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Pearl Searching

Third B2B-luxury fair loop shows: Only specialities are in demand

loop 2016 Luxury Networking Event  
loop deluxe: Networking at its best at the 360 degree party in the
Old Opera  Frankfurt.


 

Gravenbruch/Frankfurt (April 22, 2016). The third edition of the B2B-luxury fair "loop" at the Kempinski Gravenbruch last week was considerably more international than the last two events, which especially excited the buyers, since more and more well-off clients are looking for new travel destinations: The current crises regions are fueling the search for safe destinations, extravagant ideas and reliable hotels.

100 Hosted Buyers from all parts of the German speaking regions met 100 hoteliers from around the world – two and a half days in 15-minute intervals. That adds up to 70 conversations each and as always, it was intense but good.

The challenging but sharply defined profile of loop has obviously gained fans (www.loop-luxury-fair.com). Thanks to loop, independent and chain hotels, travel agents offering lodges, train and boat holidays, as well as more and more tourist boards have "been forced" get in touch with every single buyer, thanks to a clever matching system. Every fifteen minutes, they took turns moving from one hotel to another in the cake-like design of the conversation roundabout, to get to the bottom of each individual USPs.

This year every buyer – whether travel agent or tour operator – was especially looking for travel pearls for their indulged clients. "Yes, we are looking for the cherries", Christian Wild confirms, head of a small, notable agency Der Reiseladen in Memmingen. It is his first visit, taking turns with his colleagues. He is not going to sign any contracts at loop; he sticks with his providers.

  loop 2016 Lueckertz Reisebuero Lueckertz Christoph
  Buyers question, hoteliers reply:
Christoph Lueckertz looking for
the pearls.


Christian Hagemann from Aachen, Managing Director of Germany's oldest travel agency – founded 108 years ago – sees things a bit differently. In these intensely competitive times, he wants to stay closer to the customer, in order to better sense their desires. "It is not the best room anymore which is requested, but all the specialities – everything that arouses enthusiasm," indicates the great-grandson of the travel agency founder, today running three travel agencies (Lufthansa City Center) with 24 employees.

"You must have a feel for the luxury market, and also be able to excite yourself for it," confirms Christoph Lueckertz, Managing Director of Germany's second oldest travel agency Lückertz in Muenster, which can look back on a 90-year family tradition. Even for "veterans in the business" like him, the "loopers" always have something new to offer: "How do hotels react to children or dogs, what has changed in their F&B?" Those are the details that pose an orientation for holiday bookings of wealthy clients. The more important it is for the majority of buyers, to get the news from the hotel owner, director or the responsible marketing/sales manager.

Many Italians, big chains and DMCs

A discussion during lunch showed that commisions are also an issue on the minds of the buyers, just like in the hotel industry. Hereafter are buyers becoming more and more flexible – following the philosophy: I don't care who I pay how much - most important is that my customer is satisfied and sticks with me…Contract arrangements with travel providers are also hiding another risk: Their cancellation fees are significantly higher than those of hotels.

Melf Wolfgang Tuerkis of IntoSol (International touristic Solutions) from Garbsen close to Hanover also commended the direct contact to hotel directors, train and boat travel providers for another reason: "In this (loop-)circle, where you mainly get to meet smaller and mid-sized hotels, which are usually hard to reach, genuine partnerships can still be established!", he says. For the third time, Tuerkis is attending the B2B-get-together and no longer wants to miss it: So far he has always been able to find the "second to none treats" for his demanding customers.

loop 2016 360 Grad Event  
Hoteliers and buyers love the cake-like design of the
conversation roundabouts.


 

At loop, the professional travel scouts were primarily concentrating on the search for the holiday thrills. That is when they got acquainted with new luxury hotels such as the Iberostar Grand Hotel Portals Nous in Mallorca, which charges over 1,000 euros per night and which was once planned as Kameha Residence. Or the absolute stylish Catalunya Golf-Resort, close to the Spanish Costa Brava, opening this summer. Or they found Paradisus Resorts in Cuba, a noticeably more attractive becoming destination. Furthermore, the first (medical) spa resort, Canyon Ranch in Turkey is the first spa resort of the group outside the USA – opening this July. And Epitome presented itself as an agency, promising a new Greece experience with their unique villas and country houses.

