Posts by: ILTM

Hyatt Luxury Insights Session

Hyatt Luxury Insights Session

Recently, ILTM’s Portfolio Director, Alison Gilmore was invited to a panel talk hosted by Hyatt to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the luxury travel landscape. Making up the panel was Matthew Upchurch, Chairman, and CEO of Virtuoso, Jack Horne, the Global Head of Sales and Revenue for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and the host, Tristan Dowell, the Global Vice President of Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

Together, these key names in luxury discussed the impact of COVID-19 on luxury, the trends that have surfaced in its wake, the importance of wellbeing in these tumultuous times, and the likely shape of recovery. For all that and more, watch the conversation right here:

Millennials, COVID, and the Future of Travel

Millennials, COVID, and the Future of Travel

It’s not a total surprise that millennials are being eyed by the travel community with renewed interest right now. With their idiosyncratic break from traditional values, the millennial demographic has always foretold the future of travel. In fact, their desire to find new ways to see the world is so big, in a 2019 Deloitte study, 57% reported that seeing or travelling the world was their number one ambition, even overtaking high earning, owning a home, and having children.

A Giant Generation

If millennials were but a small drop in the ocean, then their power to influence commercial markets and industries would be less interesting. However, consider the fact that it is, in fact, the largest generation in the world, and our ears start to prick up…

“The millennials’ generation are, in size, larger than any other adult cohort. For example, worldwide, there are a quarter more millennials than in the preceding generation” MSCI

Collectively then, millennials are a significant force within commercial markets by their sheer numbers and combined with their emphasis on travelling and experiences, they are a demographic that the luxury travel industry would be wise now more than ever, to take note of.

Millennials And Money

Whilst the ‘affluent millennial’ is a growing market, it is more common for millennials to be conflated with their younger Gen Z counterparts, with the assumption being that their financial power is limited. Not so. In reality, many millennials are now in their thirties and have an education level far beyond that of the boomer demographic, which as a result, has opened the doors to well-paid employment. Couple this with their new attitudes towards tradition, either buying homes or having families, and we’re left with a generation who have a strong desire for meaningful travel experiences and more disposable income in which to do so.

It’s also worth noting that while HNW individuals and millennials are not mutually exclusive, the average age of most HNW individuals is 58 and so are considerably older than the oldest millennial making this a less significant sub-demographic. (See Wealth-X’s 2019 High Net Worth Handbook).

Despite the various socioeconomic issues tripping up all age groups right now, millennials included, the spend and value they are placing on travel are impossible to ignore and already shaping how travel brands ready themselves for 2021.

Bold In The Face Of Uncertainty

With the pandemic still refusing to submit, perhaps the key factor for travel marketers is that the millennial generation is more likely than other age brackets to consider returning to travelling again in spite of the risk:

“Millennials consistently answered that they will be more willing to travel sooner than Gen X and Boomers, and are less risk-averse.”  Fuel Travel

Of course, it’s perhaps unsurprising that millennials have been unfazed about travel. They do not have the same health concerns as older generations do. The oldest millennial is just under 40 years old and therefore travelling is still an unwavering priority for this vast generation who seem to live by the rule of ‘if not now, when?’. Added to that, it can be said that the millennial generation has already faced so much uncertainty in its lifetime that the pandemic, to them, is simply yet another unknown.

Much of this generation entered the workforce during the financial crisis of 2008, saddled with academic debt. University, the head-straight-to-go card of the generation before, instead became an expensive gamble in an educationally saturated and disrupted job market. And of course, while jobs became elusive and salaries stagnated, the property market inflated like never before.

Adding another layer of uncertainty came the horrors of 9/11 and a new landscape of fear that drove home the message that nothing and no one was untouchable. And through it all, young millennials were attempting to build a life. Little surprise then that in the wake of yet another disaster now that they’re keeping their goals firmly in mind.

“In order to make it in this unpredictable world, the millennial generation has had to learn to adapt.” inRiver

Sometimes named the anxious generation, millennials are living for the pursuit of meaning in what has been a tumultuous period in history and it’s no wonder that they, along with most who travel, find much of their meaning in exploring new terrains and tides.

