Luxury Comes to the Americas
By James Shillinglaw
July 26, 2012 11:45 PM
Luxury travel remains the Holy Grail for most travel agents today. In order to better sell luxury, you need to have great product knowledge and superb contacts. For several years now one way to get access to such products and contacts was to attend the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) in Cannes, France. This invitation-only event, held every December, allows luxury travel buyers (agents) to meet with high-end hotels, hotel chains, cruise lines, tour operators and other luxury suppliers.
Now, for the first time ILTM is coming to the Americas. The ILTM Americas summit will debut this Oct. 1-3 in the resort destination of Mayakoba on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Attendance is limited to roughly 130 global travel suppliers and 130 high-end travel agents from North, Central and South America. ILTM Americas reached maximum capacity for travel suppliers in July, but is still inviting qualified travel agents.
ILTM Americas focuses exclusively on the world’s largest outbound luxury travel market, North America, and the rapidly emerging Latin American market. Only the best luxury travel agents from the Americas region are being invited to meet with accredited global luxury suppliers in series of 15-minute pre-set appointments.
The new event is being launched with the full support of the Mexico Tourism Board and Riviera Maya regional tourist board. ILTM Americas also will offer a detailed education program. Featured host resorts include the five-star Fairmont Mayakoba, Banyon Tree Mayakoba and Rosewood Mayakoba.
“Riviera Maya is all about luxury travel today so it’s the perfect host for ILTM Americas,” says Simon Mayle, ILTM’s head of marketing and buyer programs. “Very few destinations offer such an overwhelming ‘sense of place’ and the resort is one of a kind, nestled amongst jungle mangroves and lagoons and at one with the natural environment.”
The final list of luxury suppliers at this inaugural event include some of the world’s most unique hotels, spa and wellness escapes, and gastronomic, cultural and wilderness experiences. For example, attendees include Luxury Lodges of Australia, showcasing an Australian luxury outback experience; La Residence in Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands of South Africa; The Ritz, London; The Racha in Thailand; and La Mamounia in Marrakech.
In addition, Mexico and Riviera Maya tourism boards are working closely with ILTM to develop a series of top-notch special events where attendees can network with each other and enjoy the luxury experience that the region has to offer. Celebrations will take place at such venues as Xcaret archaeological park, Orient-Express’ Maroma Resort & Spa, and the Fairmont Mayakoba.
ILTM Americas also has partnered with Travesias, Mexico’s leading luxury lifestyle magazine, to produce the program, and with TravallianceMedia, parent company of Vacation Agent magazine, Agent@Home magazine and TravelPulse.com, to provide trade support in the United States.
The event’s tentative program includes the following: On Monday, Oct. 1, ILTM Americas will kick off at 4 p.m. with an educational seminar on the “Three Most Misused Words in Travel-Ecotourism, Volunteerism and Sustainability.” Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS, moderate a panel that will include representatives of the American Association of Retired Persons, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Journey Mexico. Also at 4 p.m. will be another educational seminar focused on social media that will be moderated by Mario Jobbe, co-founder and chief operating officer of Brand Karma.
At 5:30 p.m. on Oct 1, ILTM Americas will hold an opening forum with Greenberg moderating a panel that will include the ministers of tourism for Colombia and Ecuador. A second session, scheduled for 6 p.m. will take a look at how luxury travel is marketed. This session, moderated by Javier Arredondo, founder of Travesias, will include Carlos Couturier, founder of Grupo Habita Hotels; Francesco Galli, founder of Aqua Expeditions; and other panelists.
Also on Oct. 1, at 6:40 p.m. Arredondo will conduct a one-on-one interview with Claudia Madrazo, founder of Catherwood Travels in Yucatan. Madrazo will relate how his group restored the first haciendas in Yucatan, created a foundation to work with local communities, helped protect the environment and supported archaeological research in the Mayan world. That will be followed at 7 p.m. by the ILTM Americas welcome reception at La Laguna at the Fairmont Mayakoba.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, pre-scheduled appointments will take place from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the Fairmont Mayakoba. At 8 p.m. the ILTM Americas Gala Reception will be held at Xcaret archeological park, sponsored by the Mexico Tourism Board and Riviera Maya. On Wednesday, Oct. 3, pre-scheduled appointments will again take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Fairmont Mayakoba. The ILTM Americas Dinner at the Maroma Resort & Spa by Orient-Express will follow at 7:30 p.m.
James Shillinglaw is editor in chief and editorial director of travAlliancemedia, parent company of TravelPulse.com, Agent@Home magazine and Vacation Agent magazine. He will be attending ILTM Americas in October.