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Travelux Club, an exclusive luxury travel networking event organized by Nebe, was held last weekend (15-18 Mar 2018) at the Villa Erba Convention Center on Lake Como.
The sun is hidden behind a somber cloud, temperatures are low and rain patters the glass dome of the Villa Erba garden-atrium convention center, but that doesn’t stop global leaders in the luxury travel business from getting down to business.
The salons of the meeting hall are arranged with desks, conference tables and large comfortable armchairs creating a networking atmosphere where new partnerships can come together.
An elegant woman with dark-blonde hair wearing a red tailored jacket confidently walks towards me. Along the way, she stops to speak to people, fluently transitioning from Italian to Spanish to English. Elisabetta Neri is founder and manager of Nebe, the organization behind the event. This year, they are celebrating their 10-year anniversary of b2b luxury travel promotion and the second edition of Travelux Club. Neri tells me, “The Nebe philosophy is based on the human connection; in our world of digital virtuality, nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting.”
When asked about the planning process, she playfully replies, “It takes about nine months- it’s like a pregnancy term! There’s beauty and difficulty all at the same time.” The difficulties she is referring to are mostly logistical. The meetings, accommodation, hotel transfers, and event planning are organized entirely by Neri, her business partner Fulvio Bettini and their 11-person staff. Something always comes up; an outdoor event may have to be moved indoors or other unexpected issues. A true optimist, press officer, Giuseppe Ceccarelli adds “Sometimes we have to be creative and improvise to find solutions, but it always works out.”
By Invitation Only
Apart from an invitation to opening night at La Scala Opera House, it’s probably one of the hottest tickets in town. Only the top industry leaders and Virtuoso preferred network members are invited. Travelux Club is an exclusive, b2b meeting bringing together high-end travel industry buyers and suppliers with the aim of facilitating new partnerships and the opportunity to brainstorm new ideas for the ever-transforming luxury travel market.
From Singapore to San Francisco, an impressive 190 participants from around the globe have come to Lake Como to take part in the Travelux Club event. Although there is an emphasis on Italian and European suppliers, the guests have come from as far as North America, South America, Asia and Russia with the aim of making new business connections and finding unique ideas and destinations to propose to their clientele.
A Unique Format
Workshops are set up in a series of 15-minute appointments. Each buyer and supplier is given a set of daily appointments with the aim of matching best potential partnerships.
Carla Solari, director of communication of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio was pleased with the event management. “I’ve spoken to so many people over the phone, it’s a great opportunity to meet them in person.”
Laura Sanvito director of Lake Como Food Tours, Lecco, said “I am very happy with the appointments set for us. We are meeting top, global leaders in the industry.”
James Williams, director of sales at Culture Trip, London said, “The focused networking event opens the door on both sides of the table. The short sessions are the right amount of time to understand if you are speaking to a potential partner. What you don’t get done in the initial 15 minutes, you can do over a glass of wine at the social events.”
Not All Work
The event is more than just business networking. A gala evening, lunches, cocktail hours, a cooking class with Michelin star chefs and excursions, are carefully curated, giving all participants the chance to meet and make that human connection.
Laura Sanvito adds, “I went to the cocktail hour alone, not knowing what to expect, but everyone was so easy to talk to.”
Denese Senno of Ovation Travel, New York, enthusiastically described the fairytale arrival to Lake Como, “The Grand Hotel Tremezzo building was lit up with colored spotlights overlooking the lake. I stepped out of the coach and was left breathless. It was absolutely stunning!”
Transforming competition into collaboration
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo was just one of the local hotels taking part in the event. The Villa D’Este, Casta Diva Resort & Spa, the Palace Hotel, Hilton and Sheraton also played fundamental roles.
Gregory Bradelle director of sales and marketing of Villa D’Este, Cernobbio said, “We had the honor of hosting the event last year. Although we are competitors, so to speak, it has been a pleasure working towards a common goal with the other luxury properties here on Lake Como. First and foremost, it is important to promote our destination.”
The event was a great success for both buyers and suppliers. They will be going home with new ideas and inspiration, a stronger business portfolio and even a few new friends.
Denese Senno had clients asking about the Puglia region and she was happy to have made some good contacts with quality providers. James Williams was looking for “properties with character” and he too will be going back with some unique ideas.
Alessandro Dal Corso of the Relais & Châteaux Hôtel Villa Franceschi, Mira summed it up very nicely, “It’s the ‘small things’ like genuine friendly relationships like the ones we made in Como that is synonymous with joy and satisfaction. I strongly believe these things are priceless.”
For more information: Traveluxclub.com
See more pictures: Instagram @LakeComoStyle
Follow the author on Twitter @CeliaAbernethy