Millennial-Made Travel and the New World

“millennials will likely offer the industry a lifeline during the recovery” Deloitte

As the travel industry has understood for a while now, millennials harbour a complicated mix of desires in their travel plans. Their travels often need to be sharable on social media, affordable, authentic, sustainable and rife with experiences all of which research has pointed to time and time again:

  • “78% of Millennials likely to choose sustainable travel options when planning and booking their travel” Booking.Com
  • “millennials want to seize the moment…millennials are simply enjoying experiences over things, access over ownership.” Forbes
  • “37% say the ability to post beautiful images and videos when they are on holiday influences where they travel to” The Telegraph
  • “Around 86 percent of millennials chose experiencing a new culture over partying (44 percent) and shopping (28 percent” The Wandering RV
  • “many Millennials tend to prefer to save on accommodation costs in order to spend more on unique experiences”  Eran Ketter

The Good News

The good news is that reaching out to the millennial generation isn’t an exclusive task that requires a total revamp of your brand. Many of the things a millennial wants are by and large what we all want and added to that, many millennials are already engaging with luxury travel in ways unexpected of them. For example, those tasked with creating travel itineraries should note that a recent study by The Advantage Travel Partnership discovered that: “44% of Millennials would book with a travel agent in the future”, which again, is a break from what has traditionally been expected of millennials whom we were all told would only book online via their phones.

However, the millennial influence on luxury travel has much more longevity than that.

The core reason millennials are so important in helping the luxury travel industry recover is not only down to their unwavering loyalty to living in the moment, nor for their size or receptiveness to millennial-focused projects, but because the future is millennial.

What was once characterised as a demographic is increasingly being defined as a mindset, and it already seems that in many ways other generations are getting on board with this millennial perspective.

Gen Z perhaps mirror them most closely, especially when it comes to touting travel as their main priority but it is not simply a case of millennials leading the way and influencing the younger generation, but that collectively both demographics also influence older generations, setting the bar for what the ever-elusive and endlessly-referenced ‘new normal’ post-covid will be:

“With or without a crisis, these generational cohorts are of special interest, given their increasing spending power in the coming years and their ability to influence older generations.” Boston Consulting Group

Luxury travel in 2021 will be undoubtedly different and the industry has already shown incredible adaptability in how it has pivoted to meet the new needs of the market. Combined with the millennial mindset that increasingly transcends generations, it seems that we have every right to be hopeful.

Announcing The ILTM World Tour

Announcing The ILTM World Tour

With our industry in disarray and disruption being the calling card of 2020, ILTM Cannes was going to be the well-deserved boost we all needed, but despite our best efforts to make a face-to-face event happen this year and as great as our disappointment is, our responsibility for the safety of our guests is much greater.

The Exciting Part…

Nothing will ever replace meeting face-to-face and we didn’t feel we would do ILTM justice by simply offering an online alternative, which is why instead we’ve decided to do something different.

So, we would like to announce and invite you to the ILTM World Tour.

3 days a week for 3 weeks across 3 global regions:

  • Starting with sunrise in Asia Pacific(17/18/19 November)
  • Moving north to Europe, Middle East and Africa(23/24/25 November)
  • Crossing the Atlantic to the Americas (North & South)(1/2/3 December)

Events will happen in the buyer’s regional time-zones, and what’s more, suppliers can attend one week, two weeks or all three, giving them the opportunity to meet and discover new source markets, plus the flexibility to design an appointment diary that reflects their strategy for 2021.

With the opportunity to reach out to new markets across the world, the ILTM World Tour will be a global celebration of our industry with an emphasis on preparing you for the recovery.

It will allow buyers from these regions to have the opportunity to meet with suppliers from across the world and explore new markets.

We are creating short days, the ability to create your own bespoke schedule, and spreading the meetings out over 3 weeks, allowing you to schedule a large number of meetings around your daily workload.

Here is a snapshot of how our tour will go:

Week 1 APAC: Tuesday 17, Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 November 2020

The first leg of our journey offers a wealth of value and will kick the tour off in style. Developing relationships in this key region of growth is vital to luxury suppliers, and with the ILTM World Tour, it’s now right in reach.

