So here we have it, the Forum stage all ready for the opening session of International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Americas. Every luxury hotel worldwide that wants to entice valuable customers from Latin America should be here, says the gal – is it true one hotel sold a million dollars’ worth of hotel bookings to one travel agent alone? There are 230 agents here, by the way. The whole thing, organised by Reed Events, kicked off with a Forum, on a fabulous stage, set as here.
For two hours, some 550 pairs of legs – not all as elegant as these, by the way (Hope, can you recognise yourself?) – sat and listened to men in long trousers, and one pair of shorts, and two elegant women in skirts. Messages came out loud and clear. Brazilians and Mexicans, but also Chileans and even Venezuelans, are travelling as if there is no tomorrow. They travel in big family groups and they spend. They bring their children with them. The pair of shorts, a Millennial who works for a company called What If?, uttered a non-stop barrage of marketing words. The two skirts, travel agents both, had each brought a client with them, a friend for whom they do all travel arrangements. Frankly, why bother with doing it yourself online when you have professionals like this, the clients basically said.
After that, or rather the following day, the speed-dating started. For those lucky enough to be ignorant of this method of meeting potential business, let me explain. Here, hotels and ground handlers (DMCs) and private jets and rental-cars-with-trackers and so on have paid for a table, with two seats. They say beforehand whom they want to meet. With 250 buyers (agents) here, who have all also said whom they would like to meet, this results in 13,000 appointments over three days. Everyone has an average of 69 appointments. The table-purchasers sit tight. The next appointment arrives, sits down and for 15 minute there is dating talk. Large digital clocks show how the time is passing. After 15 minutes both parties have a five-minute breather, and the agents move on.
All of this is rather adrenalin-demanding, as you can imagine. It also requires an army, well 14 strong, of organisers. Reed Events’ Simon Mayle is heading the team here, and Natalie Weatherer is facilitating the daily Gostelow Reports Live that tell the behind-the-scenes or the ‘real story’ of ILTM Americas, and yes you can find them online. Natalie needed an input of energy at one stage. Fortunately the casual-luxury hotel that is main host of all this, Fairmont Mayakoba, does a great job in evidently-delectable cupcakes…