Key trends at the 2017 ITB Berlin Convention

An event preview by the convention’s Scientic Director, Prof. Dr. Roland Conrady


Date: March 8, 2017

Time: 11:00 – 1:10 am
Location: Hall 7.1b, Auditorium London

The ITB Berlin Convention is renowned as being a true “harbinger” of future trends. We asked Prof. Dr. Roland Conrady what the key trends will be at this year’s event

The role of the convention is to highlight the trends that will shape the future of our industry. This year, we have two major topics at the ITB Berlin Convention. One is “safety and security”, due to the terrorist attacks and political turmoil in different parts of the world – something that has changed tourism figures sometimes very dramatically. All in all, we have seven sessions focusing on safety and security, with an empirical study exclusively conducted for ITB, looking closely at the fears of tourists worldwide regarding destinations. Another focus is Artificial Intelligence. We are now at a turning point in AI, as we see concrete examples like the roll-out of IBM’s Watson, and numerous applications in different markets. We also think this is very relevant for the travel and tourism industry, so we are taking a closer look at what an increased use of AI might mean for our industry.

Aside from these two key topics, we are still concentrating on sustainability and CSR issues, at the ITB CSR Day and together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development we’re hosting the first ITB . The fourth topic I would like to highlight is food and beverage. We have four sessions on this topic, and we think this is also a matter of sustainability, helping destinations build a better brand.

Slovenia is this year’s Convention & Culture Partner and they are also participating quite actively in the convention. Please tell us more about that.

It’s quite interesting to see that Slovenia is not well known in the global tourism market. It’s a very small country, but when one takes a look at what they have done over the last years it is quite astonishing that they had some very impressive successes regarding the development into a “green” destination. This is something we should highlight, as sustainability is one of the core topics at ITB. On the other hand, they have done some very interesting research. For example, they have one climate change researcher who was working with Al Gore, and will be presenting her latest ndings at this year’s convention. Slovenia is thus very much at the heart of our sustainability presentations.

There are a number of keynotes this year. Which for you will be the most notable among them?

I would say the keynotes at the Future Day – on Day 1 of ITB. We will start with a keynote from John Christian Kornblum – a former US Ambassador to Germany. He will be looking at the “new world order” in this world where the industry is undergoing massive changes. With Brexit, the arrival of Trump in the US, and crisis areas in the near East, it’s a period of high uncertainty. That’s why the slogan of this year’s convention is “Disruptive travel – the end of the world… as we know it”. We think the world is in a dramatic process of change, and this keynote will look at where it’s all going. The second keynote will be by Professor Hans Uszkoreit, Scienti c Director & Head of Language Technology Lab at the German Research Center for Arti cial Intelligence (DFKI). He will be showing us just what AI is, and how it will change society and economies – particularly in the tourism industry.

Another important session will be an interview with the Vice President, Engineering, Shopping and Travel at Google. We all know how relevant Google is, but one of the core questions is, “What is the goal of Google in the future?” Many industry representatives are worried that Google is going to become an Online Travel Agency, competing with tour operators and travel agencies in the future. It will be very interesting to hear what Google’s plans are in this regard