Week 2 EMEA: Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 November 2020

This culturally diverse region offers Europe’s big spenders alongside the wealth of the Middle East and Africa. Ideal for those looking to make waves in a growing and receptive market.

Week 3: AMERICAS Tuesday 01, Wednesday 02 and Thursday 03 December 2020

Containing the world’s largest economy and bursting with opportunities and new discoveries.

One-to-one meetings are the heart of the ILTM World Tour and your journey with us will feature:

  • The ability to build your personalised user profile via your unique login details
  • Private and direct access to your company’s diary to arrange 15-min meetings
  • Visibility of your company’s tailored profile in the online Exhibitor Directory (for suppliers)
  • Unlimited access to exclusive content during the tour and beyond

This tour will be unlike your average online backup plan. Instead, the ILTM World Tour will be about reconnecting in readiness for the future.

We’re sad not to see you in person this year, but in the meantime, we’d love to have you travelling the world with us. Contact the sales team and join us on the ultimate ILTM World Tour.

The Road to Cannes

The Road to Cannes

In years to come, when we look back at 2020, we will no doubt describe it as a turning point for the luxury travel industry. The ebb and flow of change that was lapping at our industry’s shore has been replaced with something more persistent, and with every passing day, the desire to travel wrestles with the challenges that prevent us from doing so.

Here at ILTM, we’re as much in a state of limbo as anyone else and with our much-loved Cannes event on the horizon and the luxury travel landscape in flux, it seems that the need for transparency and honesty is more important than ever before. Because, as much as 2020 will undoubtedly be remembered as a turning point, it will also be remembered as the year our community showed up with remarkable resilience, connection and friendship. It is these qualities that drive what we do here at ILTM and now with the industry in need of a boost, we want to be there to help carry the load.

To that aim, ILTM Portfolio Director Alison Gilmore visited Cannes recently to meet our partners in the region and find out how they are, 5 months on from the initial break of the pandemic:

There’s no doubt then that we face some challenges ahead. With countries and regions diving in and out of lockdown and quarantine rules becoming increasingly normal, the road back to travelling in a usual fashion may be a long one. However, though the fluctuations continue, so too does our resilience and positivity.

France’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness recently announced that, as of September 1st, events and trade shows will be able to resume. Though likely smaller and with heightened safety features in place, France is already making big steps towards recouping what the travel industry has lost thus far.

Closer to home, ILTM has also seen plenty of signs that the travel industry is picking up; with just under 500 registered qualified travel advisors already signed up and ready to join us in Cannes. All this along with data pointing towards a steady climb in traveller confidence is undoubtedly a cause for celebration and we can only hope it’s an upward trajectory that continues.

And this is what ILTM Cannes 2020 is; an event to kick-start the rebuilding of our industry. For those able to join us, we want to recognise the key role that you’re playing in this rebuild, helping to reconnect travellers with the experiences they crave and forging ever stronger bonds in the quest to keep them safe.

How we do this is the next big mountain. Of course, we can’t make predictions about tomorrow. We cannot offer unflinching absolutes in a world that changes daily, but we can recognize that the travel industry not only wants to travel, it needs to. As such, ILTM is committed to providing the industry with the reset it needs this December.

But what would a reset look like? The industry we love has been written and reckoned about for months, with a great many saying it will never be the same again. And they’re right. But change isn’t a synonym for standstill and the changes we predict are far from terrible. They are the heart of what travel has always – and should always – be about. The authentic, intimate and meaningful moments we find when we open our hearts and concentrate on the people and places we love.

At ILTM, we have been riding the waves of many trends and changes but never before have we been so weighed with responsibility and warmth to our industry; with such pride for our community who have shown such grace and robustness in what has been world-turning times.

Whether we’re lucky enough to see you at Cannes this year or whether the circumstances prohibit you, we want everyone to know that you’ll always be among friends with ILTM. As a brand, we’re made up of individuals who are in love with this industry and we want nothing more than to work with it every step of the way to build its future.

Friends, there’s no denying it’s been hard, but we stand now looking out toward Cannes and what comes after with hope and a whole lot of determination. We hope you can join us.

The ILTM Team.

