Posts by: ILTM

ILTM is a portfolio of global, regional and specialist luxury travel events. Alongside the global flagship event in Cannes, ILTM has three core international events in the Asia Pacific and Americas regions and two specialist events; ILTM Japan and ILTM Africa.

How to land a dream project like The Ned

How to land a dream project like The Ned

London’s most eagerly awaited opening is here. Standing opposite the Bank of England in London’s financial heartland is The Ned, an alliance between Nick Jones, owner of Soho House, the Sydell Group (NoMad, The Line and Freehand) and Ron Burkle, the billionaire investor who introduced the two.  A genre-defying hybrid of businesses, The Ned is luxury’s latest high-concept hang out. If it didn’t pop-up in your Instagram feed during the soft-opening in April, where were you? The Ned opened for bookings this week and Managing Director, Gareth Banner, is excited. We asked him how he got to lead such a dream project and what he has learnt along the way.

My previous role to this was GM at St Pancras Renaissance, which is a very good example of a large hotel group, but I’ve found where I am most comfortable and that’s in the independent sector. I get a lot of opportunity and freedom to deploy my own creativity, and the success or the failure of what we do is down to the people in my team, rather than the big brand sitting behind us pushing us along. For me, The Ned will be the best example of that; if The Ned is a success or a failure, I will feel extremely proud or extremely disappointed in myself, and I know it will be down to the people I’ve been working with to deliver.

Arguably, what we are trying to achieve has never been done before, so this is a whole new ball game and it does put you in a whole new place, thinking about how you launch a hotel with 9 restaurants, or 3 floors of spa, beauty, grooming and fitness. It shouldn’t be viewed as a hotel, which is what I’m sometimes guilty of; it’s actually 4 or 5 really serious stand-alone businesses. Food and beverage revenue will be more than room revenue in this property, so it’s a completely different perspective.

The most valuable thing I’ve learnt on this project is to constantly challenge whether or not what you believe you are going to deliver is relevant, and whether or not you need to push the boundaries more. The only way The Ned is going to be successful is if it is truly relevant and appropriate for what is current today. So for example, 5 years ago when the project was conceived, one of the restaurants was essentially a sushi restaurant. Today sushi is everywhere. We made a decision in the last 6 months that, after 4.5 years of working towards opening a sushi restaurant, we needed to change our mind and re-concept that restaurant.

We understand that relationships are everything, we cannot rely purely on the likes of the OTAs to drive business through our front door, we want to have really solid relationships with both corporate and leisure agents that understand and can represent us with their clients and understand what we have created here, it’s really, really important that I can have advocates globally that have a relationship with us, that trust us, and that have an opportunity to experience us so they can go away and drive the business into the hotel that we need for it to be successful.

The biggest challenge in building our network is starting from zero. You know, 12 months ago no one had heard of The Ned, so we are establishing a brand and a business absolutely from scratch. Whilst we come from really good stock, The Ned is not a chain so the education process isn’t immediate. Story telling is a big thing that we’re doing a lot at The Ned, and it gives you identity, it gives you a reason to create loyalty, and it rewards customers for being loyal to you.

As far as what makes me happiest I’m hoping that the best is yet to come. I really am extremely excited about this project and I know that this is a once in a career opportunity. I don’t know if I’d have the energy, or the opportunity to do this again, but this is something that genuinely gets me out of bed in the morning with a big smile on my face –  and a little bit of anxiety along the way, I won’t lie –  but I’ve always left a business in better shape than I found it and I’ve always made a point of saying that that is the benchmark for me to feel confident to move onto something bigger or better or different, I’ve always set myself very clear goals and that is what I attribute my success to, and those are my principles that I think I will take with me for the rest of my career.

After its debut at ILTM in Cannes in 2016, more ILTM travel advisors will be able to book appointments with The Ned at this year’s event.

Bain & Co Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, Fall-Winter 2016

Bain & Co Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, Fall-Winter 2016

The 15th edition of the Bain Luxury Study, published annually by Bain & Company, underlined in statistics what we've all known for some time; we are in the middle of a shift in luxury spending away from luxury goods and toward luxury experiences, such as travel and gastronomy. Indeed, the travel sector grew faster than luxury goods by at least 5 percentage points last year. 

