As Asia advances and as formerly poverty-stricken countries find themselves at the forefront of global economic growth, the rise of luxury travel for an affluent elite has developed in tandem.
To tap into this growing pool of wealthy individuals, whose taste for high end travel and accommodation is driving the market upward, Reed Travel Exhibitions launched the Asian Luxury Travel Market in 2007. This second show and conference was substantially larger than the first, with over 400 hosted buyers in attendance (see box).
Jay Martens, event manager of ALTM, says: “ALTM 2008 was a resounding success. The three-day event was double the size of the 2007 inaugural edition with over 1,100 of the world’s top sellers and Asia Pacific’s top buyers of luxury travel attending by invitation only. Over 17,000 appointments were held over the three days of the event. During the show, ALTM was honoured with the prestigious Five Star Diamond Award by The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. On the final day of ALTM, the prestigious World Travel Awards held its inaugural Asia Pacific event in Shanghai, at which ALTM won Asia’s Leading Travel Exhibition.”
The buyers were mainly specialist agents and operators who focus on servicing the elite travellers, both as individuals and in some cases with high-end corporate groups enjoying premium incentives.
There was little argument about why Shanghai, the style centre of modern China, was chosen as the host destination.
Jay Martens, event manager of ALTM, says: “Shanghai epitomises the explosive growth and wealth of the Asia Pacific region – it has become a fashion and trend capital that contributes to making the show spectacular. Shanghai is one of the world’s most exciting cities and a true symbol of what luxury is in the 21st century.”
The event opened with a major conference at the Shanghai Centre Theatre, which is attached to the The Portman-Ritz Carlton, tackling some of the key and emerging trends in the luxury travel sector.
“China is fast becoming one of the largest economies in the world, with ALTM growing in its Shanghai home it has become apparent that China is the hot topic in the industry. While Serge Dive and Andrew Wu delivered fantastic presentations on the growth, transformation and future of China, more specifically the luxury travel industry, it was important to create focus groups that could assist in providing some much needed perspective. Panel One ‘China, a world’s capital for the luxury experience economy’ was made up of key players in the China luxury travel industry, discussing their experiences and knowledge of the past, present and future. Panel Two ‘How to manufacture your image of luxury in Asia Pacific?’ was made up of key journalists in the Asia Pacific region again advising the new players of the best way to promote themselves in the new market they are attacking,” says Martens.
Martens points to the huge amount of preparation.
“As ALTM is an annual event, planning only started in August 2007, where the main focus is to sell the floor space and recruit buyers. ALTM is made up of a one-day conference and a three-day exhibition, with the following programmes; Exhibitor, VIP Buyer, Media, Visitor and Sponsorship. Only six core staff work on ALTM in conjunction with various regional agents that assist with follow up, overcoming language barriers and so on.
“ALTM hosts a yearly roadshow to promote the event in Asia and this, coupled with the support of our media partners, promotes ALTM to the industry. The conference and evening parties are planned in the lead up to the show.
“ALTM works closely with Shanghai Exhibition Centre and the official contractors, Sidex, to literally build such a magnificent ‘stage’ for the event. The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai, Le Royal Meridien Shanghai and MV Destination Management tie up our VIP Buyer programme in Shanghai along with the support of Virtuoso,” he says.
Buyer feedback was highly positive.
Jay Tindall, co-founder and chief operating officer, Remote Lands – Thailand, says: “ALTM met and exceeded my expectations in every way. Not only was I able to meet with existing suppliers that we work with on a regular basis, but I was able to develop new business relationships around the region. It is very rare to have so many quality meetings in such a short period of time and I have already started to see the benefit from this.”
Tindall’s glowing assessment was shared by Narelle Bailey, director, Verve Events International from Australia.
“I found ALTM to be a huge success. I went to Shanghai with two group incentive programmes to be booked and came away with both of them set to sign up. I planned nearly the entire programme with excellent quality luxury travel suppliers. The showcase had a fantastic range of suppliers and destinations and I feel set to explore new destinations with confidence that they have the quality needed for my client programmes,” she says.