For regular updates please see:

Why Travel Advisors Are Everyone’s Best Friend Right Now

Why Travel Advisors Are Everyone’s Best Friend Right Now

While it’s clear that the pandemic hasn’t put an end to the desire to travel, how clients book and the priorities they now hold have undoubtedly shifted. This modified attitude towards travel has manifested in a variety of ways, not least of all in creating a new dimension of discourse between brands, advisors and their clients. 

The urge to travel, coupled with the new concerns around safety has begun to redefine the industry and refocus these relationships towards authenticity and loyalty. The role of the advisor has become ever more elevated and is fundamental to the way people buy and sell travel. Working closer than ever with their clients, advisors are the translators of this new language, increasing the need for constant communication between travel advisors and their partnered travel brands.

When ILTM reached out to various travel advisors about this topic, it was evident that their role within the luxury travel industry had already adapted and that the expectations from both clients and brands had shifted significantly in the wake of the pandemic.

Travel Advisors Build Essential Confidence About Safety

Unsurprisingly, one of the clearest changes was the new language of safety. While many HNW individuals are clearly ready to travel (64% of agents we spoke to have received bookings since the start of the COVID-19 crisis as outlined in our recent Buyer Survey) it is not without a need for reassurance:

“There seems to be a tendency towards familiar resorts and destinations with clients wanting to stay within their ‘comfort zone’. Clients generally seem confident that the high-end resorts and destinations will be complying to new health and safety regulations so this has not been an issue for new enquiries” – Melissa Roston of Colletts Travel

The need for staying within comfort zones as well as leaning towards the familiar is, of course, all symptomatic of a need for reassurance and was a clear trend within our Buyer Survey. For example, 39% of those clients willing to travel were taking domestic flights only. This concern with safety came up again and again in the various conversations we had with advisors:

“People want to travel, they want a holiday, but they want to do it in a safe and comfortable way that makes them feel secure.”– Andrew Steinberg of Ovation Travel

“Since the beginning of May, our high net worth customers have been increasingly travelling regionally, making their choices by brand and location – and not price.” – James Liao of HelmsBriscoe

This heightened need for safety is a new angle for travel advisors but as has always been the case, it’s their business to be the authority on all things that interest and concern their clients. Now, in an era of high anxiety, luxury travellers are leaning on travel advisors heavily as voices of authority when it comes to travelling safely:

“It is a new language for all of us to learn and definitely a new and definite addition for the trip planning process with clients. While it may seem overwhelming, Advisors will get used to this. What we are doing at TTI is making ‘Safeguarding the Traveller Journey’ a topic at our weekly town hall meetings.” – Lucy Vieira of TTI Travel

Moreover, brands are looking to advisors to help push their new protocols and assist in rebuilding customer confidence, amplifying their messages about reopening and safety. The media too, recognising the key role advisors play, are also sourcing their stories off the back of conversations with agents, considering them direct sources for how both brands and their clients feel about the current situation.

Travel Advisors Offer a Genuine Personal Touch

While agents have always been a key source of information and well utilised when it comes to creating travel itinerates for many, there are, of course, alternative options available to travellers like online booking systems. Booking online and through various sites without any human interaction needed has continuously been touted as convenient and hassle-free, but it becomes clear, especially in times like these, that nothing can beat the reassurance of an authentic interaction with an adviser. It’s also clear that in times of crisis, trust becomes a core commodity that clients look for, returning to or maintaining those connections they trust in rather than looking elsewhere:

“Our clients have been amazing and in fact, a positive from this whole situation is a growing realisation that booking through a reputable agent is much more reassuring than an online booking engine – the personal connection really does matter. There is a lot of positive social media out there supporting travel agents and planners too.”- Debbie Collins of Spencer Travel

“Our clients want to travel and our aim is to inspire them with the confidence they need to explore the world with us again when borders safely open. We are constantly updating them about the incredible efforts of our partners to safeguard their future journeys in luxury.” – Lucy Vieira of TTI Travel

Put simply, computers can’t ease our fears the way a person can and nor can they generate trust the way a travel advisor can. Right now, travel seems rife with questions from uncertain clients and anxious brands trying to navigate this new terrain. Supporting both are advisors and the power of their role in this way has never been so starkly illustrated as during this pandemic.

