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What happened at The Luxury Travel Fair?

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I spent yesterday morning down at The Luxury Travel Fair, at Olympia in London.  And, yet again, it was a rather frustrating experience.

This is the 4th time I have been to the show.  Whilst tickets are nominally on sale (£14.50), there are many routes to get them for free, one of which I posted back in September.

As it happens, a friend later gave me his spare VIP ticket, which allowed me 2 free glasses of Louis Roederer champagne from the bar, which is always welcome at 10.30 in the morning!

What you get at The Luxury Travel Fair is 60 stands.  About half were representing individual hotels (eg the new Siam Kempinski in Bangkok), whilst the rest represented high-end travel agencies such as Cox & Kings and Elegant Resorts.

There are no airlines taking part, and no major hotel chains or loyalty schemes represented.  (Last year, Starwood did have a stand promoting their credit card.)

Unfortunately, I found the show dull.  I knew I would, because I always do – although I pop along in the hope that it will improve, or that I can at least get a couple of interesting gifts or find some good competitions to enter (neither true this year!).

(To be fair, Conde Nast Traveller was doing a good deal on subscriptions.  For £20 you got the next years worth of magazines, a voucher for a free glass of champagne at the fair bar, 2 full size Elemis products (worth over £20 alone) and entry into a competition with surprisingly generous daily prizes – and presumably a fairly high chance of winning.)

The problem with The Luxury Travel Fair is that, if you’re a miles and points collector, you don’t need a luxury travel agent to arrange your flights, because they will be on miles!  You will also probably be staying at a chain hotel if you are spending accumulated hotel points, or looking to use your holiday to earn some more.  And there weren’t many of those represented either!

The Spirit of Christmas fair takes place at the same time at Olympia, and this year – unlike 2011 – you could wander freely between the shows.  The Sprit of Christmas tickets are rarely discounted, so it is odd that you can effectively get a free ticket to The Spirit of Christmas by getting a free ticket to The Luxury Travel Fair.

(“Spirit of Christmas” is  also unlikely to appeal to Head for Points readers.  It is basically a posh indoor market whose target customer is a 50-year old woman living in The Cotswolds!)

I really struggle to enjoy the big travel shows.  Business Travel Market at Excel in June was terrible, I thought (see this post!).

The Business Travel Show at Earls Court in February is the best of the bunch, although they have just rejected my request for a press pass!  I will be there anyway, though.

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