AS ITB Berlin gears up to open doors from March 6-10, 2013 at connect the travel industry, David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin speaks to TTN about new markets and new travel trends.
How are bookings looking for 2013, are figures up or down on last year?
We are currently registering some late booking exhibitors and we still have waiting lists. Compared with 2012 the number of bookings at ITB Berlin 2013 has remained consistently high. The outlook for this year´s show is positive: Despite the difficult economic situation ITB Berlin is still a place where the global trade industry can do good business. The whole variety of travelling will be present: Destinations, tour operators, booking systems, carriers, hotels and all other suppliers. The markets in South America, Asia and the Middle East are displaying particularly strong growth, and a substantial number of exhibitors from these regions will be present at this year´s show.
Travel Technology in Halls 6.1, 8.1 and 10.1 has been booked up since December 2012. Newcomers and regular exhibitors in the Mobile Travel and Social Media sections are presenting their innovations and new products in Hall 7.1c. At this year’s eTravelWorld experts are again debating industry topics from a variety of angles. Among the subjects are “The opportunities and risks of the social web for the travel industry“ and ”More efficient travel using eTravel, navigation and mobile travel guides.“ Due to the high number of bookings hotel portals are also exhibiting in Hall 25.
You’ve already announced a high demand from the Middle East, Asia and South America markets. What percentage of exhibitors do they contribute and what do you attribute this growth to?
It is due to the geographical structure of the show and the fact that ITB Berlin already fills all of its 26 halls that we can´t accommodate the entire demand of exhibitors from the Middle East, Asia and South America. Therefore, percentages and numbers of growth from these regions wouldn´t have much significance.
But why do we see such a demand from these regions at ITB Berlin? Growth in the global tourism industry mainly comes from the Bric countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and other developing countries. Significant income growth in countries such as China and India and the emergence of a new middle class in almost every Bric country has sparked a desire to travel which prevails in times of crisis. ITB Berlin as the market place of the global travel industry is a mirror of this development.
What exhibitors will make its debut at ITB 2013?
More than 180 countries and regions exhibit at ITB Berlin every year. As a consequence most countries already have been here. Newcomers to the show this year is South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011 and is represented alongside other African countries. Yemen is back after an absence from ITB Berlin. Visitors will truly get the full picture of the global tourism industry in Berlin.
Together with UNWTO ITB Berlin will be paying special attention to the development of tourism along the Silk Road. Following its successful launch last year a second edition of the Silk Road Ministers‘ Meeting is taking place on March 6, 2013. In Hall 7.2.b Azerbaijan, the Convention and Culture Partner of ITB, has information about the natural beauty as well as on developments along the famous Silk Road.
Seven of the ten countries bordering the Danube are joining forces at ITB Berlin 2013 with a common goal in mind, that of drawing visitors’ attention to this region. Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Serbia are providing information on the various aspects and diversity of this tourism region which shares many national borders.
The focus is of course on Indonesia, the partner country of ITB Berlin, which is occupying a much larger display area in hall 26 and is in addition represented in Hall 4.1, where visitors can also watch colourful stage events.
What is the tourism growth outlook for Europe in the year to come?
In Europe, the effects of the economic situation on the continent’s tourism industry are wide-ranging, but the overall trend remains positive. Overall, the ITB World Travel Trends Report predicts a moderate increase in European outbound travel of around one to two per cent. Only one-third of Europeans said the recession would affect their travel plans in 2013. 28 per cent of Europeans said they wanted to travel more in 2013. Germany is intent on defending its title as the world’s most travelled nation. The latest studies forecast consistent and high demand.
Tell us more about this year’s seminar programmes and speakers.
Over the three days of the event, numerous lectures, discussions and the highlighting of best practices will give trade visitors the edge in terms of expert knowledge. Let me just give a few examples: The topics to be discussed at the ITB Future Day will include changes in consumer behaviour and travel patterns, the challenges posed by climate change and the prospects for information technology. Following the successful launch of the format in 2012, the Cruise Panel will highlight developments in the cruise industry. The keynote will be held by Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of the European Cruise Council and of Silversea Cruises. Dr. Temel Kotil, CEO of Turkish Airlines, will talk about the prospects of commercial aviation and the role of Turkish Airlines.