Travel Advisors Are the Prime Source of Travel Trends

With years of forging long-lasting relationships with HNW clients under their belts, travel agents are often the direct source of insight for the media wanting to report on the changing trends of the luxury travel market. By keeping in constant contact with their HNW travellers throughout the pandemic, agents are perfectly placed to provide the media with up-to-the-minute data on what clients are concerned about or looking for next.

Travel Advisors Appreciate the Importance of Family

As we all know only too well, this period of restriction has separated families, sometimes for months, and so when restrictions began to ease slightly it’s little wonder that family travel was top of the agenda. In fact, we discovered from our Buyer Survey that 55% of trips booked were family holidays, many of which were doubtlessly reuniting many people after unprecedented periods of isolation. With their personalised knowledge and connections, travel advisors are primed to meet these needs and make these important family holidays memorable for all the right reasons:

“At the end of May we started receiving a few requests like a honeymoon to Dubai and Seychelles, New Year’s trips to ski in Vail, a family trip to India for Easter week 2021, etc. I think this is very positive, the clients are just waiting for the COVID crisis to be controlled so they can start planning their trips.” – Maria Elena Gamboa Vazquez of DG Luxury Essential

With their ears to the ground throughout this crisis and a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, travel advisors can provide clients with family holidays that make up for the long periods of separation.

Travel Advisors Provide the Support Hoteliers Need Right Now

With the pandemic still very much at the forefront, it’s no surprise that brands are suffering. Whether it’s travel restrictions to general uncertainty, being able to continue in the current climate is proving a challenge. Many hotels and experiences are finally reopening all over the world, but are struggling against a backdrop of indecision that stems not only from safety concerns but logistics too:

“My luxury travellers are emailing me constantly in regards to what is open and what is safe – they are keen to go where and when they can as soon as possible. Also, I think my position as a travel consultant will be that more pertinent as luxury travel re-builds, trusting in our relationships with our travel colleagues and hoteliers for suppliers” – Brittney Magner of Royal Travel & Tours

“At this stage communication is key. We have to be informed about our suppliers and the innumerous changes that they are going through. New protocols and opening dates also need to be aligned with not only the Country protocols, but with that of the Government, City, and finally County protocols!” – Felipe Soubhia of PHD Travel

The understandable uncertainty about what is open, where it’s open and what the protocols are, have all become very much part of the new language of luxury advisors. Not only is this good news for travellers seeking to venture back to new locations, but also for hoteliers who are desperate to get their businesses back up and running. Travel agents everywhere recognise that the key elements stopping people from travelling currently are all in some way linked back to uncertainty and have become essential when bridging this communication gap between brands and HNW travellers.

Travel Advisors Have Become Experts Of Domestic Travel

Prior to the pandemic, many travel agents were masters of pushing locations beyond their own shores, yet since the crisis began many have had to switch tactics with incredible speed. With the desire to travel wrestling with the anxiety of straying too far from home, domestic travel was bound to increase as was touched upon in a recent article by Anthony Goldman:

“The irony is that our travel advisors need to become quick experts in selling domestic and regional travel. Fast. We are great sellers of Europe, Asia and the Americas. We have never been super-sellers of our own region. We are better at selling Sicily than Sydney. Better at selling Madrid than Melbourne.” – Anthony Goldman of the Goldman Group

This quick turnaround has gone a long way towards keeping the industry afloat during the crisis and will perhaps see continued demand for this type of travel post-COVID-19.

Travel Advisors Can Provide Clients With The Flexibility They Now Need

The reality at the heart of travel currently is that many people are ready to travel again but they are at a loss as to where to begin. With so much change in such a short time, clients are wrestling with not only uncertainties about how safe it is to travel but where exactly they can go and how to get there. This level of flexibility is something an online system can’t manage and even brands themselves can only offer so much advice, but for an agent, this is their bread and butter:

“We’ve also noted how flexible our clients are: they just want to get away but don’t know how, where to go, what the local regulations are, etc. and come to me with extremely open-ended requests…The process from initial inquiry to booking is now much lengthier but it’s great to see bookings bouncing back.” – Elyssa Roberts of Marchay

“The flexibility of the flights makes it easier to know that they have two years to use the tickets if things do not improve. Other clients include those looking for a multi-generational trip to Cancun (very flexible on dates) and also 40 people travelling to Puerto Vallarta in September – flexibility is the name of the game in luxury travel at the moment.” – George Carrancho of First in Service

This innate ability to work with clients who have limited perimeters has always given advisors an edge over other travel organisational systems, and during a time when clients can be nothing but flexible it is a trait that is making them invaluable to clients. Planning is what agents do best and even when options and choices can change day-to-day, travel advisors are armed with a knowledge-base that allows them to adapt and overcome for the benefit of both brands and clients.

