Luxury travel conference tackles sharing economy

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Collaborative-consumption expert Lauren Capelin spoke at the ILTM show.
Collaborative-consumption expert Lauren Capelin spoke at the ILTM show.

If you can’t buy a palace, at least you can stay in one of them. That’s an encapsulation of one of the topics of discussion (the collaborative economy) that took place during keynote presentations on the first day of the International Luxury Travel Market’s (ILTM) annual flagship event earlier this month.

The conference, which was held in Cannes, France, from Dec. 1 to 4, revealed the push-pull nature of the global luxury travel market, in which suppliers continue to try to raise the bar on exclusivity while more people than ever are now able to access a luxury travel experience.

In his presentation at ILTM’s Global Forum on Dec. 1, consultant and economist Nenad Pacek, president of Austria-based Global Success Advisors, spoke of a global economy in which the wealthy continue to get wealthier.

Pacek estimated that about 13 million people worldwide have $1 million in liquid assets at their disposal, with a larger-than-ever chunk of that earmarked for luxury travel.

Meanwhile, the collaborative economy, largely believed to be having its greatest impact on more moderate levels of travel, is edging its way into the luxury sector, said ILTM Global Forum speaker and collaborative-consumption expert Lauren Capelin, who discussed the concept of “idealizing access over ownership.”

Capelin presented goods and services such as an ad from Airbnb to “rent the country of Liechtenstein” for $70,000 a night, an offer from GetMyBoat to rent yachts for $7,000 a day, and an ad showing vintage Chanel purses that can be rented for $500 a month.

With the broadening of such services, Capelin added that about one in five luxury travel businesses are feeling an impact from the collaborative economy as more consumers look for unique, more personalized travel experiences.

The 13th annual edition of the conference attracted almost 1,500 buyers, planners and designers, and first-time visitors accounted for more than a third of that group. Buyers were met by almost 1,500 exhibitors representing businesses from 95 countries.

In all, one-on-one business appointments between buyers and exhibitors rose 3.6% from last year, to about 58,000, ILTM organizers estimated.

Other seminars during the event’s opening day covered topics such as the growing importance of both gastronomy and wellness in the luxury travel market.

Additionally, the event hosted press briefings from luxury hoteliers such as Four Seasons, Starwood Hotels, Jumeirah Hotels and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group as well as collectives such as Relais & Chateaux and Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

The organization’s next event will be ILTM Japan in Kyoto in March, followed by ILTM Africa in Cape Town in April.

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