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.

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.