Luxury Travel Trends: A Chat with ILTM Portfolio Director Alison Gilmore

Get a glimpse of the world’s most desirable destinations, luxurious accommodations, and unique experiences when you attend one of ILTM’s travel trade shows. Portfolio director Alison Gilmore shares more about what to expect at ILTM Asia Pacific, which will take place from May 21 to 24 in Singapore this year.

Photo: ILTM

How is luxury travel changing these days? What are some of the biggest trends you see developing in 2018?
Travel has long been shaped by its relationship to the natural world, from tracing ancient myths to capturing the ebb and flow of life across continents. But as luxury travel itineraries continue on a path from relaxation to edification by way of memorable experiences, travel designers are becoming increasingly aware of the challenges of the present. We are now seeing travelers question their own sets of values and looking for travel experiences that deliver simplicity, mindfulness, and transformation.

ILTM Asia is moving to Singapore while the Shanghai event will continue as a brand-new ILTM China. Could you tell us why that decision was made, and how the two travel fairs will be different?
In 2016, we conducted some specific research that revealed that there were some fundamental changes taking place in the way the industry views both China and the Asia Pacific. Both regions are growing so fast that the luxury travel industry is separating their current and future business plans, as well as marketing plans to focus on China and the Asia Pacific as two independent strategies and opportunities. Significantly, and in response to the continuing global demand for Japanese luxury travel experiences, ILTM Asia Pacific will now feature ILTM Japan, moving the planned event in Tokyo in February to join this expanded business forum in Singapore in May.

As a result, we decided to mirror these strategies and deliver exactly that, two dynamic events dedicated to their own audiences: ILTM Asia Pacific in Singapore, 21-24 May, welcoming luxury travel buyers and agents from 21 countries across the region and ILTM China in Shanghai, 31 October-2 November 2018, welcoming exclusively Chinese buyers.

What excites you most about bringing ILTM to Southeast Asia?
The fact that Singapore really is the region’s international hub. ILTM Asia Pacific will be influenced by this modern city that is so famous for its history, beauty, values, and traditions. Singapore really can deliver the best of mixing business with pleasure.

The venue will be Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore and Conrad Centennial Singapore, both only a few minutes away (even by the pedestrian bridge), will be the event’s partner hotels. Designed to feel like ILTM Cannes, THE event will feature a curated and relevant education programme. When it’s time to unwind and de-stress, Singapore simply has it all!

I am also very excited about bringing ILTM Japan to feature within ILTM Asia Pacific in response to the continuing global demand for Japanese luxury travel experiences. With over 600 handpicked luxury travel buyers in attendance, ILTM Asia Pacific is the perfect location for bringing Japan to the world.

Do you see specific areas of growth in the region?
In terms of increasing numbers of travelers from the region, we see significant numbers of travelers from Australia in the next year, particularly within the Asia Pacific. Travelers from Japan, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea will increase. Perhaps more in the longer term from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Globally speaking, could you name five destinations to watch this year?
1. Bangkok, Thailand: As the world’s most visited city in 2016, Bangkok has a dynamic culinary and art scene. Many new hotels will also open in the coming months, including the Waldorf Astoria, Bangkok Edition, and Four Seasons.
2. Ireland: The Emerald Isle has seen a rush of international visitors recently. If you haven’t yet made the trip, now’s the time to go.
3. Los Cabos, Mexico: They’ve got a fabulous food scene and even better beaches, not to mention a new crop of five-star resorts and restaurants coming in 2018.
4. Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen is teeming with inspiring places to eat and drink, in addition to a number of sleek new hotels including Hotel Sanders and the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.
5. Malta: It’s got 7000 years of history, some superb restaurants and is surrounded by some of the Mediterranean’s clearest blue waters.

What are some of the most memorable trips you’ve had in the past 12 months?
I love attending each and every ILTM event across the world because the destinations where they all take place are so different, which completely reflects the culture of each event too.

From ILTM North America in Riviera Maya in Mexico—which is our only event that actually takes place within a 5-star resort (Mayakoba), to the vibrant and cosmopolitan ILTM Latin America in Sao Paulo, and the distinctly sub-Saharan African vibe at ILTM Africa.  I’m delighted to be returning to ILTM China in Shanghai at the end of October—what a great city!

Any favorite hotels you can also recommend?
Too many to mention—I am very privileged.

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