Read the article here  

The Luxury Futures Report by The Future Laboratory, posits that much of this change is being driven by demographic shift,"Baby Boomers have been the dominant force in luxury consumption, but by 2025, 85% of luxury spending will be in the hands of Generations X, Y and Z. This demonstrates a consolidation of power and influence among those under the age of 52 who have very different priorities to their older counterparts. Younger Millennials and Generation Z – what we refer to as Generation D, or Generation Digital – demonstrate attitudes that are in some ways incompatible with the current articulation around luxury."

We asked some of our favourite luxury brand managers for their View on the redirection of luxury spending worldwide, and how established brands can meet the challenge of appealing to these younger consumers without alienating their traditional core.

News Views

Analyst's  View

"Younger Millennials do not hold the old codes of luxury close to their heart, and switch off when brands identify themselves too strongly as a heritage brand, or create campaigns about the craft-based, artisanal nature of a product. For them what status and luxury means has shifted. Old signifiers do not necessarily mean anything anymore. Gucci is a good example of a heritage luxury brand successfully transforming into a brand loved by younger consumers. Its approach is now playful, experimental and painfully on trend. Take its Instagram campaign using memes, which successfully tapped into the younger generation’s appetite for net culture. This shift is also perfectly encapsulated in the Louis Vuitton collaboration with skate brand Supreme on its AW17 menswear collection. Streetwear is inspiring luxury, whereas luxury used to inspire high street trends. Both brands have embraced audiences who would traditionally be considered outside the luxury industry, and who wouldn’t be the perfect luxury consumer. They understand that the luxury consumer is now a multifaceted being – one might be into skateboarding, while another might be into art."

 PR View

"Nowadays people don’t buy because they can’t do it themselves, they buy because they don’t have time or don’t want to do the task. Millennials will pay good money for a personal trainer or a private chef, so why not a travel advisor? Would you attempt to cut your own hair? NO! There has been a shift in mind-set to ‘why would I do it myself if someone will do it so much better than me?’, so, as an industry, we need to communicate the value of the experience travel advisors bring to the equation and that it doesn’t necessarily come with an extra cost."


"As the younger generation arrives into adulthood, the luxury sector will continue to search for new opportunities for growth using strategies that emphasize the transformative qualities of new experiences. The great digitization of everything rolls on at pace, and the world is looking to travel to provide the antidote. For this reason, the migration of spending from goods that gave status, to experiences that give peace of mind will keep gathering speed. Great news for our industry and even better news for the people who have been so passionately trying to explain this for years!"

Exhibitor View

"The new generation of luxury consumer is more international and curious in spirit. This interest in global cultures has shifted their understanding of luxury, which has at once become less formal, more inviting, and more of an immersion into a destination. They are seeking out a genuine discovery, which naturally inspires a desire to travel and to delve into locations across the world. Luxury hotels have evolved with time to celebrate these different preferences and attitudes, and have become more malleable in their experiences so that each guest can enjoy a truly personalized stay. For The Set it is as much about fusing the rich legacy of our properties with modern design touches, remarkable experiences, and unmatched service, as it is about successfully creating a luxury experience in the some of the worlds’ most sought after cultural destinations. We need to create environments where both younger consumers and our more longstanding guests will continue to want to return, which is a true hallmark of success in hospitality."

Influencer View

"Classic techniques such as sponsorships and partnerships have to be re-examined. Creating the right partnerships and joint ventures allows you to scale. Anything is possible when the right people work together in the right ways, and your business will adopt the characteristics of the people and organisations you partner with. Partnerships don’t need to be with corporations, but instead, real human beings. By harnessing people who love your brand, and encouraging or incentivising them to share their opinions online, you’ll provide a source of authentic information that millennials and generation Z are likelier to trust."