Travel Advisors Have Been Preparing for the Future

Despite the sudden halt to travel earlier in the year and the slow return now, travel advisors have continued to network and increase their connections. This activity during the lull of the industry allows for a quicker recovery and stronger businesses once travellers are fully committed to taking trips once more:

“I have continued to build my network of connections with luxury suppliers and properties as it is these relationships that are so important to my business and hence why ILTM is so important to me. I will be back strong in 2021.” – Mary Krueger of Travel Leaders

This continued networking has all been working towards the future, one that advisors know better than anyone will include a return to travel and with plans put in place now, the recovery will be all the smoother for it. In fact, when we asked travel advisors about their estimations on the recovery time of the travel industry as part of our research over 50% expected a full recovery within a year.

Beyond simple future-proofing of businesses, however, is the realisation that this is a key time to discover new brands and new experiences for clients in what will be the changed landscape of luxury travel. This ever-watchful eye on the industry as a whole has always been what has made travel advisors so key to all involved – not just clients looking for new experiences – but brands eager to keep ahead of the changing needs and wants of their customers too.

The Future Is Personal

“A disproportionate number of Brownell’s new travel inquiries have come from consumers who have never used a travel advisor before. Travellers are waking up to the fact that they need a resource and an advocate to reach out to when, not if, requirements change.”- Haisley Smith of Brownell Travel

It’s never been so clear that travel advisors are as much the glue as they are the guides of the travel industry. Not only are they the experts on their destinations and brands, but they are a key link in the chain of communication between clients, the media and brands too. Tasked with generating confidence and rebuilding the ways and means of travelling, it’s no doubt at the moment that all parties involved are deeply thankful for the travel advisors they work with.

With that in mind, we at ILTM are working hard to put everything in place for a safe return to Cannes in 2020 to celebrate our resilient industry 2020.

European Luxury Travellers Gaining Confidence

European Luxury Travellers Gaining Confidence

Just five months on from the start of the European lockdowns, ILTM has been able to reveal some stark insights that show a remarkable return of confidence. Out of the many findings that our Global Buyer Survey gave us, one clear trend discovered was that despite many European destinations being among the hardest hit locations – with Italy, in particular, becoming the media’s morbid face of the crisis for many weeks- it’s in fact European buyers that have seen some of the biggest increments of recovery since the pandemic began.

Notably, 64% of buyers from Europe have reported that they have received bookings since March. Even more astonishing is how soon these bookings are set to take place, with European buyers stating that half of their bookings are set to happen within 3 months. Furthermore, across the entire study, it was European buyers that had the highest number of regional flights booked at 37%.

Of those European buyers with bookings, the top 5 destinations booked were Greece, Spain, France, Italy and the Maldives and the most popular trip category was beach escapes at 73%. Not only are travellers returning to travelling quicker than anticipated, but also back to core destinations that were not long ago being deemed ‘hot spots’ of the pandemic. This is particularly welcome news for the many European destinations that rely heavily on tourism who will be hoping for a quick uptick in international visitors as the next step on the road to rebuilding their business.

Furthermore, when European buyers were asked to pinpoint when they expected the luxury travel industry to recover, 51% estimated it would only take a year, with 37% estimating up to two years.

The possible reasons for the growing sense of recovery are interesting. The ability to travel regionally across European destinations is undoubtedly one of the biggest factors. Unsurprisingly, another key factor affecting people’s travel plans are safety concerns, with 64% of all buyers who are yet to take a booking citing this as the core obstacle for clients travelling. However, the more practical issue of quarantine rules was also highlighted and 68% of European buyers without bookings noted it as the key reason clients were reluctant to book.

