From 5 – 8 December I attended the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) in Cannes. A yearly event, it offers a platform for travel agents, event organisers, luxury hotels and venues, transportation companies and other service providers for the luxury market to meet face-to-face, exchange ideas, build relationship and do business. For me, this was the first time at the ILTM, and what a great experience it was!

The Global Forum

The event kicked off with the Global Forum and its key theme was Love, Loyalty and Luxury.

The sessions were very inspiring and confirmed that what I am trying to deliver with our concept and philosophy at Italian Special Occasions DMC, is also what the world is asking to change: The luxury travel market, both corporate and private, is looking for new travel experiences and for meaningful relationships with local hosts.

As an industry, we rely daily upon global politics, empathy, culture and emotional connections, and that is what The Forum explored within the modern luxury landscape.

The Forum kicked off with the first speech by James Kerr, a best-selling author, speaker and business consultant specialising in defining, designing and delivering change for leaders of world-class teams and organisations. His speech was followed by a spectacular Haka, a traditional war cry dance of the Maori people of New Zealand. It was performed traditionally by warriors before the battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition, but not only, it is also performed for welcoming distinguished guests, to acknowledge great achievements, on special occasions or funeral.

International Luxury Travel Market

James Kerr linked the dance to the message he came to deliver – if you work in a team, connection, cohesion and collaboration will lead to success. His talk was fundamental to understand and harness the power of human connections to create loyalty, purpose, connection, cohesion and contribution to achieve outstanding results. He also touched on the topic of thriving to achieve a healthy work atmosphere. Nowadays, many companies forget their original purpose and the values, mission and loyalty they had at core when they started. Companies need to “get back to basics”, change unhealthy habits and shift the focus back to human connections and put them at the core of everything they do.

International Luxury Travel Market

Second speaker was Andrew Solomon, a PhD., writer and lecturer on politics, culture and psychology, a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Centre, and President of PEN American Centre, and his talk was based on his latest work “Far and Away”. This work explored the unfolding of history and the people who were at the core of creating it and being shaped by it.

His adventurous travels took him across the world to experience and witness history being made, such as staring down tanks on the barricades in Moscow during the putsch that ended the Soviet Union, celebrating with local musicians in Kabul immediately after the US invasion of Afghanistan and being brought in for questioning in Libya under Gaddafi’s regime.

These experiences, thought him one valuable lesson – the local people. This is the new form of luxury travel we start seeing today. If you travel with open eyes and open heart, travel can make you richer. Luxury, is to be open to the otherness and make you become a citizen of the world. The luxury tourism industry has the power to change the way of travel to a true tourism, led by experience of the locals, local history and traditions and current political and economic situation.

International Luxury Travel Market

Unwrap your DNA

During the fair, I was honoured to meet Rebecca Fielding, the founder of Unwrapped Travel. Their philosophy is “when you see the world, you change your vision to 360 degree and that will help you change the world”. Her team of travel experts creates unique cultural experiences. They travel and discover cultures, to help us have a memorable holiday and eliminate boundaries.

I was amazed by their new product called DNA Unwrapped. You can give them your DNA which will be taken to a laboratory. The DNA test will go up to 5000 years, and you will follow your DNA journeys organized by Unwrapped Travel to your origins. You will meet people and immerse yourself in the cultures of the places where you are from. This tie with Andrew Solomon’s messages: through the DNA journey we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves and become global citizens.

Rebecca Fielding and Andrew Solomon delivered a very strong message about the importance of travel today. Rebecca said: “We live in a difficult world, and we cannot avoid facing it anymore. The Travel Industry can make the change to discover the world with a true local experience, and with a simple DNA test understand our origins. After knowing our origins, there will be no reason for boundaries to exist, because we are citizens of the world”.

Breaking stereotypes

This goes back to my international background. I have lived in London, Spain, Brazil, and I had the opportunity to develop the product in Ireland, Portugal, England and France. Traveling to many countries gave me the possibilities to learn a different way of living, how each country cultivates their territory, what kind of experience they can offer to the traveler.

When I became responsible for promoting Italy, I was a bit disappointed as the knowledge of Italy was based on: Florence, Venice, Rome and Maybe Amalfi, and Sicily was linked to the land of the God Father movie, which is a pure Fiction. If you try to compare Sicily to the Sicily of the God Father movie, you will be surprised how not happy a Sicilian will be. Why? Because Sicily is an open air museum, has it all, traditions, arts, food, excellent wine, and we cannot stop or be distracted by a Movie that create something which does not even close to the reality, and this wrong message apply to the whole Italy.  Each region in Italy has something to say, something to be discovered and a lot of culture to give out. That is the reason why I pushed myself to leave my Job, and endeavour this great challenge which is to deliver a completely different Italy, and as Rebecca started with the DNA project, I startedItalian Special Occasions DMC. My mission is to promote Italy as a premium destination for corporate and private group events and Destination Weddings. Through incorporating the sensorial experiences, finding the right region and season combination, as well as incorporating local elements, we ensure that our clients experience Italy in a unique and authentic way.

This is a long journey toward a good change, but if we all make a small change the way we actually work in tourism, I am sure it will have its effects. I am happy to say that we start to collaborate with DNA Unwrapped for what we are trying to deliver about our beautiful country Italy.

I would like to conclude with this powerful thought I came across at the Forum: “The luxury travel Industry works towards delivering exceptional experience that speak to personal passions, help customers explore the things they love more deeply, and provide real world experience of the Global Issues we care about”.

It perfectly relates and binds with our philosophy atItalian Special Occasions DMC, as we are working daily on delivering memorable experiences to our international customers.

Photo credits: International Luxury Travel Market