Have money, will travel: More and more wealthy Indians explore the world

Have money, will travel: More and more wealthy Indians explore the world

India is on the move. While China remains the largest market in Asia, 9 out of 10 Indian respondents in the Experiencing Luxury - The Asian Traveler in 2016 report said they expected to spend more on luxury in the next year, giving India the highest likelihood of growth of all the nations surveyed. In fact, according to this article we read in The National, India’s luxury travel market has a projected annual growth rate of 12.8 per cent between 2015 and 2025.

Read the article here  

We asked some of our trusty Indian travel advisors their View. 

News Views

Buyer View

"Indians are travelling and from all segments of society. It's no more a luxury which can be experienced only by the elite class, everyone is travelling now and the seasoned travellers are moving upwards to the next level of luxury, both in terms of wealth, affordability and in the maturing mind-set in the way they take holidays.

Even under luxury segment in India, we have bifurcations, wherein the nouveau rich have different travel patterns, preferences, expectations and needs. The traditionally wealthy luxury traveller has moved towards a need for seeking experience-based travel, wherein luxury is all about time and space, intrinsic and deeper, life transforming experiences and not just creature comforts (which is a priority for the nouveau rich). Some of these experiences are very expensive due to their exclusivity, remoteness etc. but the discerning HNWIs are able to see value wherein the spend is treated, not as an expense or cost, but an investment or means to life fulfilling enrichment through travel.

The majority of HNWIs in India are exploring established destinations, products, experiences, using known global brands for Hotels, Resorts, Cruises. But a growing segment has moved to next level of indulgence travelling everywhere from Polar Regions to South Americas, Latin America, Indo-China, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Baltic States, Northern Europe and Arctic, Deeper into Africa exploring Botswana, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, and South Pacific."

Exhibitor View

"Beverly Hills considers the Indian market an emerging, newly sought-after destination that warrants an effective tourism and educational strategy.  We retain representation for our trade and communications efforts and conduct in-market visits as often as time and budget allows. During our visits, we combine sales calls with destination driven events that help us update our current contacts and secure new introductions.  Over the last five years, we have seen an increase in the amount of visitors coming from this region and continue to work with our luxury hotels and restaurant partners to ensure that cultural and service expectations are consistently met."

Buyer View

"Travel has overtaken many tangible investment avenues, and an increasing number of my Indian clients are now investing more in experiential travel than in other luxury lifestyle product. HNWI's in India are attaching more value to experiences when they travel, some even for bragging rights. Of course Luxury Hotels, Michelin Star dining options, luxury shopping experiences & sight seeing opportunities are always a given with them. 

Its not just Hollywood & Beverly Hills that attracts HNWI's to LA, but also Santa Monica & Malibu. A lot of them come for the Universities where they have their children studying, some for their fancy for Broadway-like shows, each one has their own draw.

Realizing the spending power & disposal income levels of Indians, the biggest Marques in the Luxury lifestyle goods segment are queuing to open their outlets all over India, so practically everything that one may want to own is pretty much available in India. Having said that, luxury shopping has and always will be on every Indian's holiday agenda. One has to appreciate that overseas shopping has been made into an experience in itself by a lot of lifestyle brands, you have personal shopping assistants, exclusive previews & shopping hours, limited edition items and of course the very latest inventory & personalisation possibilities."


"The research conducted for ILTM by Agility Research, ahead of ILTM Asia 2016, clearly shows a notable increase in optimism for the coming 12 months among Indian travellers, with 9 in 10 saying they expect to travel more. Surveys on the purchasing behaviour of over 300 HNWI's revealed some notable implications for brands operating in this market, namely, Indian's want superior quality from luxury products and services, so you need to be able to show them that your offer is of a genuinely superior standard. They also want plenty of opportunity to buy luxury products, which continues to be a key feature of Indian itineraries" 

REPORT: The Great Rebranding of an Industry

REPORT: The Great Rebranding of an Industry

As it moves further into the new millennia, the luxury travel industry finds itself facing major challenges. The days of every average Joe calling up their travel advisor each time they needed to book a flight have come and gone, and today’s travellers are smarter, more demanding, and more empowered. But as vacationers became adventurers, this did not signal the end of the travel advisor as we knew them, rather we find ourselves at the start of an exciting new era.

