In 2021, we were ecstatic about the return to in-person events in the luxury travel industry. Long-forgotten outfits were unearthed from our wardrobes, hands were shaken and cheeks were kissed, LinkedIn connections multiplied, and the dark days of the pandemic started to fade from our memories.
Sure, there were also some invite-only trade shows that maybe should have spent 2020 reconsidering the value of their events in a post-COVID landscape, but we’ve already shared our thoughts on THAT particular issue.
We’ve been seeing some significant changes in the last year or so in both the travel and recruitment industry, as company values, purpose and mission become much more of a priority for customers and employees. We’re living in increasingly turbulent times, and anyone refusing to acknowledge this runs the risk of being forgotten about in favour of competitors that are passionate about highlighting inequality or bringing about change.
So this time around, when it comes to choosing which travel events to attend we’re not only considering the value of the trade show, but also whether our attendance will benefit an organisation that deserves our support.
In particular, we want to highlight the shows that are taking place in LGBTQ+ safe destinations. Despite the progress being made for this community, it’s still a scary (and sometimes illegal) time to be an LGBTQ+ individual in plenty of countries around the world, and if an event is held in a location that isn’t safe for everyone to attend, we don’t want to know about it.
We also want to shine a light on the luxury travel trade shows that are led by companies and (some of our favourite) influential industry figures that actually walk the walk when it comes to purpose, values and making a positive difference in their industry sector.
Forget about trying to sift through long-winded lists of every single luxury travel trade show happening in the next 12 months. Here’s our guide to the events that are actually worth attending (and are safe for everyone to do so!) in 2022/23.
When: 5th - 7th June 2023
Where: Los Angeles, California
Proud Experiences is one of the best and most-loved LGBTQ+ events in the travel industry, directed by industry icon Simon Mayle who also directs several other ILTM events and is an out and proud member of the community. This is a fantastic opportunity to connect with other LGBTQ+ people in the travel industry, discuss and learn about the kinds of issues faced by this demographic in travel and beyond, and network with businesses seeking to embrace and elevate the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2023, Proud Experiences will be taking place at the start of June in Los Angeles at the Fairmont Century Plaza, consisting of three days of exhibits, workshops, masterclasses and talks from a variety of exciting names and organisations. It’s an incredibly safe and inclusive LGBTQ+ space, and we can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for a travel trade show that is proud to show off its true colours.
When: 26th - 29th October 2022
Where: Milan, Italy
Founded in 1983, IGLTA is a world-leading organisation that organises trips and events for its huge network of LGBT-welcoming tourism businesses. Not only do they organise a wide range of conferences, networking events and activities that are queer-friendly, but they also work hard to promote safe and equal tourism and travel opportunities for LGBTQ+ people and share plenty of free resources to help make this happen.
The IGLTA Global Convention is a classic event in the LGBTQ+ travel community calendar that we’ll always recommend, not only because we’re friends with its wonderful South Africa Membership Organiser, Martina Barth. The 38th edition of this event is taking place in the fabulous Italian city of Milan and promises a fantastic schedule of networking lunches, education sessions and a buyer/supplier marketplace.
Did we mention that the opening reception is held in a 15th-century mediaeval castle? Count us in!
If you’re looking for luxury travel events in particular then the ones organised by Connections are your best place to start. Organised for an exclusive group of members working in this industry sector, Connections was founded in 2014 to develop a new and meaningful approach to networking by facilitating memorable and enjoyable experiences to spark real connection and conversation.
We’re incredibly excited about the fact that Gregory Reeves is now at the helm of these events after the departure of Micaela Giacobbe, as well as the fact that one of our favourites, Sam Blundsdon, has returned as a business development manager. The team and the events they organise are all with purpose and have strong values at their core, which we love to see in a market that is often saturated with visibly glamorous events without any kind of substance.
It’s worth noting however that some Connections events are held in countries that aren’t LGBTQ-friendly. However, their commitment to diversity as a team and an MD who truly gives a sh*t and is keen to see change in the industry puts them as THE luxury invite shows to invest in, ahead of companies like This is Beyond. Below are several shows that we’d highly recommend attending.
When: 25th - 29th September 2022
Where: London, UK
Connections Luxury London is a brilliant UK-based event for those in the luxury travel industry that consists of the classic Connections agenda of meetings and experiences. It’s being held this September as part of Jacobs Media Group’s Global Travel Week, and applications are still open if you want to attend.
When: 13th - 16th November 2022
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Connections Luxury Tokyo is going to be the first B2B luxury travel event that has been held in the city since the pandemic, so it is bound to be an exciting occasion with plenty of opportunities. The immersive experiences that make Connections’ events so special will all be based around sampling elements of Japanese culture, so this is truly not a luxury event to be missing out on.
When: 4th - 7th June 2023
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Connections Luxury Europe is one of this organisation’s largest flagship events, so if you want to experience meeting buyers from all over the world, this is certainly the occasion to do so. It’s an exclusive event for members with a handpicked selection of attendees and businesses along with some seriously special experiences on offer.
