Report from ILTM: Luxury travel continues to boom

The show floor at the International Luxury Travel Marketplace. Photo Credit: Jeri Clausing
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

CANNES, France -- The official theme of this year's International Luxury Travel Market was health and wellness. But the real one was: Business is just crazy busy.

At least that was the response of every travel adviser and travel supplier I talked to this week at what has become one of the premier global luxury shows, which connects top-selling agents with destinations and luxury travel companies from virtually every corner of the earth.

Now in its 17th year, ILTM once again boasted record numbers, with 1,800 travel advisers and 1,800 exhibitors from 109 countries. And even after years of booming growth in luxury travel, there were absolutely no signs that growth will let up any time soon.

When it comes to the adviser community,  Protravel International president Becky Powell said her company has seen a marked increase in customers just in the past year.

To meet demand, she said the company recently opened offices in Austin, Texas, and Orange County, Calif., and she expects to open several more next year, probably in the Pacific Northwest and on the East Coast. In the past, she said, most of the company's growth has come from acquisitions, but with double-digit growth this year, she said the adage "if you build it, they will come" has proved to be true.

She said that the biggest challenge has been creating the training programs for the millennials seeking to enter the business, to help them establish successful agencies and maintain the company's brand standards.

"Crazy, sick, busy," is how Andy Levine, founder of the cycling adventure tour company DuVine, described business the past year. While he said he doesn't want to grow too big, he keeps looking for unique products to meet the demand for trips like his, which offer healthy food with active adventures.

Among one of his newest offerings are trips on luxury sailing yachts, or gulets, to small islands between Turkey and Greece; guests are met at the docks with bikes they can ride around the island and meet up with the boat on the other side later in the day.

And while health and wellness travel has become almost mainstream in the luxury sector, it was the theme of the opening session this year. ILTM released research that shows there is still much room for agents to grow in this arena, as they still rank low on the list of those who influence people to seek out such vacations.

Correction: This report was updated to correct the name of the founder of DuVine. His name is Andy Levine.

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