Bright Young Things is an event series for smart young agents in London and New York. Facilitated by ILTM’s range of experts, 40+ up and coming young travel advisors are asked the following questions:

  1. How do we dispel the myths about luxury travel agents in order to convince a generation of people who are used to booking travel at the click of a button?
  2. How do we authentically showcase that only luxury travel experts can provide the insider, transformative experiences of a lifetime?
  3. How do we increase awareness of our expertise, on-the-ground experience, hard-fought skills and customized services in order to come together to win back market share?

The answers they gave are collected here in this special report; Bright Young Things – The Great Rebranding of an Industry. Download now to discover the simple steps we can take together as a community to stay relevant in this ever-changing industry. As in life, sometimes all it takes is a face-lift and a new outlook!


Strong potential for luxury travel in sub-Saharan Africa

Strong potential for luxury travel in sub-Saharan Africa

From the US presidency, to Brexit, to continued security threats and political upheaval, the world is a more complex and challenging place today than it was this time last year. Just two years ago, few would’ve believed we’d be talking about Africa’s emergence as a safe haven for global travellers, yet across the continent, a combination of factors is leading to reports of double digit growth.  Available data for Africa points to an 8% rebound in inbound tourism in 2016, adding 4 million arrivals to reach 58 million overall. Sub-Saharan Africa led the growth at 11%, easily outstripping inbound growth figures of the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Adding to the good news, luxury travel markets throughout the continent are experiencing uplift as the surge in demand for 'transformative travel' experiences continues to propel Africa into the global spotlight. The Deloitte Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2016 report predicts air traffic will double over the next 15 years, driven largely by an increase in travellers from emerging markets. Crucially, these travellers are much younger than travellers from developed market countries and a report we read this week believes these two factors represent a huge opportunity for African luxury.

Read the article here  

Is transformational travel the trend Africa has been waiting for? Time to get a View...

News Views

Exhibitor View

"At the moment, Chinese millennials do not make up a significant portion of our market. However, I have recently been on a marketing trip to Asia and it became evident to me that there is a whole market that has not been fully tapped. There is a rise in the medium and upper class in Asia, and they are becoming more interested in different destinations. My observation is that people in these countries are very keen to travel and adventure to unique places, in fact we have seen an upsurge of enquiries from that market just from my initial trip, because of the media exposure and the few partners we are working with there. That being said, the Asian market is more discerning than traditional markets, which could be challenging. There are many luxury destinations in Asia which are quite affordable for the average income and with the technology and level of service that is available on that side of the world, their expectations will be high."

Buyer View

"Certainly there is an increase in travellers requesting Africa, this is for a few reasons. First, people need adventure in their trips nowadays and Africa meets that need perfectly. Safaris are a perfect gateway for a family of all ages to be together, whether grandparents or children. Namibia and Botswana are the top ones. Secondly, there’s a perception that Europe, Egypt etc. might not be completely safe to travel, which also opens an additional door to Africa. The type of traveller going to Africa are the wealthy Chinese group travellers – doctors, lawyers, investors, aged from 40 to 70. There is also increased demand from honeymooners. Certainly not millennials, considering travellers from Hong Kong. Biggest reason is time - Safari trips are always 11 to 15 nights long and Hong Kong’s millennials can only gateway for hardly 5 to 7 nights. Besides, millennials are more explorers than to be focusing only on prime luxury, which Africa focuses on. Based on experience, I would say ratio of wealthy Chinese with age group of 50 and above has been much higher."

Buyer View

"I have found that in the last 2 years interest in Africa peaked within my clientele, especially South-Africa, Botswana and Ethiopia, but in my experience the interest has come from my traditional luxury clientele: more in the 40 – 60 years old category and often as family holidays. In my opinion, the above generation is very aware of the importance of quality time with family while on holiday, introducing children to different cultures & social awareness. Volunteering is often part of the plan. The general feeling of terrorism on many traditional tourist areas in the world perhaps “pushed” Africa forward on the bucket list but the simplification of visas in certain countries in the last few years certainly helped, and I noticed an increase in corporate and incentive travel that then is being extended as personal vacation. The exchange rate of the Rand has also been helpful and the FIFA World cup in 2014 brought more awareness."


