NEW YORK (Dec. 15, 2014) ─ Luxury Travel Exchange International (LTX) came to a successful close last week at The Palazzo in Las Vegas after announcing transformative plans for 2015 and hosting thousands of one-to-one meetings among more than 900 professional travel advisors and luxury travel suppliers.
Presented by Luxury Travel Advisor and Travel Agent magazines and produced by Questex Hospitality + Travel, the event brought top-producing advisors of luxury and premium niche travel together with leading suppliers for three days of interactive networking, accredited educational programming and one-to-one meetings on its busy Exchange trade-show floor, booked through Questex’s proprietary appointment scheduler.
Specialization emerged as a key theme at LTX, with travel advisors urged to become more “niche focused.” Examples of niche markets include weddings and honeymoons, sustainable and “voluntourism” travel; safari; cruise ship travel, spa and wellness travel; family and multigenerational travel; and the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions segment.
Underscoring this theme and citing consumer trends and feedback, Questex announced plans for a new event targeting travel professionals next year – Travel Industry Exchange (TIX) – to emphasize niche travel and specialization. Jill Birkett, LTX event director, said Travel Industry Exchange will offer advisors “abundant opportunities to network with global suppliers across all markets, with over 60 sessions focused on specific revenue-generating niche segments.”
Travel Industry Exchange will debut Sept. 15-17, 2015, in Orlando, featuring one-to-one appointments, networking events, and educational programs designed to help travel professionals and suppliers build on their specializations and grow their businesses.
“In 2015, Luxury Travel Exchange will transform into Travel Industry Exchange, an all-encompassing conference built around specialization, including the luxury market,” said Birkett. “Specialization allows advisors to focus their efforts and gain intimate knowledge and expertise that will make them invaluable partners to their clients, who are looking for authentic and unique experiences.”
The robust lineup of LTX speakers this week included food, wine and experiential marketing expert Michael Green, who provided the event’s high-energy motivational keynote focused on how luxury travel advisors can market their products and services in unique and distinct ways through customer personalization, engagement, access and memorable add-ons. Green, founder and chief solutions officer of the Liquid Assets Consulting Group and consultant to Gourmet Magazine for 20 years, said travel advisors can drive sales and exceed client expectations by satisfying customers on a deep, emotional level.
In his presentation, “The Affluent Traveler: Motivations, Myths and Market Opportunities,” travel trend expert Peter Yesawich revealed highlights from the 2014 MMGY Global/Questex Portrait of Affluent Travelers and provided insights into the emerging travel behavior and preferences of the growing affluent market, with a particular focus on the next generation of affluent travelers and millennials. Yesawich directs MMGY’s consumer research and is regarded as one of the most respected and insightful sources on the habits, preferences and intentions of American travelers.
A session entitled “Have You Found Your Niche,” was presented by Patty Noonan, director of sales for The Travel Institute, Jason Swaye, a Virtuoso Luxury Travel Advisor with Vision Travel Solutions, Leslie Overton, managing director and family travel specialist with Absolute Travel, Andrea Ross, CEO of Journeys Within, and Meredith Hill, founder & president of Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs. Other leading speakers included Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel and Founder of TASK Travel Agent Success Kit, who gave a presentation entitled “Developing Your Personal Brand.”
“The number-one reason to specialize is to make more money,” Hill said. “One year after I decided to specialize, I quadrupled my income.” Overton noted that family travel gained importance following 9-11, which caused families to focus attention to the importance of spending time and sharing experiences with one another. Ross, who specializes in Southeast Asia, suggested that advisors differentiate themselves by organizing trips outside of their clients’ comfort zones and finding a deep emotional connection in destinations.
“The way you articulate what you do, who you do it for and why you do it” can help advisors “dig into the emotional triggers,” Ross said. She challenged each advisor to consider “how have I proven myself to be different,” adding that the answer should be “something that is easily digestible,” because advisors need to be clear about communicating their specialties and what they have to offer.
This year’s sponsors included Disney Destinations, Maldives ... The Sunny Side of Life, AMResorts, Japan National Tourism Organization, India Tourism, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, The Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Down Under Answers, Sud de France Languedoc-Roussillon.