ILTM China’s second annual show in Shanghai – which took place 30 October – 1 November 2019 – facilitated over 9,000 one-to-one business appointments for 200 global luxury travel brands and experiences who met with 200 hand selected, high-end Chinese travel agents. The agents – each specializing in planning luxury travel for their high net-worth clients – were from 17 cities across China, reflecting the increasing spread of wealth across the nation.
The ILTM Opening Forum on 30 October focussed on the continued growth of China’s buying power and the global influence of Chinese consumers on tourism and luxury industries worldwide. It also featured a panel conversation with four travel specialist KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders/social media influencers), with wide followings in China to discuss insights on their influence on luxury travellers as well as the evolving role of social media in the travel experience. Moderated by Michael MacRitchie, Founder of China Consultancy MGI Entertainment, the panel featured Jiayi Zhao, Yibo Fan, Dan Xiao and Eric Shao each offering their unique perspective on the how and why KOLs drive demand in the China market. A key takeaway from the panel was the need to appropriately match the right fit between KOLs and brands to develop authentic collaborations that resonate with target markets.
Keynote speaker Jeff Towson, a Peking University professor and author of The One Hour China Bookemphasized the relative youth of regional consumer wealth, stating, “By 2020, 35% of total consumption in China is expected to come from young consumers and over 80% of wealth is currently held by those under 40 years of age.” Towson emphasized the size and “digital-first” behaviour of these consumers making them unique as a demographic.Towson also outlined his recommendations for luxury brands to achieve success in China, stressing that while this is a digitally driven market and consumers rely on Wechat and other online platforms for discovery and learning, physical experiences and personal relationships remain critical on the path to purchase.Andy Ventris, Event Manager for the ILTM Portfolio said, “We are thrilled with the opportunities we have facilitated for our partners here at ILTM China. The Chinese luxury travel market continues to grow and in our second year of hosting ILTM China, there are even more reasons to be here. China is the world’s most populous country and home to 373 billionaires, nearly one in five of the global total with the wealth continuing to grow at unprecedented speeds. ILTM is committed to our role in in creating long-lasting partnerships in the world’s largest outbound tourism market and we look forward to the continued growth of ILTM China year over year.”
Chris Walker, Senior Vice President of Global Sales for Leading Hotels of the World commented, “China is becoming increasingly important for The Leading Hotels of the World. Our members were excited to meet such high quality buyers at ILTM China 2019 – the quality of appointments was good and we met new buyers from different parts of China, such as Chengdu and Chongqing, as well as of course Beijing and Shanghai. Overall, we find this to be a great event for our members to engage with buyers and top luxury media.” Yannis Plexousakis, Director of the Greek National Tourism Association in China added: “This is the first time we have participated in ILTM China and it will not be the last. We found this show very fruitful – we have met with really high quality buyers – and it is very professionally organized.”
Ms. Kholoud Khalid Almanea, Tourism Marketing Analyst from the Royal Commision for AlUla, Saudi Arabia added: “This is the first time that we have participated in any exhibition and we chose ILTM China because we recognize the high potential in China. Chinese travellers love to be the first to experience a destination – our highest number of visa applicants are already from China. We will be collaborating closely with those we have met to build business and be back for ILTM China in 2020.” Tim Chatfield, Global Director of Luxury & Lifestyle Sales for IHG commented, “We are attending ILTM China for the second time with a large presence. It was great for the team to engage with regional outbound travel agents, which gave them a better grasp of the diverse Chinese market. IHG is experiencing an incredible growth phase in the luxury segment and ILTM is a key element of our strategy as we continue to grow in the luxury space.”
Benoit Badufle, Regional Director for Visit Monaco was thrilled with his experience adding, “My hoteliers are pleased by the variety of buyers at ILTM China and the chance to discover new buyers – we found the quality of our appointments was even better this year.”
Chunxia Cao (Helen) Co-Founder of Shanghai Bravo International Travel Service commented from the buyer’s perspective: “It’s my second time at ILTM China and again I’ve found it to be a great opportunity to find the exact niche suppliers I need for the needs of my luxury clientele. My customers are increasingly looking for international experiences different from what they’ve seen before and ILTM China is where I come to find suitable partners to meet the needs of my VIP clients. ILTM China is the time and the place for us to get the product education we need as the market continues to evolve.”
Xiangbo Ma (Nathan) with Sichuan Times Global Cultural Development based out of Chengdu added about his experience as a buyer at ILTM China: “This is the perfect event for us to get the information and inspiration we need for our business. We’re a boutique agency providing tailor-made itineraries for Chinese families and ILTM China provides us exactly what we need to cater to luxury clients. As a buyer, I find the event well-organized, comprehensive, and intensive. The appointment process, travel arrangements, on-site support, and networking events are impressively smooth and well-run making the three days a great use of my time.”