David Ruetz – Head of ITB Berlin – outlines what’s hot and what’s not at the show’s 2019 edition
What are the main trends in the industry as we head into ITB Berlin 2019? We put the question to David Ruetz…
Climate change and overtourism are still hot topics. The cruise market continues to expand – growing much faster than the overall market, largely due to more visitors from Asia. In the luxury market, a desire has emerged over the past few years for total exclusiveness and seclusion. This fascinates travellers now more than showing off status symbols. At the same time, visitors want more sustainable travel and to be at one with nature. These trends are all re ected in the main topics at this year’s ITB Berlin Convention.
THE TECHNOLOGY, TOURS & ACTIVITIES (TTA) SEGMENT IS NEW THIS YEAR (…)
What are the key trends with exhibitors and halls?
The Technology segment has been growing for some years now and our exhibitors re ect this trend too – especially in the eTravel World, where we will be welcoming many new customers. Also, the Adventure Travel Hall (4.1) is a real eye-catcher for our visitors. The focus here is on travellers with a lust for adventure, but also those in search of nature, culture and making contact with the locals at their destination.
What new “zones” or segments can we nd at this year’s show?
The Technology, Tours & Activities (TTA) segment is new this year, the emphasis there will be on promoting and selling in- destination 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.
You are working on “harmonising” the ITB brand. Please tell us more about this.
The success of ITB Berlin gradually inspired us to expand ITB into a global brand. ITB Asia in Singapore is already well- established. In 2019 ITB China in Shanghai will open its doors for the third time. And just this week, we have announced ITB India, which will take place in Mumbai in 2020. It is conceivable that we will have further trade shows abroad. Together they all represent a common direction. One can safely assume that exhibitors and oor space will not grow in a straight line until ITB 2066, the hundredth anniversary of the show. In our opinion, what determines growth in the mid-term is not the net display area or visitor attendance gures, but the digital processes, without which the entire customer journey that travellers experience would not be possible. That is what we are focusing on to ensure that ITB – and indeed Messe Berlin – can meet the challenges of the future.
This year, the UNWTO’s main theme is education – which is also a big theme at ITB. How is this section evolving?
As regards education and training, we are hosting our popular ITB Career Center again this year, which brings newcomers and everyone looking for new opportunities together with prospective employers and universities. Companies give brief presentations of what they have to offer, universities and technical colleges present their courses, and the employment of ce gives advice on job applications.
Can you tell us about this year’s ITB Berlin official partner destination, Malaysia, and what makes this destination so special?
The country has many sides to it, ranging from a megacity to those from the colonial era, tropical island beaches to jungle adventure. Malaysia is also steadily becoming an ecologically-oriented holiday destination with numerous nature conservation projects. With Malaysia, we were able to secure a many-faceted country as our partner, which will be represented on their stand, at the opening ceremony and the grand nale, in all its diversity. During the show, trade visitors and the public can nd out about the many products and services of this Southeast Asian country in Hall 26. Now occupying an enlarged stand, co- exhibitor numbers have more than doubled compared with last year.
Photo:David Ruetz Head of ITB Berlin