It is without doubt that our latest event, hosted in partnership with the exceptional Visit California team, was a game changer. We had the privilege of bringing Connections to a first-of-its-kind event in the United States, and specifically, to California and beautiful Santa Monica. We couldn’t imagine a better way to debut the annual Connections California event, a time dedicated to driving demand and inspiration for the golden state.
Key to the event was a session delivered by Caroline Beteta, President & CEO of Visit California. Through brand advertising, airline partnerships and a renewed focus on emerging markets, Visit California is strategically targeting travellers on a global scale to make California top of mind. And they are doing well: the state has seen eight years of record growth in tourism and is currently the number one travel destination in the USA.
Today, Visit California is making big strides towards positioning itself at the forefront of luxury travellers’ minds, with this inaugural event playing a pivotal part in gaining valuable insight on how best to package the state’s offering for the luxury travel market. While the luxury traveller represents 5% of the trips made to California, this equates to 13% of the spending – so there’s no wonder why California is becoming established as the ‘Golden State of Luxury’.
Further insights were shared during our ConnecTalk with Euromonitor International, presented by analyst Lorna Hennelly, and it’s clear that all things experiential in the luxury and travel industries is only increasing. Experiential luxury in the USA has grown by 4% from 2013-18, and the global luxury sector has exceeded US$53 Billion in 2018.
It is for these reasons a hand-picked selection of the world’s leading luxury buyers met with the region’s finest high-end product and Destination Management Organizations to discover new business opportunities and forge new partnerships – in true Californian style.
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, our destination partner, were the incredible minds behind the programme’s memorable experiences which represented a blend of its natural beauty, award-winning dining and lively cultural scene. From enjoying the heights of the Pacific Wheel, sampling incredible cuisine by celebrity chef Govind Armstrong to learning how to breathe like a freediver with Aqua Surf and experiencing a private dinner at the Getty Villa, Connections California was truly reflective of the destination’s enduring appeal for the luxury traveller.
It has been a remarkable event and a resounding success – with bookings already made, partnerships in process and conversations ongoing. I can’t thank Visit California, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism and all our sponsors enough for their contribution to the first Connections California event. A special thank you however must go to Pure Luxury Transportation for your seamless VIP service, and our four incomparable and exceptional host hotels: Casa Del Mar, Hotel by the Sea, Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Shutters on the Beach.
I leave with you just a few of the kind words said about Connections California 2019. Here’s to next year!
“I just want to say thank you one more time. The experience was wonderful and I’m already working with Becky from Visit Napa Valley for a 100-person birthday party in October. I also came home and booked the Inn at Pelican Hill from Newport Beach meeting and I’m also placing clients at either Caramel Valley Ranch or Post Ranch Inn. We also contacted Duvine cycling. So, thank you!!!”
Randi Wexlor Dukoff, Travel Well Be Well
“I just wanted to send my thanks to you and the rest of the team at connections for such an interesting and memorable event over in California. The organisation was first class and your team did a wonderful job from start to finish. The level of buyer along with supplier was just perfect, I certainly made a tremendous amount of new contacts to which I believe we will do some great business with. You have certainly, gained an ambassador for your fantastic concept.”
Richard Lewis, Insignia
“I truly appreciated all the personal attention to make sure that I experienced the full value of the event. From the White Party, the experiences, meeting qualified planners, to the beautiful location, I will always remember what I great time I had meeting very important clients.
I was very impressed with the Connections California show and look forward to future opportunities to participate with you.”
Cynthia Ordyke, The Westin Anaheim Resort