In Venice to discover the best of Italy

10 May 2024
Written by
Sara Magro

With Elisabetta Neri, co-founder of Travelux Club

In Italy, in recent years, several events dedicated to high-end tourism have emerged, for which our country is number one in the world (source: Virtuoso Luxury Travel Report). One of the first was Travelux Club (the eighth edition will take place from 18th to 22nd March 2025), which brings the best travel agents from around the world to Venice to discover the excellence of Italian tourism and its immediate surroundings. We discuss this with Elisabetta Neri, co-founder of the event.

Can we say that you were one of the first to create a format in Italy for luxury tourism aimed at international travel agents, bringing them to experience our hospitality firsthand? When and how did it start?

Travelux Club was born in 2017, as an evolution of an existing format since 2009 dedicated to luxury tourism in the Mediterranean, previously held in Naples and then in Rome. With Fulvio Bettini, co-founder of Nebe, we understood the potential of having other clients, for example in the mountains. So, we thought of expanding the Mediterranean concept to Europe. And Travelux Club was born in Cernobbio in 2017. We had beautiful collaborations such as Villa d’Este, which hosted the event, and other hotels like the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, but soon we realized that Lake Como had logistical challenges for an event like ours. The format has always been liked and worked from the very beginning, but we had to find the right location. I live in Venice, and indeed, it is difficult to think of a better place with its top-level facilities and universal appeal. What could be more appropriate for the journey of which it is the emblem and evokes the dream? So since 2019, Travelux Club has been held in the Lagoon.

In what sense is Travelux also a Club?

This addition to the name is not a lexical quirk. We were the first to create a small, invitation-only event as an alternative to the large existing fairs. If the event’s size is reduced, there is more time to spend with the participants, and deeper relationships are formed. To be honest, this word was attributed to us by a travel agent during the Mediterranean days. He was so enthusiastic about the event that he called it a club. Since then, all NeBe appointments, such as Meet the Best and Divino, have been accompanied by the word club to emphasise their characteristics: by invitation only, limited number, and, just like in a club, the entire program is shared. Subsequently, other events with this concept have been born, but we were the first to propose it because from the beginning, we believed that valuable relationships need to be created for valuable business, an idea that refers to both people and content.

The world of tourism has changed a lot in recent years. How does Travelux follow this?

Travelux has grown numerically, although, to remain faithful to our principles, we limit ourselves to a maximum of 250 people. Over the years, we have invested in researching high-level buyers worldwide, expanding our focus to Asia. This year, 80% of the buyers were new and with high profiles, especially owners, executives, and decision-makers, i.e., the people who, in fact, influence the choices of international travellers. And most of them were affiliated with Virtuoso and Serendipians, the most important networks of high-level travel agencies.

What’s new in the latest edition last April?

This year the program was so rich that we added an extra day so that people could enjoy it without sacrificing free time. The most important innovation, in addition to a total rebranding of Nebe, is the Wellness Rooms, spaces where hotels with a vocation for well-being could demonstrate their method by offering half-hour treatments by appointment. It was a great success, and I think in the next edition, in 2025, we will organize more Wellness Rooms. We are not an event that talks about spas, but rather a high-end tourism format, for which well-being and sustainability are now essential themes.

In the next edition, we will also add small workshops on sustainability aimed at both hotels and travel agents, to understand how to prepare and support clients to travel more consciously. The format of appointments, evenings, and activities in the area remains unchanged.

What impact does the Travelux event have on Venice?

First of all, we bring 250 operators of luxury tourism to the city, host them in the beautiful hotels of the city, including those opened in the last year, and let them discover authentic gems, such as Palazzo Grimani, the agricultural island of Vignole, or the luxury footwear district on the Brenta Riviera, where all the most important brands are produced, from Dior to Yves Saint Laurent, from Fendi to Celine.

Why should a travel agent choose Italy as a destination and Travelux as an appointment?

Word of mouth works very well with us; those who have already participated recommend us to their colleagues or suggest colleagues to invite. In addition to a very accurate selection of sellers, you will find an interesting, varied, and high-level mix of people, products, and activities. In an intimate context, the iconic hotel meets the small destination yet to be discovered. The program is intense but never too stressful for participants, who have time to deepen relationships or explore the city. Venice, indeed, plays a very substantial role; it is not just any destination. The praise that is always recognized is the attention to selection and the personalized way we take care of people. Finally, last but not least, business is done, sometimes from the first meeting. Because we must not forget that the goal of these events is primarily commercial.

Future plans?

In addition to Travelux, we organise several other formats, and from this year, we begin to experiment with a more international level, outside Italy. Meet the Best, dedicated to high-end events, will be in Istanbul in January 2025. Again, the buyer turnout is very interesting: event organisation agencies and incentives, wedding, and celebration planners who meet extraordinary locations throughout Europe.

Stay up to date. Sign up to our newsletter