"The Asia outbound luxury market continues to grow, especially in China where the rich are getting richer and there are more and more of them. Coupled with the gradual maturing of the travel market in the region, we are seeing many more non-traditional destinations for Chinese travellers starting to include the Chinese in their strategies for next year. Europe will always be big, but Iceland, Sri Lanka and Thailand are now seeing huge growth also."

Buyer View

"We're most interested in Europe, luxury islands and adventurous places, above all, we're always intrigued by companies who have unique businesses or resources. Our target customers are looking for really unique experiences when travelling abroad, luxury hotels with special features - edgy design, unique location, distinctive activities - are the most attractive ones to us."

10 things you need to know about virtual reality

10 things you need to know about virtual reality

Virtual Reality is getting a load of air time and as with any new technology, there’s a lot of confusion as to what it is and how best to use it. At ILTM, we have teamed up with Everywherebrand, our creative partners, who have been pioneering this for some while and picked their brains on everything you might want to ask.

Download our Guide to VR now to find out…

  1. What is it?
  2. How can i watch it?
  3. Why should i be interested?
  4. How and where do i start?
  5. Who else is doing it?

We will be launching a Pilot offer in the next few months to allow you to share the technology more widely at each ILTM event around the globe. We will be creating a beautiful virtual lounge to view your content in a perfectly
controlled environment.

To express your interest in VR broadcasting sponsorship opportunities at ILTM shows contact for more information.

Video: People of ILTM – Caroline Goux

Video: People of ILTM – Caroline Goux

There is one thing that every happy luxury travel professional knows; just be yourself you will connect with people. That is a fact that successful people understand very well, and Caroline Goux of Oetker Collection is a great example of this philosophy. As VP of Sales, Caroline is a masterful business woman and inspirational networker, she’s also one of the most genuine people in the industry. If you’re looking for some great advice on how to get to the top in this business, this is the person to give it.

For more advice on how to make it in travel, check out the other videos in this series on ILTM’s YouTube page.

How your competitors are winning in Asia

How your competitors are winning in Asia

The world’s fastest growing market and a glittering, gold-rush of a business opportunity for luxury travel pros. But your targets are sky high and your marketing budget can feel like a drop in the ocean? You’re not alone. We spoke to some of our exhibitors at ILTM 2016 to find out how they tackle the challenges of building a strategy for growth in Asia. 

Meet the highest caliber of buyers from 8 regions across Asia at the next editions of ILTM Asia, which takes place in Shanghai, June 5th-8th 2017. To find out more about consumer behaviour in all 8 source markets, click here.

Report: The Asian Luxury Traveller 2016

Report: The Asian Luxury Traveller 2016

Most large consumer-facing companies realise that they will need China to power their growth in the next decade. But to keep pace, these companies will also need to understand the economic, societal, and demographic changes shaping the profiles of consumers and the way they spend. This is no easy task, not only because of the fast pace of growth and subsequent changes in the Chinese way of life, but also because of the vast economic and demographic differences across the country.

Experiencing Luxury – The Asian Traveler in 2016 is an Agility Research report created for and released at ILTM Asia 2016. Focusing on the behavioural patterns of luxury travellers from 8 Asian markets; China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, the report explores the outlook for luxury travel in 2016, what shores the Asian luxury travellers are heading for, and what’s on the top of their wishlist.

The research looks at…

  1. Travel frequency
  2. Wallet share by category
  3. Preferred destinations
  4. Preferred travel experiences
  5. Motivations behind destination choice
  6. Favourite airlines, hotels and cruise lines

So for a comprehensive profile of these lucrative consumers, how they book their travel, what media are influential in the process, and their path to purchase, download the report now.

Top 5 luxury travel buyers in China

Top 5 luxury travel buyers in China

If you want to reach China’s super rich, you’ll need to build relationships with the travel agents that represent them.

For the past 10 years, ILTM Asia has been doing just that. These 5 influencers are among the agents we are requested to introduce more than any other. They regularly place business of millions of dollars each year, and have proven loyal networks among China’s emergent luxury class.

If you want to know who is the best in the business in China, read on. And if you want to be introduced, join us at ILTM Asia 2017!

