I’ve now attended ILTM in Cannes for several years and always look forward to one of the best luxury travel shows on earth. Of course, it’s nice to be on the South of France every December, reuniting with industry friends and colleagues, but as a travel editor and writer, my mind is focused on news, trends, and business – at least during the day. We attend press briefings, schedule our own meetings, and are constantly eating, drinking, and socializing.
So, how do you stand out? This past year, I wrote 7 Luxury Travel Trends to Know Now – a piece that did phenomenally well on National Geographic, one of the most engaged digital brands in the world. It took me about 25 hours to pull this piece together. Most of it was pulled from the notes I took during ILTM (and no, I wasn’t texting or checking Instagram, I was scrambling to write notes on my iPhone!). I am always looking for trends that we haven’t seen before. Yes – health and wellness, multigenerational travel, and food are trends, but what are the new twists? What is new in river cruising?
Here are some tips to get spotted or seen by the international press that descends on ILTM:
- Schedule meetings before you go. Many hotels, tour operators, and cruise lines at ILTM use PR firms, who set up meetings before ILTM begins. But even if they don’t, it’s possible to find out which media are attending and start getting in touch. The emails start flying about six weeks before the conference starts. My goal is to always have breakfast with key people – execs and managers at top hotels, cruise lines, and more. Then I schedule drinks at night, even if it’s a 20-minute meeting. I keep wanting to stay one extra day to schedule Thursday meetings but I haven’t been able to yet. The point? Try to get on our schedule and tell us why you want to meet.
- Take online relationships offline. I always say social media has changed my career. It’s because I had a direct line to people I didn’t yet know. But I wanted those online relationships to go offline. If people in the travel industry friend me on Facebook, start interacting with my Instagram or Twitter – I almost always want to meet in person. This is a great tactic before the madness of ILTM begins.
- Focus on ONE key piece of news. We sit through daily press briefings, which are always helpful but I often want to say – Focus on one thing! What are the one, or two, things you want journalists to take away? If a hotel stands up and says “We want you to leave ILTM knowing about our new property in Bali,” I will remember that. It starts to get repetitive when each hotel group is announcing openings in Morocco and Oman. Of course, that could also be a trend to watch. Send us bullet points of news – 4 or 6 or however many top things I need to know.
- Tell us your own trends. Some trends in my piece came directly from breakfasts or lunches I attended (Intercontinental, Ritz-Carlton). Even if you don’t host a press lunch or breakfast, please do send trends and statistics you’re seeing our way. It’s extremely helpful and interesting and I personally love seeing how luxury travel brands are growing and changing.
- Hang out in the hotel lobbies. When I fly to France for ILTM, I just know I’ll average 3 hours of sleep during the conference and I plan my days accordingly. I love hanging out in the lobby where I’m staying (last year, it was the wonderful Carlton) when I have a break – usually around 5-7pm or after midnight. Of course, you see people at the parties as well. But sometimes it’s pure luck who you run into in a hotel lobby – and we all know how magical a glamorous hotel lobby can be. Settle down, order your favorite cocktail or cup of tea, and let the connections happen.
Know that ILTM extends far beyond the few days we are in Cannes. I can’t tell you how many times people I’ve met or stories I’ve heard made it into my stories later in the year.
Good luck and hope to meet you soon!
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