When: 3rd - 6th September 2023
Where: Funchal, Portugal
Connections Luxury Adventure took place for the first time in 2022, and was so successful that a 2023 event is already being organised. This event focuses on connecting buyers with suppliers that offer adventure travel experiences, all of the same luxury standard that you can expect from any Connections event.
When: 19th - 22nd October 2022
Where: Cascais, Portugal
Amour Global 2022 is hosted by the team at Private Luxury Events, and whilst we can’t recommend their sister luxury travel show TFest due to its location in anti-LGBTQ+ Dubai, we’re big fans of the work of people like Emily Brooks and Christy Kuplic are doing in organising valuable and inspiring luxury travel shows and we are actively liaising with them on how to make their events more inclusive. Amour is a brand that specialises in luxury romance travel, and Amour Global 2022 brings together over 110 global buyers for three days of meetings and connection, this year in the beautiful setting of Cascais on the Portuguese coast.
No list of the best travel trade shows would be complete without L.E/Miami. This event encapsulates everything we love about the travel industry, and we’re a massive fan of its director Zahava Abend for organising such an impactful and enjoyable event in the high-end travel sector.
The 2022 event has just taken place, and whilst dates have not yet been announced for next year’s gathering, we’re still including it on our list as a stand-out example of an inclusive event with strong values. L.E/Miami is invite-only, which creates a fantastic environment for business opportunities and discussion amongst a carefully curated group of individuals and organisations.
Their message is also to “celebrate the people and brands that rebel against convention” which we obviously support wholeheartedly!
If you’ve been looking for an event specialising in African travel then stop what you’re doing right now. The search is over - Experience Africa is THE Africa trade show to attend, above all others. The 2022 event has just been and gone, but we’re already excited for what next year will bring.
Experience Africa is organised by The African Travel and Tourism Association, of which our friend Chris Mears is Executive Director, and offers fantastic bang for your buck, connecting buyers from across Europe and the UK with a wide range of African travel products and experiences. The offering is wonderfully diverse and there’s no other destination-specific show offering quite the same level of opportunities and seminars over several days.
We also wanted to give a shout-out to these legends for making their 2022 event happen in London despite it taking place during the biggest rail strike in the UK. Talk about an impressive organisation!
When: 22nd June 2023
Where: London, UK
The International Women in Travel & Tourism Forum is organised by Women in Travel; a UK-based organisation that is dedicated to empowering those who identify as women through travel experiences, tourism and hospitality. Their annual forum may not be a specialist luxury event and it’s not invitation only, but we wanted to include it on our list as it’s a social enterprise with some seriously epic values. The 2022 summer event took place a few months ago, but the dates have already been released for next year’s event.
When: 2nd - 4th November 2022
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
SET is an invitation-only event that caters for business in the entertainment travel industry, running for the first time this November. We’re already big fans of SET because Zahava Abend and industry icon Marine Rolland are behind it.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that it’s held in the vibrant city of New Orleans - yep, you heard that right! Not only can attendees enjoy meeting with 120 exhibitors and 130 buyers, but you also get to enjoy the hospitality of one of Louisiana’s most famous destinations.
Loop isn’t a single annual event. In fact, it prides itself on being more of a community that organises multiple different gatherings throughout the year that facilitate connections between buyers and businesses in the travel sector. It’s the only travel fair offering luxury and high-end business opportunities in the German-speaking and Central and Eastern European markets, making this a fantastic option if your company specialises in relevant destinations.
When: 5th - 8th December 2022
Where: Cannes, France
ILTM Cannes is a classic luxury travel event that we had to include on this list for its reputation and the impressive number of attendees. One of many ILTM events happening around the world, (some of which do not take place in LGBTQ+ friendly destinations…) ILTM is a great opportunity for anyone in luxury travel to meet with like-minded people, develop new business partnerships and enjoy spending several days in one of France’s most glamorous cities.
The Global Business Travel Association is an organisation connecting companies in the business travel sector, and their annual convention has been taking place for over 50 years and is a fantastic choice for anyone working in this area. The 2022 event has just taken place, so keep your eyes peeled for the 2023 dates, as this is a fantastic opportunity to gain insight into what the future holds for business travel.
Virtuoso Travel Week is an annual global travel community event and one of the world’s biggest luxury travel conferences. The extended length of this event means that attendees are given more than enough time to arrange meetings and enjoy fruitful networking opportunities, leaving the event with a host of new ideas and business connections to build on in the following months.
The most recent Virtuoso Travel Week took place in the summer of 2022, but as such an influential and popular event in luxury travel, we’d recommend you start planning to attend the 2023 show already. This year a virtual event was also held, which is great news in terms of making the occasion more accessible for everybody.
We’re absolutely loving how many industry names and events are committing to promoting strong values and championing inclusion, as this list demonstrates. Many events still have a way to go in improving accessibility and ensuring that any ‘elite’ status associated with luxury travel doesn’t stop a diverse range of attendees, but the names we’ve highlighted in this post are proof that there is some really inspiring progress being made.
And as for the popular events that you’re not seeing on this list… We’re ready and waiting to see if they will make the necessary changes to make the cut next year.