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GETTING INVITED TO THE SPA EVENT

Well-known for its exclusive guest list, getting invited to an ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) event is somewhat similar to getting an invite to the Met Ball of luxury travel. Hailed as one of the most-anticipated spa shows of the year, the spa-focused travel and leisure industry event, ILTM Spa, will host its inaugural show in London this September.

In this issue, we speak to Alison Gilmore, Exhibition Director of ILTM Events, about the upcoming ILTM exhibitions, her experience with luxury travel and spa trends. As the needs of the discerning spa consumer evolve, the standards of luxury spas are raised higher than ever. The search for the ‘perfect, luxurious’ spa getaway has now become a top vacation idea for the affluent, seeking pampering treatments away from home.

Enter ILTM Spa, an industry event for luxury travel planners, organizers, buyers and suppliers, to gather and share their experiences, showcase their products and network with fellow elites of the spa industry. Following the success of the Spa and Wellness launch event in Austria last year, ILTM will hold its first-ever ILTM Spa at Knightsbridge, London, this year, in conjunction with the prestigious Tatler Spa Awards. “The decision (to hold it together with the Tatler Spa Awards) helps bring the industry together in one place. Earlier this year a report by The Director magazine said the value of this industry is £39 billion with more than £5.2 billion being spent on spa services in the UK alone, so it’s fitting we meet in London in 2013,” said ILTM exhibition director, Alison Gilmore.

The lady behind the shows…

As the Exhibition Director of ILTM Events, how long have you been in the travel industry?

AG I have been with ILTM for 18 months and in the industry for 18 years, 15 years of which was with American Express, where I worked on their premium travel products – the perfect introduction to the world of luxury travel.

What it is you do in your current work? What motivates you most to do what you do?

AG In the eighteen months I’ve been with Reed Travel Exhibitions, we have launched 4 additional ILTMs to support the established ILTM in Cannes and ILTM Asia in Shanghai, including our first ever product-specific event – ILTM Spa. My entire team lives and breathes each event: luxury travel evokes such passion and I am lucky to be surrounded by so many people passionate about delivering bespoke events.

We understand that there was a Spa and Wellness launch event in Austria last year; can you tell us more about it?

AG ‘Spa and wellness by ILTM’ took place in Austria in September 2012 and proved a great success for all involved. There is a huge opportunity for spa brands to capitalise on the potential this global industry offers and the first dedicated ILTM Spa is now part of the ILTM portfolio – a ‘must attend’ event for anyone involved in this fast-moving global industry.

So, about ILTM events…

About the exhibitions that ILTM will be hosting over the next few months, can you tell us more about it? How different are they from one another?

AG In response to industry demand, ILTM has expanded its portfolio. This year, (we are) featuring six specific events across the world.

Now in its 12th year, the global ILTM event takes place in Cannes in December, inviting the most sought-after of buyers, planners and designers of luxury travel from all four corners of the world to meet directly with leading global luxury travel suppliers in over 51,000 pre-scheduled appointments.

There are two regional events in the ILTM 2013 Portfolio: ILTM Asia (Shanghai, 2 – 5 June 2014) and ILTM Americas (Mexico, 30 September – 3 October 2013), both of which invite luxury travel suppliers from across the world to meet with buyers representing high-net worth individuals from each of these key emerging markets. We will also feature two market-specific ILTM events: ILTM Japan in March and ILTM Africa, 28 – 30 April 2014, as part of Reed Travel Exhibitions’ first Africa Travel Week.

Forum will hear from leading experts in Eastern medicine, Western psychology, destination spas and commercial spa excellence, as well as global trends affecting the world of luxury and the many new opportunities opening up worldwide.

Are there any notable exhibitors at this event?

AG Some of the suppliers that will be taking part in this year’s event include SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain, Chiva Som in Thailand, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland, Rocco Forte’s Verdura Golf and Spa Resort in Italy, The Body Holiday in St. Lucia and Spain’s Gran Hotel Bahia Del Duque Resort.

How different are ILTM exhibitions from other travel fairs?

AG ILTM events are trade-only hubs exclusively for the business of bespoke luxury travel. These elite suppliers will meet with spa specialists from across the world in a series of pre-scheduled appointments, mutually selected by each party to ensure the best of opportunities to build business.

We are curious, but why did ILTM choose an invite-only format for its events?

AG ILTM has always has an invite-only guest list – it is what defines the shows. We invite only the most reputable of buyers who are both recommended and then vetted by our hosted buyer team. No more than 30% of buyers will ever attend two different ILTM events – we seek the new and the established from all markets. Our focus for 2013 is to identify new spa specialists from across the world and we will work closely with partners such as World Travel to identify the very best.

Were there any challenges you faced during the planning of ILTM Spa?

AG The challenge for ILTM is always the high standards we expect for both our exhibitors and buyers.With ILTM Spa specifically, we knew there was a gap in the market for a dedicated spa event,

but our challenge has been communicating the incredible potential value the spa industry has on a global basis.

What ‘luxury’ means to you…

When ‘Luxury Travel’ is mentioned, what usually comes to your mind?

AG The term luxury is clearly subjective, but to me, luxury travel is defined by an access to places or products that are reserved for the very few.

What are some memorable luxury travel experiences you had?

AG I consider myself privileged to be working And of course, ILTM will also hold its first product specific ILTM Spa event this year, in association with Tatler and the Tatler Spa Awards.

Can you tell us more about the ILTM Spa that will be held at Knightsbridge, London?

AG ILTM Spa 2013 takes place at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London from 30th September – 2nd October 2013. It is held in association with the annual Tatler Spa Awards – one of the world’s leading international spa events – bringing the whole industry together and confirming ILTM Spa as a ‘must attend’ event for anyone involved in this fast-moving global industry.

Following the successful format of ILTM, ILTM Spa will invite and host spa specialists to meet with the world’s leading global spa suppliers in a series of pre-scheduled, one-to-one business appointments throughout the event. Monday 30 September will see the ILTM Spa Opening Forum, featuring high-profile speakers and topical presentations before the Tatler Spa Awards.

Who are some of the speakers involved?

AG Exhibitors attending the ILTM Spa Opening in luxury travel and I have many memorable experiences! One of these is a week on Necker Island as an invited guest where everything was exceptional. A trip to Antarctica was probably another highlight and I am just about to go on holiday to the Artic to complete my pole-to-pole adventure.

In your opinion, what do you think of spas now compared to couple of years back?

AG Spas are fast becoming an important element in people’s lives: they are no longer the preserve of pampered women. As it becomes harder and harder to take time out of our busy lives, it has become all the more obvious that there is no better way to recuperate than on a wellness holiday, when a week of good behaviour can make up for a multitude of sins and kick-start a whole new you. No wonder spas and wellness holidays continue to be the fastest growing travel trend of our time… and not just for women.

So, what’s next for you and ILTM? What are you looking forward to after wrapping up this year’s series of exhibitions?

AG Obviously the up and coming ILTM Spa at the end of September is key at the moment, but looking forward in 2014; we recently announced the launch of ‘Africa Travel Week’ in Cape Town from April 28th to May 3rd 2014.

Following the successful launch of ILTM Africa earlier this year, the decision to create an all-encompassing Africa Travel Week will help bring the world to Africa and promote Africa to the world’s leading source markets.

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