellers’? How would you define the new generation luxury traveller?

This new generation 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. They are interested in getting ‘under the skin’ of the destination and looking for their luxury supplier to be engaged with and giving back to their local communities.

Gastronomy is also important – spending time with a top sommelier, enjoying master-cookery classes, joining the chef when he goes to the market.

Emerging new destinations is another trend. Luxury travellers like the feeling that they are explorers discovering a new destination. Myanmar, Cambodia, Bhutan, Asia and Latin America fulfil this remit as does Croatia and Iceland.

What kind of products are these new generation luxury buyers looking for?

Delivering the highest standards of service is paramount to elite travellers, but nowadays, so too is a dedicated and active environmental programme and a commitment to corporate social responsibility.

ILTM 2011 will welcome travel suppliers who have developed products designed with its surroundings and local communities in mind. For example the 18-roomed Cicada Lodge in Australia which opens next year will enable guests to visit the oldest known indigenous rock art site in the world (only accessible by helicopter), still wholly owned by the indigenous Jawoyn people – the oldest living culture in the world.

On the other side of the world, Pikaia Lodge is the next step in the evolution of luxury eco-adventure in the Galapagos Islands – a five-star eco-lodge, set to open in 2013 after almost 15 years planning to meet the highest of levels of environmental design and carbon neutral operation. The past four years has also seen its owners build a comprehensive social responsibility programme with the local community.

ILTM is also profiling tours of the Antarctic, snow-polo and safaris – a truly eclectic range in luxury travel.

What is the extent of luxury travel in the Middle East?

The Middle East travel market is key for ILTM as it is still one of the fastest growing inbound markets as well as one of the fastest growing outbound markets. The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has recently revealed that within the next 20 years, two million additional Arabs will travel abroad. Moreover the Middle East is a popular destination for many luxury travellers because of the fascinating cultural heritage and the high level of service.

What is the future of luxury travel and what new trends can we expect to see in 2012?

Our research is showing that the luxury travel market 2011 is healthier than 2010 and the signs are that 2012 will be the first year of real growth. Luxury travel remains all about delivering value, both in terms of personal value and value for money. Luxury travellers are very clear about their preferences. They 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.

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