This emphasis on the obstacles faced by European clients being mainly practical in nature is promising in two ways. Firstly, it shows that a significant number of people wish to travel despite the crisis and that travel will rebound strongly once restrictions are lifted. Put simply, the pandemic has not changed what we’ve heard said numerous times: people will always want to travel. Secondly, practical barriers are much easier to address than shifts in behavioural attitudes and fears.

Significantly, as of the 10th July 2020, Europe and the UK announced the launch of numerous air bridges to key locations – many of which without the need for a 14-day quarantine upon returning. While not all the locations on this worldwide list of 73 are practising reciprocal agreements, it has allowed the floodgates for much-needed tourism to open and to date, there seems to be little reluctance to take this new opportunity.

Considering the swift return to regional travel by a significant number of HNW European travellers – based upon our buyer research, coupled with the increasing number of restrictions on travel being lifted – it’s entirely feasible that this trend will grow. Moreover, this is happening beyond just European travellers, with many other key demographics also showing signs of recovery and renewed confidence.

While life as we know it will come back, there will patently be some key changes and new facets to the way we book travel. Questions of brand loyalty, the reassurance travellers seek, and the elevation of travel advisors will all be shifted and perhaps reborn. ILTM will be looking at these aspects in more detail next week, but for now, the key take away seems to be that travel is a fundamental human desire and this industry continues to weather the storm.

We very much look forward to the very first face-to-face event in the industry calendar for 2020, ILTM in Cannes.

ILTM Data Reveals Key Global Insights

ILTM Data Reveals Key Global Insights

For a period of more than 100 days, travel professionals around the world have been striving to make sense of the ever-changing global conversation surrounding COVID-19.

ILTM has no crystal ball, but whilst we can’t predict the future, our unique and close ties with buyers from around the globe gives us the next best thing: insight and data.

Throughout this crisis, buyers, armed with industry experience and knowledge of past sector upheavals, have been talking to their clients constantly. Keen to tap into this unrivalled knowledge source, ILTM created the 2020 Buyer Research Survey and want to share with you the optimistic, yet realistic, findings therein.

Current Booking Behaviours

The ILTM Buyer Research Survey ran between the 4th-18th June 2020 and went out to over 4,000 buyers from shows within the ILTM Collection, including Cannes, North America, Asia Pacific, China and Africa. The response was overwhelming and comprised of a majority of buyers in senior positions as private travel designers (35%) or within retail travel agencies (34%), among many others.

The crux of this research was to establish a number of core elements. Firstly, ILTM were keen to gather insight into the current needs and behaviours of the globe’s wealthy travellers. Additionally, we wanted to establish any fundamental barriers when it came to the idea of travelling again, and the changes in travel preferences that may be a side-effect of this. To that aim, one of our pivotal questions was determining the current demand for travel during this pandemic. Somewhat surprisingly, the volume of bookings buyers had received since the start of the outbreak was not as bleak as perhaps feared. It was found that 6 out of 10 buyers (64%) have received bookings since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, a result that was most prevalent in the Americas, Russia and Europe.

However, these figures don’t imply that those who are travelling are jumping in with both feet just yet. Of those clients willing to travel by air, for example, the majority (39%) are travelling domestically with 27% taking long-haul flights. Whilst this still represents a huge hit to revenues, it is certainly a step in the right direction and becomes increasingly positive when we apply time frames to when these bookings will take place.

flights and length of time for bookings

Notably, it was revealed that just over half of the bookings made (52%) are taking place in less than 3 months’ time. The next increment of which at 39% are occurring in 3 to less than 6 months’ time. Despite the ongoing uncertainty and a reluctance of many to travel internationally as of yet, this swift return to travelling at all is undoubtedly a relief and it is not the only sign of latent demand that the industry is displaying.

Popular Destinations And Shifting Travel Preferences Among HNWI

When looking at the destinations chosen by clients, these too show a slow return to some key areas. European travellers, for example, are especially confident, with locations such as Greece, France, Spain, Italy and the Maldives all being among the booked choices.

