This was followed by two days of business between some of the world’s top spa destinations, resorts and retreats, who met with buyers from 20 countries, all of whom specialise in luxury leisure programmes with specific interest in spa and wellness travel.
Gauging the effect of this first event, exhibitors and buyers alike praised the ability to network with the industry and meet with so many spa and wellness specialists. Astrid Oberhummer, who represents Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland said “It’s difficult in this industry to find networks that specialise in the sector and ILTM Spa has been absolutely the place to do this. The event has met all my expectations and it has been good to meet face-to-face with buyers who are spread all over the world, but who have been brought to London to meet with us”.
Ane Ugarte, Sales & Marketing Director for Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque Resort chose to attend based on her experience of being an exhibitor at ILTM Cannes for the past eight years. “I decided to participate in ILTM Spa because of the success of Cannes, 90% of the Hosted Buyers we have met with here were totally new to us. I love the 20-minute business meeting format, I will be coming back”.
Na Tasukon, Director of Marketing for Chiva-Som said: “ILTM Spa has been so successful for us on many levels. There have been buyers from new markets for us, like Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic, Israel and South Africa. Some of them were the only people in these countries specialising in spa right now – they are the pioneers. The two days have unequivocally been value for money and I have already committed to come back in 2014”.
Also a speaker at the ILTM opening Spa Forum, Na explained to the audience of exhibitors and buyers that; “Spa is clearly shifting into wellness which has been reflected in what the buyers also want. It’s all about measurability of results, evidence based treatments, and this will then lead to repeat business, which is what we all want.
The Hosted Buyers came from 20 countries including the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, USA, Israel, Germany, China, Azerbaijan and UAE and undertook over 1,360 business appointments over two days with exhibitors from Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe, Middle East and North America.
Alison Gilmore Senior Exhibition Director, ILTM Portfolio said that this inaugural event for London proved how this niche sector of the travel industry deserves its own spotlight. “Whilst this year was just 37 exhibitors and 37 Hosted Buyers, we can see how important its been from a business perspective not only through the appointments and comments from both sides, but also at the networking events where the business continued to be discussed. We want ILTM Spa to grow and from the support already for 2014, it looks like we are on track to provide what this industry needs, its own annual event and Forum”.
ILTM Spa will take place in London from 1-3 October in 2014.