Chang Song (Tony) Liu, Managing Director, Deluxe Mice Tour

Deluxe Mice Tour & Luxury Travel is a company working at the highest end of the luxury market in China. Dealing with affluent Chinese travellers from across the whole of China, Deluxe leverages its B2B incentives business in the private banking sector and extends family travel services to the same clients. As a result, they have a huge market share, one of the most impressive client lists in the whole of China, and Tony is consistently one of the buyers that receive the most requests at ILTM Asia.

Alona Yang, Executive Director, 7 Sea Travel

7 Sea Travel is among the top high-end travel advisory companies in China. It’s widely recognized WeChat platform is something of a revelation, being one of the leading luxury travel and life style content sites in the sector. Equally at home creating your content strategy as delivering it, 7 Sea are an industrious and talented bunch and are richly rewarded with strategic alliances with world-renowned travel partners, organizations and governmental authorities. Most importantly, the quality of their content gets operators into the hands of well-selected HNWIs.

“We select the companies according to certain standards and match that with the company’s profile. We’re most interested in Europe, luxury islands and adventurous places, above all, we’re always intrigued by companies who have unique businesses or resources. Our target customers are looking for really unique experiences when travelling abroad, luxury hotels with special features – edgy design, unique location, distinctive activities – are the most attractive ones to us.”

Jizhong Zhou, CEO, 8 Continents Travel

8 Continents Travel is one of the most influential high-end tour operators in China. Founded in January 2012, the company is headquartered in Shanghai, with branches in Beijing and Chengdu. As the name suggests, they offer packages all over the world. Their main focus is honeymooners and families.

“How do we select the companies we meet at ILTM in Asia? First of all, it depends on what we think our market needs in the next season. We study the supply list very carefully, select our preferred supplier very carefully, check their brief and website one by one to make sure we have right choices, then we contact them right way to introduce ourselves and express our interest to ensure we will successfully match an appointment in ILTM.”

Yun (Benny) Wang, China Head of New Product Development, CITS

Leading a team of 40 in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou; Benny and his team are responsible for choosing the high-end concierge leisure travel products for American Express business travellers on their personal trips (and also the only team to serve the premier lifestyle card, TLS, in China). Since its partnership with American Express began in 2002,  CITS have amassed more than 300 fortune 500 business accounts and a staff of over 800 people.

Joshua Chiang, Business Development Manager, Quintessentially Lifestyle

Quintessentially Travel is the sister company of Quintessentially, one of the world’s leading members-only Lifestyle Management and Concierge Clubs, and Joshua Chiang sources its partnerships in the region, from dining and retail to spa, nightlife, trains, cruises and hotels. No wonder he is on the top five most requested travel buyers at ILTM Asia.

ILTM Asia takes place in Shanghai beginning on June 5th 2017. Booking your spot is easy, to find out more click here.


How to be the best tour operator in the world

How to be the best tour operator in the world

Canada based tour operator Gray & Co is celebrating. And who can blame them?  They were voted no.1 tour operator in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2016, capping an extraordinary year for the cycling and hiking specialists. Talking to travel manager, Sylvia Pasqualettie, it’s easy to see why their scrupulously researched trips are making waves.  I asked Sylvia what it takes to be the best.

I am from the North of Italy, near Venice? The Prosecco area.  I am 39 years old. When my daughter was very little I studied for a degree in marketing and worked at an outdoor clothing company. It was very small so I could put my hands everywhere and I loved that. After that I quit my job and got my Masters in coaching. My speciality is sports – not the physical but the mental – everything related to the performance and how to overcome emotions.

I got into guiding by chance, my best friend started working for Butterfield & Robinson and at that time I was doing my training and coaching stuff but I was too relaxed. I always wanted to travel and she was like, “why don’t you apply?” and that’s what I did, I applied. The same friend gave me the contact of Cari Gray, they were putting a trip together in Sicily, it was a last minute thing and she needed a guide and I went, that was in 2011!

