David Ruetz – Head of ITB Berlin – gives us a foretaste of what we’ll discover at this year’s big event
This year at ITB Berlin, visitors will find a number of new segments and activities. We asked David Ruetz to tell us about them.
The Technology, Tours & Activities (TTA) segment is new this year, the emphasis there will be on promoting and selling indestination services. Both major players and small start-ups will be able to present their innovative products at the new exhibition and meeting area in hall 4.1. The technology of our ITB Virtual Reality Lab in Hall 10.2 is bound to fascinate visitors too. This is where top-speakers will give exciting insights into the importance of augmented and virtual reality for the travel industry. Using interactive VR goggles they can experience exotic destinations almost as if they were there.
IN 2019 IT IS NOT JUST THE BIG PLAYERS THAT WILL BE REPRESENTED, BUT NUMEROUS UP-AND-COMING START-UPS AS WELL
What trends are you noting with regard to attendance figures?
As regards exhibitors, in addition to a growing number of technology customers we are welcoming more and more companies from the booming Asian market and China. Thus in 2019 it is not just the big players that will be represented, but numerous upand- coming start-ups as well. As far as visitors are concerned we look forward to stable attendance figures. What is noticeable is that the show attracts many trade visitors to the capital before it opens on Wednesday. Many of them arrive on Tuesday or even Monday and take the opportunity to hold early meetings as well as trade and press events to do with the show.
What are ITB’s “KPIs”?
For more than 50 years ITB Berlin has mirrored the entire value chain of the tourism industry and provided a valuable boost for new business ideas. The show is the ideal place for productive networking, it offers the best possible marketing opportunities, and it reflects the latest trends and topics. For exhibitors and visitors, the three core services it offers by which success can be tangibly measured are “content, contacts and commerce.” We are also delighted to see the return of Luxury Travel brands to ITB such as Shangri-La, after a few years of absence.
What’s the hardest thing about making a show like this a big success, and on the other hand, what gives you the greatest satisfaction?
Many trade shows have come under certain pressure from digitalisation and are being confronted with a decline in visitor numbers. We are delighted to be able to say that, as a concept, trade shows retain a high standing within the travel industry and that in the age of video conferences and Skype meetings our visitor numbers remain stable. There is still no substitute for face-to-face meetings. At the same time technology and the digital world are our strongest growth segments, ones we will be increasingly focusing on in the future. A proper handshake and a booming tech segment literally go hand in hand.
In a few words, how might one sum up ITB Berlin?
For me, ITB Berlin is this sector’s biggest family meeting. We are all motivated by a desire for personal encounters, for authenticity and honesty. As an open marketplace, we bring supply and demand together. I am repeatedly impressed by the solidarity that is in evidence here. All countries and operators, including those stricken by crises, are welcome here, and all of them will be treated with respect. In tourism terms, and geopolitically, everyone is living in very uncertain times. We therefore need inspiration and contact, in order to be able to face the future with hope. This ITB Berlin is really decisive – get the facts here, and be inspired. The character of the innovations has changed, and nowadays they tend to be apparent more in the processes than in the products of the travel industry. ITB Berlin has expanded along with the destinations, and today experts congregate here from all over the world and from the entire added value chain of tourism. Our main task is to take some of the complexity out of the world’s largest travel trade fair, and to reveal the phenomena that can be seen in the tourism firmament.
Photo: David Ruetz, Head of ITB Berlin