This year the presented hotels were mainly located in Italy, but also Spain, the UAE and South Africa. Just a few German hotels were presented (for example new was The Fontenay Hamburg), but instead more Austrian hotels. Apart from individual hotels, several hotel chains presented themselves, e.g. Amanresorts, Armani, Atlantis and Banyan Tree.

"This year the number of travel providers for ships/boats has increased, such as Aqua Expeditions, of which little river boats cruise in Peru, Vietnam and Cambodia, and trains like the Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, which cruise through Europe and Asia," explained Astrid Oberhummer, Managing Director of Lobster Experience from Offenbach, the organizer behind loop. Exotics are in demad – consequently, more destinations, resp. Destination Management Companies have registered this year with loop – like New Zealand, Anguilla, Oman or Tenerife. Tenerife presented their own created luxury brand "Select".

Prices are rising

  loop 2016 Losinj Hotels Schneider Karl
  Karl Schneider of Losinj Hotels in Croatia explaining
how the country will become a new luxury destination.


Political, oil and refugee crises are limiting the number of safe destinations in Europe and the Middle East significantly. Overall, the luxury segment is sure to profit though, as well as smaller hotels or exotic travel providers in particular. All buyers agreed on this in discussions with hospitalityInside.com. Christian Wild predicts: These summer holidays are going to cost a fortune! Even though it is still early in the tourism year 2016, travelers are already willing to pay more for a lower quality. Already, Christian Hagemann has noticed 30 to 50 percent higher green fees in Spain and Portugal and he is sure: In 2017 buyers will be forced to purchase at considerably higher prices.

Depending on the destination, the hotel side reveals a different picture. "The last minute business will decide on this year," Karl Schneider, Leisure Sales Manager of Losinj Hotels & Villas in Croatia, is sure, having in mind the unpredictable political turmoil and the impacts for the tourist industry. The representative of the resort with its three hotels located in the Kvarner Bay at the Northern Adriatic expects respectable growths in the luxury segment: "Croatia is a new luxury destination and an alternative to Mallorca", he says. Most beds in Spain and its Mediterranean islands are already booked for the summer season 2016.

Schneider describes the new seaplane network in Croatia as the most recent kick for the more demanding travellers. The planes quickly bring the holiday makers from the smaller airports such as Pula or Split to the islands, at affordable rates. In Losinj, sailing yachts and speed boats, with or without skipper, await the indulged guests. Organised by the resort’s own concierge service (called Adria Blue Collection), the resort even offers individual sailing, spa and gourmet trips throughout the country – for couples, families/friends, and groups. Croatia continues to distinguish its profile – also thanks to the dedication of several destination resorts like Losinj.

Keeping close contact with the customers

"Today, the destination is only important when you have special affectations such as water or golfing," as Christoph Lueckertz remarks. What rather causes concerns with buyers and hotels are the young inheritors. They are less loyal and choose to experiment with new ideas, since they are much better informed than their parents, thanks to internet and chats with friends. They also do not want to dress in formal attire in the evenings anymore.

loop 2016 Teamfoto  
Nice compliments from the "loopers" for
the team and its personal support.

 

Do these young wealthy people also book more frequently or now exclusively online? This does not seem to be the case. "We as professional agents can hold against this with our experience and network," says Christoph Lückertz. "Anyhow," as colleague Christian Hagemann adds, "we have to stay close to the customer!"

This also accounts for buyers as well as hoteliers and other tourism providers. Both sides applauded the quality of the third edition of the loop, which has once again increased, the personal caretaking as well as the harmonious atmosphere at the Kempinski Gravenbruch, which was exclusively rented once again by Lobster Experience for this B2B event. The new general manager Karina Ansos could announce news herself to the "loopers": The luxury hotel, which has been stylishly-elegantly renovated for two years, will open its new 2.000 square metre spa in May and will crown the hotel as Frankfurt's only "urban resort". You can find pictures and videos on the event under www.lobster-event.com/de. / Maria Puetz-Willems

 

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