At a time when smartphone ownership has outstripped that of stationary PCs, young travellers and new ideas are transforming the world. The ITB Hospitality Day will focus on these new, dynamic and unconventional developments. In his keynote, Claus Sendlinger, CEO, Design Hotels will talk about the hotels of tomorrow and the principle of “The Neighbourhood Principle”. Afterwards, experts will engage in a discussion with young people about their demands on travel and hotels.
Azerbaijan will be featuring prominently at the ITB Berlin. As the Convention and Culture Partner of ITB Berlin 2013 the country situated on the Caspian Sea will be showcasing its diversity at the show. As part of the ITB Berlin Convention a discussion round featuring leading panel guests will be talking about Azerbaijan’s rich cultural treasures and the country’s prospects for tourism.
What new initiatives can visitors and exhibitors expect to see at this year’s event?
For the first time ITB Berlin will feature a matchmaking event, from 4.30 to 6 pm on March 7 and 8 in Hall 7.3, directly adjacent to the ITB Berlin Convention, that will give 100 exhibitors an opportunity to meet the same number of international bloggers. The travel bloggers represent a variety of sectors such as adventure, luxury and family travel. This free service by ITB Berlin is aimed at helping exhibitors to improve their marketing of destinations and products.
For the duration of ITB Berlin the main meeting place for bloggers and visitors involved with new media will be Hall 7.1c, where at the eTravel World the focus will be on social media and mobile travel services.
The Professional Travel Bloggers Association (PTBA) will be partnering with ITB Berlin to help showcase leading travel bloggers around the world and encourage partnerships between them and industry members in attendance. Michael Hodson and Ayngelina Brogan, two travel bloggers integral to the formation of the association, will be speaking at eTravel World on the topic of “Finding and Working with Travel Bloggers.” They will also highlight the excellent search engine provided by the PTBA to industry members to find travel bloggers to work with. The Association will be providing all exhibitors at ITB Berlin 2013 free access to the search engine for the first two weeks of March, so they can explore its benefits.
The aim of these and many more events is to provide destinations and companies involved in the travel industry with valuable ideas on how to exploit blogging as a successful marketing channel.
What is new on the Social Media front at ITB2013?
Social Media will be discussed in all segments of the show. The ITB Berlin Convention will also be providing numerous ideas on how to confront future challenges. On March 8, 2013 at the ITB Marketing and Distribution Day the topics discussed will be online reputations and the return on investment from mobile marketing and social media. Nicolas Georges Trad of the Reputation Institute, one of the world’s leading reputation management consultancies, will reveal the findings of the latest global survey with Forbes Magazine on national images and will provide recommendations on how destinations can improve their image. Jesko Perrey, division head of Marketing and Sales, McKinsey, will talk about the worst failings of corporate marketing and communications management and where the major problems lie in determining the return on investment from spending on social media and mobile marketing. The Innovation Forum will showcase new developments in the travel industry that have the potential to change market structures in the long term.
ITB Berlin gathers reports and videos on the ITB Berlin Convention and the eTravel World in the social media newsroom under www.itb-berlin.com.
What are the new travel trends you expect to see emerge in 2013?
Today, travel trends are long term trends. Travel behaviour is constantly changing towards authentic travel experiences. The most important question from the booking and a marketing point of view used to be “Where are you travelling to?” Nowadays the emphasis is on an individual holiday experience and so from a marketing perspective tour operator’s focus on a customer’s reasons for travelling. The bottom line question is “what kind of holiday experience do you want?” Visits to attractions are still an important part of vacationing. However, custom travel packages which include meeting people at destinations are now more and more in demand.
Generally speaking, tourism product diversification will continue to advance. Due to demographics offers for the over fifties and sixties will become more important. We also see a rising interest in short trips and city breaks as well as in activity holidays.