For clients of APAC buyers, Australia, China, New Zealand, Europe and Africa were the top picks. When we consider the type of getaways that are being booked, the data continues to show some clear themes, with beach escape holidays being the overall most common type at almost 70% across all buyer regions save for APAC, possibly due to them having this type of landscape readily available domestically. Unsurprisingly too, family holidays were the second most prominent type of trip being booked at 55% and private villa trips were next in line in this data set at 42%. In light of the lockdown and the separation from family that we have had to endure, the surge in family bookings shows the key role that our industry will play in bringing loved ones back together.

Of course, what’s important to note here is that despite travel being a complicated business right now, we are not seeing a big impact on the desire to travel and this is supported time and again by the buyer research.  As we’ve seen, clients are still willing and wanting to fly, with even a significant number willing to travel long-haul. For those who are still uneasy though, the response has for the most part not been to halt travel but to instead adapt and in many cases move to more private means. Of those buyers who have had bookings since the start of the pandemic, it was reported that 59% of clients were considering cars as an alternative mode of transport. It was also found that across the ILTM collection of buyers, those with bookings also reported that 22% of clients were considering other forms of travel which included private options such as jets, planes and yachts among others.

The Barriers To Travel And The Return Of Bookings

To further analyse these behaviours, we asked buyers to outline what they felt were the key barriers for clients to overcome in terms of travelling and unsurprisingly, health concerns and quarantine rules emerged equally at 64% as being the core reasons that many clients felt unable or unwilling to travel.

why are clients not booking yet?

In spite of the barriers highlighted by buyers being seemingly hard to navigate or influence, the general optimism from buyers, even those who had not yet received any bookings, was significant. For example, when buyers who had yet to receive any bookings were asked to make an educated estimation on when they expect their clients to start travelling again, a huge 72% anticipate a climb in bookings in 3-9 months. When this data is drilled-down into, and reflective of the overall numbers, Asia Pacific buyers are split between thinking this change will be between 3-6 months and 6-9 months, whereas half of the European buyers are certain bookings will have an upsurge in 3-6 months.

expectation of when clients will travel again

By comparison, buyers from the Middle East are predicting things to happen much sooner, with 42% foreseeing more bookings in less than 3 months. Interestingly, 40% of North American buyers who have not had bookings are estimating a 6-9 month window for increased bookings despite North American buyers as a whole being graced with the most number of bookings in total.

These relatively short-term turnaround estimations reveal a confidence that the industry couldn’t imagine back in March. In a similar vein, when asked to estimate just when they thought the luxury travel industry would be able to rebuild there was overwhelming positivity. 50% of buyers from all of the ILTM Collection shows expected the luxury travel industry to return within a year. A further 38% expect this recovery to take up to two years, with Chinese buyers the most likely to state the longer time frame. European buyers, in particular, revealed a high confidence level at 51% predicting a sub-two-year time frame.

What the Industry Needs and the Journey Ahead

All of this culminates in something ILTM have firmly believed throughout: even in what can feel like the darkest hour for the luxury travel industry, buyers from across the entire ILTM Collection are telling us that while bookings have slowed and are less profitable, the fundamental desire to travel has not. Travellers are not only booking trips amid the ongoing crisis (52% within the next 3 months), but over 50% of buyers are also confident that the luxury travel industry will have returned within a year.

Of course, this is a global view and therefore the results don’t always account for the distinct and often stark regional differences that we are all still experiencing. Many of our colleagues and clients are operating within regions that do not yet feel the light at the end of the tunnel. But, with our flagship event ILTM in Cannes on the horizon in 6 months’ time, it seemed more important than ever to release these figures to meet the clear demand and desire of buyers and their clients the world over.

With the right set of circumstances ahead of us, we now believe it will be possible to deliver the show that the industry needs at the time the industry needs it this coming December.

As one buyer put it: “I am honestly hoping (and other partners I talked to feel the same) that ILTM in Cannes will happen as it is one of the most important places to meet with partners. We are very keen to have the possibility to connect and meet in person again after such a long time”.—2019 ILTM Cannes Buyer, Europe

ILTM Cannes will be the key to kick-starting that travel come December and for that reason, we are delighted to be beginning the journey towards our 2020 event. Our hope for Cannes 2020 is not only that it meets the ever-growing demand but also provides some much-needed respite to what has been a tough year. You will be hearing from us again very soon.

The ILTM team look forward to seeing you there.