Success and Bright Outlook at the ABTA Travel Convention in Barcelona, Spain

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Related Searches: Luxury Travel Fairs, Barcelona Travel Guide

For the first time Spain’s vibrant city on the water, Barcelona, hosted the annual ABTA Travel Convention last week. Met with great success with a variety of key speakers, travel experts and an international audience, the Travel Convention spoke to the future of luxury travel, with an overall consensus of success and positivity.

Local tourism boards Barcelona Turisme and España Tourism hosted the grand event that catered to travel, cruises and luxury travel professionals. The luxury travel program attracted almost 100 suppliers and luxury travel professionals to the three-day event including networking sessions, open panels and business presentations. Key speakers and panelists included Graham Boynton, Editor of Telegraph Travel and Ultratravel; Guy Gillon, leisure director and partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers; April Hutchinson, Editor of TTGluxury, and Derek Jones, Distribution Director of Kuoni Travel, Ltd.

Gillon’s optimistic presentation on the future of luxury travel struck a chord with just about everyone, as he reported on high returns and increased margins despite the economic downturn. “Businesses expect to improve in 2010. Luxury is chartering a new course … with resourceful and deal-savvy consumers.”

Indeed, according to a survey conducted by PwC, only 18% of 7,000 luxury customers stated that they would cut back on their main holiday. Gillon also stressed the power of the consumer shift and how luxury travel companies should accommodate the growing trend of “buying clever.”

Although there was some debate among professionals over the overly-optimistic survey results, generally everyone agreed that the luxury travel industry was embarking on a new course. Exotic destinations are emerging and companies are restructuring to meet new demands of travelers. As Boynton pointed out, the luxury travel market is “not just coming dancing out of the recession,” however there has been a definite shift that may be behind the positivity.

Frances Geoghagen of Africa Travel reported on the steady influx of travelers to Africa who are eager to try luxury safaris and stay in exotic locations. The upcoming World Cup in South Africa will no doubt contribute to the area’s growing interest, however also inspires some travelers to seek other holidays outside South Africa to avoid the inevitable increased travel traffic.

Responding to the changing demands, tour operators like Kuoni Travel are creating new packages and offering dynamic customer service for personalized and customizable holidays. Jones mentioned that just as customers are “buying clever,” companies are “selling clever” to fulfill the new expectations.

The ABTA Travel Convention arrived in Barcelona just as Barcelona Turisme launched a new program to attract high-end tourism: Barcelona Premium. Fourteen companies have banded together to promote Barcelona luxury travel, including the city’s most prestigious luxury hotels like Hotel Arts Barcelona, Casa Fuster and Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona. Barcelona Premium promotes Barcelona as “a city of unique experiences,” and offers extensive information about the city’s architecture, culture, history, shopping, spa services and corporate incentives.

The Travel Convention was also hot on the heels of the grand opening of the W Hotel in Barcelona’s seaside. The sleek sail-shaped hotel slips effortlessly into Barcelona‘s skyline and only further contributes to the city’s “hotspot” factor. When presenting the new W Hotel Barcelona at the Travel Convention, Global Brand Leader Eva Ziegler commented that the W Barcelona invites “insider access to a world of ‘Wow.’”


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