I spent an hour last Friday down at The Luxury Travel Fair, at Olympia in London. And, yet again, it was a rather frustrating experience. Not helped, this year, by torrential rain and a fire at South Kensington underground station which caused traffic chaos.
This is the 5th 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.
What you get at The Luxury Travel Fair is 60 stands. Some were representing individual hotels (eg the Lily Beach in The Maldives, no, I’d never heard of it either), whilst the rest represented high-end travel agencies such as Cox & Kings.
There are no airlines taking part, and no major hotel chains or loyalty schemes represented. Some of the exhibitors had rather thin connections to travel as well, such as the Ushvani spa – this is about 10 minutes walk from my house, no flight ticket required!
Here are a couple of photos I shot:
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!). For every semi-interesting Silversea or Chic Collection, there was a Fleet Street Travel Clinic or Antler luggage stall.
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. However, this year, they did not allow you access to it. (In 2012 they did, in 2011 they didn’t – the policy seems to randomly change every year.)
(“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. It seems I’m not along – Business Travel Market at Excel was meant to be merged into World Travel Market this year, but ended up being scrapped entirely.
The Business Travel Show at Earls Court in February is the best of the bunch, although even that struggles to attract most of the big airlines. I will be there anyway, though – as long as Business Traveller magazine is still having their on-stand wine tasting sessions anyway ….