The inaugural event saw over 300 decision-makers from across 40 nationalities come together in over 4,000 one-to-one meetings. Here are our five key takeaways...

It has been two weeks since the inaugural Global Travel Week powered by Connections has brought 300 decision-makers from across 40 nationalities within luxury and leisure travel together at The Kia Oval in London, England.

During this three-day trade show, delegates met in-person to do business in the Connections Way after 18 months of very limited travel. Apart from reuniting people to resume face-to-face networking once more, Jacobs Media Group’s Global Travel Week set out to give esteemed industry professionals a platform to address the globe’s current situation on travel post-pandemic.

Many talking points covered included how the shift in traveller demand has helped resume outbound and inbound travel in a stable manner. But there are the five key takeaways we gathered from these perceptive conversations at Global Travel Week:

#1. The evolution of the travel agencies

Once known as one off the easiest ways to explore new destinations, and in recent years, the most preferable way for tourists to live out their desired travel adventures and experiences, the demand for travel agents have taken a drastic shift since the pandemic hit. During the ATAS Insight Session at Global Travel Week, Brian Young of EMEA managing director for G Adventures, said “The sector has grown massively.” He continued, “This is why this sector is growing – there’s a huge breadth of product, lots of life-changing experiences, from an 18-year-old who wants to travel through Indochina to an 80-year-old bucket-list expedition trip and every single thing in between.”

This surprising change has given way to new adventures for travellers outside of the usual summer holiday season and outside of the usual holiday destinations affected by the pandemic. According to a Travel Weekly UK article highlighting Global Travel Week’s Aspire insight Session, “more than 80% of travel agents are hearing from travellers who have never used one before, according to data from Google.”

#2. The future of sustainability in travel

As a recurring topic throughout Global Travel Weeksustainable travel was at the fore of Travel Weekly’s Insight Session on the first day of the event. In a discussion on the topic, Etoa chief executive, Tom Jenkins, stated that though sustainability is a matter of importance for the industry’s future, reviving travel in the present should be at the fore of the list in order to

However, ABTA director of industry relations, Susan Deer begged to differ, stating that business can do both. “We are focused on getting outbound and inbound travel back up and running in a more stable form,” she said and urged us to “champion those businesses and destinations that are doing sustainable travel well.”

#3. Inclusion and diversity in travel industry

In an insight session with Unity Through Tourism (UTT), tourism inclusion and diversity were also major talking points brought forth to Global Travel Week, where the panel focused their attention on inclusion within nations in Africa and the Caribbean, where locals are not as immersed in tourism as they should be in order to “link communities and tourists together”, according to speaker Marc McCollin, Barbados Tourism Marketing senior business development officer.

Carol Hay, chief executive for McKenzie Gayle Ltd. stressed the importance of creating travel “experiences that respect heritage and culture and allow travellers to differentiate experiences.” She added, “We have to be unified in tourism so communities can see the benefits. The public and private sector need to cooperate. The decision-makers and those who deliver [tourism] must be in sync.”

In agreement, Tobago Tourism Agency UK representative, Nadine Rankin, said “There are opportunities for us to help each other.”

#4. The importance of travel for well-being

Mental health and emotional well-being flowed through the meetings, experiences, informal dinners and every activity in between during this event.

Travel is a purpose and livelihood for those with an appetite for discovery and adventure.

It was evident that many of us stood in the healing process from the turmoil and traumas brought on by Covid in an industry shattered by it. Thankfully, experiences like the Mandrake Hotel’s tarot card reading and Visit Israel’s silent disco embodied what some of us needed in the moment: mental wellbeing, release and guidance. Visit Finland also contributed to the well-being of delegates during the Global Travel Week through their Morning Mindfulness experience with a certified mindful practice coach.

Luxury travel businesses worldwide have been heavily impacted in the last 18 months – especially sectors such as medical tourism – which is why our next ConnecTALKS will focus on the recovery and resurgence of our businesses with Connections’ David Benitez joined by Founder of B2B Medical Encounters, Mert Akkök. Join us on 16th November to discuss the scope of medical tourism and to explore the lucrative opportunities available to your own travel business. Register here.

#5. The power of face-to-face interactions are still needed

As expressed in the many testimonials of our delegates post-event, there is one thing that we all walked away from the event with: the realisation that while virtual events are a great way to connect and do business, nothing beats the development of long-lasting partnerships through interactive experiences and in-person connections.

Emotions, laughter and excitement ran high as we came together to rebuild leisure and luxury tourism and travel.

In an opening address to attendeesJacobs Media Group chairman, Clive Jacobs said, “I am proud to launch the inaugural Global Travel Week – powered by Connections, a brand-new annual travel trade event. Now is the time to start the rebuilding process within our industry, therefore I believe the bold timing of this launch is absolutely pivotal.”

And we couldn’t be more in agreement and more elated to join him, our partners, buyers and suppliers on this journey ahead.

Thank you all for joining us for the first of many Global Travel Week events to come. We’ll see you at Global Travel Week Middle East in 2022!

Global Travel Week 2021 was supported by the Italian National Tourist Board as Country Partner and Visit Portugal as Premier Partner.