Further East has come out of left field and given international luxury travel buyers a relaxed B2B marketplace to discover unconventional Asian products in its inaugural edition, and will return to the same beachfront venues in Bali’s Seminyak but on a larger scale.
A departure from typical industry events
Yesterday, the debuting trade event concluded to generally positive reception, with a section of buyers and sellers swept off their (nearly bare) feet by the relaxed beachside setting as well as ample time for networking and doing business.
Over three days, the exhibition took place across two adjacent indoor spaces by the water in Alila Seminyak, which also provided the locations for lunch, sundowners, parties and networking. Lunch was available at W Bali and Potato Head Beach Club as well, both a short stroll down the beach from the exhibition venue.
“The ability for attendees to walk from accommodation to marketplace, lunch and other activities has provided additional opportunities to network. Attendees are not under pressure to fit everything into their schedules because of the global village feel,” said Jemma Uglow, head of Further East.
How can it scale?
With the event by Beyond Luxury generating considerable interest, a question some industry players now have is how the event will scale – both in terms of exhibition space, as well as the intimate appeal.
Addressing the latter, Serge Dive, CEO of Beyond Luxury, said: “The rule we have is: you can always grow something until you dilute the spirit of the community. As long as we find a way to nourish this spirit, while creating opportunities for greater interaction, we are good. Over 1,000 people including 400 exhibitors attend Pure (another Beyond Luxury show), but it’s an equally tight community there.
“We will definitely grow Further East. We aim to run the 200 mark for exhibitors next year. There will be more products and more interactions, which will help build a stronger community,” Dive continued.
The exhibition venue at Alila Seminyak housed 130 stands this year, although the exhibitor count was at 160 due to some suppliers sharing booth space, Uglow shared.
Buyer Vikram Kajaria of Makson Travels said: “The event is creating huge interest. It does not look like they can pack more exhibitors in the existing spaces, but I’m eager to see how they will utilise their venues next year.”
It remains to be seen how the same venues could find capacity as the show grows, but Dive had this to say: “We found long-lasting friendships with partners such as Alila and Potato Head who want (to go above and beyond) to support our shared mission… With Alila, it’s about how much they have let us create a playground (with different spaces).”
At this year’s event, international attendees formed most (65 per cent) of the 140 buyers, with the remaining made up by buyers from Asia. Dive shared that there will be even more buyers from beyond the region next year.
He added: “There will be more international next year. It’s not that the exhibitors are not interested in regional business, but they have the budget to do more trips within the region to meet buyers. On the other hand, having longhaul buyers gather here saves exhibitors a trip around the world.”
How fruitful was it, really?
Dive has said before that the company is “in the dating and falling in love business”, but has its matchmaking panned out for Further East attendees?
One exhibitor, who already attends other Beyond Luxury shows and targets mainly European and American buyers, remarked that he was “seeing the same faces”, and that sourcing of more suitable high-end Asian buyers could be better done.
In response, Dive stressed that the buyer overlap with a show like Pure was minuscule at “about 3.5 per cent”. Fifteen buyer companies at Further East were also represented at other Beyond Luxury shows, he said, but taking into account the buyers who were “not looking for Asian products” while at Pure, it was effectively an overlap of just five.
Meanwhile, a buyer shared that he had meetings with three boat companies allocated to him in a single day, but such products weren’t suited to his market. Still, he admitted that the allocation was from a preliminary round of matchmaking. “(Besides), given how fast the luxury market is developing, a client (may well) come along for a request for boating in Indonesia the next day and I’ll be able to make a recommendation.”
Another buyer, David Kevan of Chic Locations, which brings higher-end travellers from the UK to destinations including Asia, said: “The feedback I’ve been getting is it’d be silly not to (keep the show going). I have found a few (properties) that I’ve not heard about before. My wife and associate is already (doing some property inspection) as we talk.”