I arrived back from Brazil into the cold, dark London streets just a few days ago. What a change of pace from last week. My head is still flooded with memories from our first event in South America – in fact it all still feels like ‘last night’ at the moment.

It was a thrilling experience to have everyone bonding together. I’ve said it before but I have to express it once more: It is so exciting to see a group of senior travel industry executives arrive on the Sunday loosely knowing each other – and then departing on the Tuesday or Wednesday morning having made so many wonderful connections.

Brazil was a perfect destination for Connections Luxury – I’ve always felt the Connections Way is like the Latin way of doing business, where you truly get to know the person behind the product! Without the personal dimension, particularly in the travel marketplace, the process of doing business can be rather generic and quite limited.

Brazil and Connections complemented each other perfectly: Rio de Janeiro’s fun-filled, relaxed and colourful character shone through, time and again.

This was in no small part thanks to the Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro, our host hotel, where the service was equal to none. I think we all had high expectations that were both met and exceeded – there can be nothing more exacting than catering to a party of internationally experienced travel executives!

It’s no surprise to me that the hotel is ranked Number Two for customer service out of all of Hyatt Hotels.

From receiving the best massage I’ve ever had in the spa, to the attention to detail from the bar staff, it was all superb. (A special mention to Adriana, who was made sure I had everything from mosquito repellant to a beer chilled to the perfect temperature! Her attitude and measured service style was the personification of the Grand Hyatt brand.)

The Grand Hyatt team even helped us out when our journalist, Rose, asked them for ten rolls of toilet paper so we could throw an impromptu hen/stag party for Greg and Carole from travel video experts Travizeo (we played a game of Toilet Paper Bride, if you’ve ever come across it, to celebrate their upcoming wedding!)

Also responsible for showcasing the best of the Brazil was Tom from Dehouche. Even up until the night before the event, he worked tirelessly to perfect the line-up of Connections Experiences and activities to give the best flavour of Brazilian life.

For me, the Cachaca House and artist galleries in Santa Teresa were a particiular highlight. Tom, you really showcased the best of Brazil, thank you so much.

Our technology partner and sponsor, Amadeus, also brought a huge amount of interesting content to Connections Luxury in Brazil. Our partnership with Amadeus is so dear to me.

Patricia Simillon got us all thinking about our role in travel disruption management. It is one of those issues that the marketplace has to wrestle with regularly. Fundamentally it’s technology underpinning almost every aspect of the traveler journey and hearing the Amadeus view was particularly valuable.

I’m so grateful that we were all given a first look at the Amadeus report on the subject, days before it launched in Dubai. Patricia, thanks again for bringing enlightening ideas to Connections Luxury, you were fantastic.

We will be sending you all a write-up of all the insights from the roundtable discussions, which will, I hope, give you some food for thought about how you can refine some of your business’s strategies for managing travel disruption.

And I take my hat off to Jay Shetty, our keynote speaker. With some compelling examples of how social media can be used to prevent and make up for our mistakes (along with his interactive style), Jay entertained and educated the Connections Luxury delegates fully.

I was really struck by his point about how knowing the personality types of your customers – and even the team you are working with – is so crucial to managing travel disruption. Jay, thanks again for returning to Connections Luxury!

And Arnaud from CJ Executive not only supported the airport transfers for Connections Luxury, but surpassed delegates’ expectations in terms of service. Here’s a quick example. As Patricia mentioned in her closing speech, when she and Dee arrived in Rio, they talked about how they were craving caipirinhas during their travel to the Grand Hyatt.

When they arrived at the Grand Hyatt they found two caipirinhas waiting for them in the hotel’s executive lounge. The driver from CJ Executive had listened to what they needed after a long journey and Whatsapped the hotel to let staff know! A fantastic example of the collaboration between third parties that we champion at Connections Luxury. Nicely done.

Finally, thank you to our wonderful group of suppliers and buyers for attending and embracing the ethos of Connections Luxury so enthusiastically. Thank you for making the time to come to Brazil. Thank you for taking our call in the first place!

I really hope to be able to welcome you at Connections Luxury again soon – next stop, India at the Taj 26-29 March If you’d like to join us there, please just drop me an email at micaela@weareconnections.com and I’ll come back to you right away.