Guides have a big ego. As a guide, you are in charge of everything so you want to shine and you want to show the best things about a place and make people happy, so you have to have a big ego, you can’t be shy.  It’s not about being arrogant; it’s being willing to do things for others, willing to make them happy. The best satisfaction for us is to see that everything went well and the people are extremely happy, that’s what matters.

The most challenging thing for new operators is that normally people like me are freelance so they are, sort of entrepreneurs. They do what they know. Their biggest difficulty is to scale-up and become a company. I see a lot of guides that have loads of experience and they just say hey, why don’t I start doing my own thing, that’s normal right? I have a lot of friends that have done that and they do a very limited part of what they could do, because they don’t know how to shift from an entrepreneurial mentality to managing a business. It’s very difficult for them to make that step because, as guides, we are very used to being in control. We want to make sure that everything works and so delegating and letting other people have the space to grow to do things? That’s the hardest part.

To choose our partners we focus on food, the hotels, the environment, and what you can find outside of the cycling. It’s a whole combination of different things. In Australia we find a lot of these kinds of combinations. Margaret River, from Perth down is amazing. Also 2/3 hours North West of Melbourne there is a great cycling community, good restaurants and the right accommodation. For the levels that we provide, we need great accommodation and food to support the North American standards.

The best thing about this job is being in contact with so many incredible people. You know, there is a reason why they are extremely successful and that’s a great part of the job for us, that we are in touch with these sorts of people. Recently a client asked me, do you live every day of your life to the fullest? You can do better, everybody can always do better, right? But it came from a person that I know lives their life to the fullest every day and so that it sticks in my mind most of all.

Grey & Co are regular attendees of ILTM in Cannes.


Video: People of ILTM Asia 2016 – Jeffrey Sirota

Video: People of ILTM Asia 2016 – Jeffrey Sirota

At ILTM we love connecting people and sharing their stories. In this video series, created at ILTM Asia 2016, we introduce you to some of the brightest and best in luxury travel. Here’s Jeffrey Sirota of Small Luxury Hotels of the World on the best piece of advice he’s ever been given.

For more advice on how to make it in travel, check out the other videos in this series on ILTM’s YouTube page.

The ILTM guide to the perfect working relationship

The ILTM guide to the perfect working relationship

Have you seen them? The agent and operator who’ve been working together for years, the ones with the best rates, whose clients are treated like royalty?

I’ve seen variations of this relationship many times over at ILTM and often wondered what the secret is. Strong relationships are the happiest but they are also the most resilient when dealing with the inevitable difficult times. And like our own personal relationships, it can be really tough and stressful when you’re having problems understanding one another.

So, what are the essentials of a solid, happy, healthy buyer / supplier relationship? And how do successful ‘couples’ manage to maintain and strengthen their relationships over time? ILTM exhibitors and buyers reveal their top tips for long lasting luxury love and some common mistakes made by both sides…

Roger Kershaw, Custom Travel Inc

Start with a clear understanding of your partner’s parameters – that is, know in advance if there will be commission and what the process is, what the cancel policy is, so there are no misunderstandings early in the relationship. A common frustration is a hotel or operator’s failing to understand that while the individual traveller is the guest, the travel agent is the client. Cultivating a guest’s loyalty is important, but recognize that a travel agent’s loyalty is manifold. When an amenity is placed in the room, for example, a nice note or gift from the general manager is nice, but recognition at the same time of the travel agent goes a large step beyond that: it shows class on the part of the hotel and reinforces the importance of the travel agent to the overall experience.

Caroline Goux, Oetker Collection

Never assume anything, never take the relationship for granted once it has been established, be truthful, be trustful, and ensure a prompt follow up. Don’t overpromise, over deliver. The most common mistake agents make is sending a VIP request note or special room allocation request 48 hours prior to arrival. Best practice would be to send a VIP request note at the time the booking is made. Most booking being made more than 15 days to a month prior to arrival, we then would have a greater flexibility in room allocation‎ enabling us to ensure they are allocated the right room, the right floor, the right view, etc. matching all their requirements and expectations.

