ILTM, the portfolio of global travel conferences, is launching a China-specific conference for 2018. The new forum, which will be called ILTM China, is intended to respond to the booming market in that country.
The original conference for the market in the region, ILTM Asia, which is currently held in Shanghai (and is underway this week), will continue next year, but will move to Singapore.
The rise of global Chinese travel from a niche market to, arguably, the most important tourism market in the world has raised significant doubts about “Asia strategies” in recent years among tourism marketers pursuing sales activities in Asia.
With global Chinese travel booming to unprecedented levels, marketers are wondering if it still makes sense to treat China as just another travel market in Asia.
For ILTM, the answer is clear: China is a distinctly different market from the rest of Asia Pacific, and given its significant share of Asian international travel, it deserves a China-exclusive event. The rest of Asia, while still an important part of the portfolio, is better represented without getting dwarfed by China’s booming luxury travel industry.
Meanwhile, China and Asia are getting increased attention by ILTM in the coming few years. ILTM Japan is being reoriented into a 100-percent inbound travel market. Rather than bidding to help bring Japanese luxury travelers abroad, ILTM Japan is redefined as an exclusively inbound affair.
Whereas the move certainly reflects Japan’s growing attractiveness as a luxury travel destination for overseas tourists, it also underlines Japan’s shrinking importance as a source of tourists on the international level.
In fact, the upcoming forums in China and the reoriented one in Japan are presented as polar opposites of each other. The former is an exclusively outbound affair, bringing the Chinese luxury travelers to the world, whereas latter presents Japan’s rich tourism resources to the world.
China, while very much the main tourism market in Asia, is not a destination that is particularly exciting for luxury brands as a major recipient of high-end tourists. On the other end of the spectrum, Japan is among the most exciting destinations for luxury travelers, but it fails to excite organizations in Asia Pacific and beyond as a significant source of customer growth.
The rest of Asia, Southeast Asia in particular, tugs along as a significant source and recipient of affluent travelers in the region.
ILTM’s new strategy proves two things: China is an outbound luxury travel market to be reckoned with; however, until the rest of the region catches up, a balance between inbound and outbound tourism remains an elusive prospect.
For travel marketers, ILTM’s decision to treat the China market separately from that of the rest of Asia Pacific may be preferable. After all, Asia is a diverse place that requires a wealth of marketing messages to truly resonate with all of its consumers. Decoupling China from the rest of Asia is the first of many steps in the process of getting a more targeted marketing message to the right group of Asia’s growing number of luxury travelers.