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London Calling

london world travel marketIt’s always a treat when I am in one place for more than two or three days, so spending the week in London was a nice respite from my typical travels – i.e. – nine cities in 14 days.

The reason for the long duration of my stay was World Travel Market, held at Excel and Salon QP at the Saatchi Gallery went back to back this year.

World Travel Market attracts some 50,000 B2B visitors and contributes about $250 million to London’s economy.  The show is produced by Reed Exhibitions and claims some $2 billion in deals are consummated as a result of the meetings, wining and dining that takes place over the show’s four days.

While many of the world’s luxury hotels now exhibit at the International Luxury Travel Mart, in early December, in Cannes, World Travel Market draws Ministers of Tourism and high ranking officials from close to 100 countries.

The common theme is most governments have recognized the value of elite travelers to their economy.  The phrase “investment tourism” has become a buzzword.  It means you visit a place, like it so much you come back and then become intrigued with business opportunities and investments.  That’s how famous basketball player Julius “Doctor J” Erving came to own a Coca Cola distributor in South Africa, General Electric opened a large call center in Barbados, Ralph Lauren opened a factory in Jamaica and Larry Ellison bought the island of Lanai.

While it’s always fine to have folks come to check a box off their ‘bucket list” elite travelers future ROI for the places they visit make you a lucrative target.  More and more you can expect streamlined opportunities to showcase investment opportunities.

Outgoing Tourism Australia CEO Andrew McEvoy has been a leader in creating a plug in and play list of green-lighted developments.  Visit Britain Marketing Director Joss Croft shares an equally enlightened view.  The U.K. government is actively wooing foreigners to send their scions to school here noting that visiting parents, apartment leases and so forth generate nice revenues into the local economies.

Our Elite Traveler TV team spent three days at World Travel Market so stay tuned for some upcoming reports providing previously unreported insights into how you can turn your next vacation into another business opportunity!

Of course, when we say “private jet lifestyle” it means all the nice things that go along with flying privately.  Salon QP was launched in 2009 but in the refined environs of the Saatchi Gallery it provides an opportunity for timepiece connoisseurs to get up close and personal with some of the industry’s top brands, but also boutique watchmakers where the brand owner is actually there on site.

Nick and Giles English who have breathed fresh air into Britain’s watchmaking industry – manufacturing just outside London – were a popular attraction on their home field.  However, the show included a number of CEOs including Max Busser (MB&F), Steven Holtzman (Maitre du Temps), Kari Voutilainen (he just launched a book on the history of his namesake company), Edouard Meylan (H. Moser), David Gouten (Manufacture Royale which his family just acquired), Michel Jordi (Jordi Swiss Icon), Jonathan Purnell (Cecil Purnell), Badollet (Philippe Dubois) and Manuel Emch (Romain Jerome).

I was happy to have a chance during my week to visit London City Airport’s recently renovated terminal where the promise is “90 seconds from jet to car.”  It certainly underscores a key advantage of using private jets.

There was also the traditional annual reception held by The World Travel & Tourism Council hosted by Red Carnation CEO Brett Tollman at his The Chesterfield Hotel.  The event brings together some of the WTTC’s 100 CEOs (Gerald Lawless of Jumeirah, Geoffrey Kent of Abercrombie & Kent, etc.).  Staying at a Red Carnation hotel is a bit like staying with your wealthy Aunt who happens to remember how you like your martini (with a twist and a glass of ice cubes on the side) and makes food that doesn’t require a degree in rocket science to figure out what’s on your plate.

On Friday night I was able to catch up with Elite Traveler’s founding Editor Stacy Small who left the media business to become one the top luxury travel agents in the U.S. (her clients include moguls from Hollywood and Silicon Valley) during a lovely dinner at Bar Boulud in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.

While the week was probably better for my tailor than my waistline, it was also an important reminder of the tremendous and often underappreciated role elite travelers play in driving the economy through the places the visit and the goods they purchase.