Showcasing Luxury in Mayakoba
By James Shillinglaw
September 24, 2012 11:45 PM
A week from today I’ll be in Mayakoba on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I won’t necessarily be soaking up the sun or enjoying some of Mexico’s most luxurious resorts (well, maybe a little). I’ll be there instead to attend the inaugural International Luxury Travel Market-Americas (ILTM-Americas), set to take place Oct. 1-3. This is a regional version of the large ILTM-Cannes show, which truly is the largest luxury travel trade show in the business today.
Our company, travAlliancemedia, is the U.S. travel trade partner for ILTM-Americas, so we’ll be covering the event. We’ve also helped promote it in our magazines and online media, though to be honest the show’s goal was never attendance. Indeed, it reached its full capacity for exhibitors and travel agents earlier this summer. Roughly 300 are expected to attend – about half of them travel agents and the other half exhibitors. This show isn’t about lots of numbers, it’s about networking between top luxury selling travel agents and high-end hotels, resorts, tour operators and cruise lines.
ILTM-Americas kicks off on Monday, Oct. 1., with a seminar program starting in the late afternoon. Session 1 examines “the three most misused words in travel-Ecotourism, Volunteerism and Sustainability. This session, moderated by Peter Greenburg, travel editor for CBS News, will feature Sarah Dayboll, director of environmental Affairs for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; Zachory Rabinor, founder and president of Journey Mexico; and Ken Budd of the American Association of Retired Persons.
Session 2 is focused on “social media-is it more than just participating in Facebook and Twitter?” This session, moderated by Mario Jobbe, co-founder and chief operating officer of Brand Karma, will feature Erina Pindar, travel advisor for SmartFlyer; Kittisak Pattamasaevi of Trisara Hotel; and Wendy Perrin, director of consumer news and digital community for Condé Nast Traveler.
Those two opening seminars are followed by the ILTM Americas Opening Forum sponsored by Travesias, the Latin American travel magazine. The opening session will feature Peter Greenberg again in a conversation with Sergio Diaz-Grandas Guida, Minister of Commerce, Industry & Tourism for Colombia, and Salomon Shamah, Minister of Tourism for Panama.
That will be followed by a session on marketing luxury travel moderated by Javier Arredondo, chairman of Travesias, with a panel that will include Carlos Couturier, founder of Grupo Habita; Jose Koechlin, founder of Inkaterra; Nicolas Peluffo, managing director of Ponta dos Ganchos; and Shelby Donley, president and owner of Camelback Odyssey Travel in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The opening session will conclude with an interview with Claudia Madrazo, founder of Catherwood Travels in Yucatan, who is considered to be one of the most visionary philanthropists in the Americas. Attendees will hear the story of how Catherwood restored the first haciendas in Yucatan and how it created a foundation to work with local communities, protect the environment and support areas for archaeological research in the Mayan world.
Both Tuesday, Oct. 2, and Wednesday, Oct. 3, will be devoted to ILTM-Americas’ pre-Scheduled Appointment Program, which the show’s organizers describe as the heart of the event. The program allows agents and suppliers to choose who they want to meet with, ensuring they can meet their business objectives. For a full list of luxury exhibitors, click on ILTM-Americas Exhibitors.
ILTM-Americas also will feature top evening networking events, including the ILTM Americas Welcome Reception on Monday, Oct. 1, at the host hotel, the Fairmont Mayakoba. Other high-end resort properties being used for the event include the Rosewood Mayakoba and the Banyan Tree Mayakoba. On Tuesday, Oct. 2, the ILTM Americas Gala Reception will take place at Xcaret with the Mexico Tourism Board and Riviera Maya Tourism. Finally, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, the ILTM Americas Dinner will take place at Maroma Resort & Spa by Orient Express.
So watch this space next week for more reports from ILTM-Americas. We’ll be interviewing the participants and looking for new trends in luxury travel. You’ll see TravelPulse.com reports from the show, as well as video interviews with agents and exhibitors later in October. As for me, I’m looking forward to enjoying my time in Mayakoba. I’ll be working – but I also want to experience everything this luxury enclave on the Riviera Maya has to offer.
James Shillinglaw is editor in chief of travAlliancemedia, parent of TravelPulse.com, Agent@Home magazine and Vacation Agent magazine.