After almost 20 years of assembling the world’s premium travel brands and travel designers in Cannes, ILTM has been forced by the pandemic to abandon the annual event in December.
Many in the luxury sector will have spent hundreds of hours over the years pounding the aisles of the Palais des Festivals et des Congres centre and strolling along La Croisette, or being entertained on yachts, hidden back-street restaurants, or in villas in the hills. And there will be no champagne fountains or revolving dancefloors this year.
ILTM Cannes has been officially postponed to 2021 and instead of a red carpet, it will be computer screens and WiFi “uniting the international luxury travel industry” as the event goes virtual for the first time in its history.
Event organisers Reed Exhibitions said the new ILTM World Tour will aim “to provide an environment for international luxury travel brands and regional buyer communities to virtually meet to connect and build their businesses”.
It will take place across three consecutive days, over three consecutive weeks, reaching three buyer source regions, including Europe, Middle East and Africa from 23-25 November. There will also be virtual versions in Asia Pacific (17-19 November) and for North and South America (1-3 December).
All suppliers will have be able to consider whether they wish to do business in their core markets, or also discover new ones, ILTM said.
For example, a luxury travel brand from Europe that wants to meet with Asia Pacific buyers would select that week (17-19 November) and arrange appointments during that buyer’s time zone; alternatively, exhibitors can attend all three weeks to meet a range of global advisors.
“While we know that virtual events will never replace our love to meet and share stories in person, we know right now that what counts the most is getting business lined up for 2021,” said Alison Gilmore, ILTM Portfolio director. “We cannot predict the timing of when growth will come back, but we can be ready for whenever it happens.”
More than 5,000 delegates attended the 18th edition of ILTM Cannes in 2019, making it the “biggest ILTM event ever”.
“We know that the unprecedented events of 2020 have meant the luxury travel industry has had to adapt their business strategies,” Gilmore added.
“With target markets shifting as some borders remain closed, we want the objective of the ILTM World Tour to offer a global proposition to open up opportunities for all participants and be a time to bring people together, uniting through shared experiences and business, whilst we plan for our return.”