Quentin Desurmont, Traveller Made

The most common mistake operators make when dealing with agents is giving us useless details about their property, I even heard from a member of staff in a luxury hotel: “we have a bathroom in all rooms, and we serve breakfast”. They should focus on five key differentiating points that agents can memorize as key selling points to their clients. As an agent, it is important to meet the supplier’s top manager in person and share great discussion.


Duncan Palmer, Marco Polo Hotels

My top tip for maintaining a good relationship with a luxury travel agent is give them the possibility that they can reach you when there’s last minute information, changes, or whenever they wish to check on the well-being of their clients. Adding a personalised touch by meeting guests or giving them a courtesy call when I’m off-property gives agents a higher degree of confidence that their clients are well taken care of and everything is in place.


Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, Valerie Wilson Travel

My top tip for maintaining a relationship is do not take me for granted. Help us build a lasting, trusting, and evolving long-term relationship. Get to know me, my company, my clients. A common mistake would be assuming we know what you, your brand and what your top 3 initiatives are. The world is a dynamically changing environment. Always re-solidify our partnerships. You need to repeat, repeat and repeat your concise message in multiple ways and channels.


Christina Deeney, Aman

Our top tip is very simple: build a relationship with the agent and take the time to meet with them in person, learn about them, their clients and what they are looking for. The next step would then be to invite them to experience our properties – it is so much easier to talk about and sell a product when you have had the opportunity to experience it yourself. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal, which is to ensure we have happy and satisfied clients who want to return to us and to the agent so it’s about working together as a team to ensure this happens. The more we know the better and more personalised we can make their experience.

Erina Pindar, Smart Flyer

As travel agents, we need to be able to show our value to the consumer beyond just our knowledge and expertise, which is why price parity is important. A hotel’s biggest mistake is to offer the same product for a lower price should the consumer go direct, it’s the easiest way to make agents feel like the property or brand do not value the relationship. For operators, it’s important to disclose if they sell direct to consumer and they need to disclose what that means for the agent.


Chrissie Lincoln, House Collective

A lasting and mutually beneficial relationship between a luxury travel agent and a hotelier needs to be based on trust and respect. I have always lived in the destinations I have worked in and therefore travel agents often ask me for destination advice as well as just advice on the hotel group I work for. Travel agents that I have long standing relationships with know that they can trust me for an honest opinion and that I will always help them match their client to the right experience, not just hard sell my own property.  When you have a transparent relationship with the agent, they feel comfortable asking your opinion, picking your brain for local knowledge and then working with you to not only plan the hotel stay, but to ensure their clients have access to insider local tips which will enhance their travel experience.

Matthew Upchurch, Virtuoso

The important qualities of a strong working relationship with a luxury operator are mutual respect and the acknowledgment of a common desire to fulfil the client’s needs. You aren’t doing a one-time transaction; you’re building a long-lasting relationship. Perhaps the operator can’t accommodate everything you want this time, or neither of you is going to make a large profit. What counts is that you are building a collaboration where you will both ultimately benefit by gaining a loyal client and by establishing a long-term partnership. I wouldn’t say it’s common, but the one mistake hotels and operators can make is to not be transparent with a travel advisor. If there’s a problem on your end, let the advisor know. When you act as a team, you can fix just about anything together. You look better, the advisor looks better and the client’s Return on Life experience may be even more spectacular than anticipated.

Kasra Esteghamat, Eden for Your World

John Oberacker and Kasra Esteghamat

The start should be easy, we start off on common ground. We’re all in this together, usually because we love to explore this world, and to be part of making people’s journeys memorable and the best they can be. To maintain a great relationship you need respect, which to me means responding to requests in a timely fashion and with correct information. Honesty, we all have expectations, and it’s vital that current conditions, issues, availability, and trends are understood by all parties. Passion, I think it’s vital that all our passion about the industry and about servicing our clients are evident. If we or the supplier is not feeling it, and excited about the product, it is difficult for us to feel the passion and to relay it to our clients. And finally, time. I do think it’s important that these relationships be nurtured.  Spending time to send and email, a quick hello at at , grabbing a coffee or having dinner together really solidifies the relationship.

For specific advice on how to connect with ILTM’s buyers and exhibitors, pick up the phone and speak to one of us today, on +44 (0)20 8271 2172.