Berlin Travel Festival: Making Connections

ITB Berlin’s official partner event returns for a second year

The Berlin Travel Festival takes place for the second year at Arena Berlin from Friday, 8 March to Sunday, 10 March. We asked Bernd Neff, Co-Founder of the Berlin Travel Festival, and Dr Martin Buck, Senior Vice President Travel and Logistics, Messe Berlin, to tell us more about the concept.

Bernd Neff: The festival was created to take into account the needs and values of the next generation of travellers. Today’s travellers are more aware of their impact – on the environment, cities, communities, and cultures – than any previous generation. And their values re ect this. The new traveller seeks the kind of exchange and community that can be found in a hostel, on group trips, or at local events. They are environmentally and socially responsible. They seek out authentic experiences that generate moments of creativity and connection. At the heart of the Berlin Travel Festival, we connect like-minded consumers with brands, travel professionals with experts from other industries, and, ultimately, travellers with travellers.


Please explain the value of the partnership between the Berlin Travel Festival and ITB Berlin.

Dr. Martin Buck: The formats and focuses are different, but ultimately ITB Berlin and the Berlin Travel Festival are complementary approaches to travel today. While ITB Berlin is the world’s leading trade fair for the travel industry, the Berlin Travel Festival is primarily aimed at consumers. Together, the two events offer a rich and varied program for travel enthusiasts and industry professionals. We think that we will be able to broaden our audience significantly.

How does your festival format especially bene t trade visitors?

Bernd Neff: The festival opens on Friday with Shop Shift, a specialist conference during which experts will present future strategies for bricks-and-mortar travel retail. What will travel agencies look like in the future? What if Airbnb were to open their own travel shop? What would a mix of technology and experience look like? In order to untangle these and other fundamentally existential questions, we’ve put together a top-class panel of international experts. Furthermore, with our Creator’s Lounge, also on Friday, we’ve launched an innovative initiative to connect brands with some of the most influential content creators in Europe. Our Saturday and Sunday programs also include critical themes for anyone interested in a healthy interaction between future travel formats and sustainable business models.

Dr. Martin Buck: And on Friday, 8 March, we’re offering a shuttle service (which can be found at the south entrance) for trade visitors from ITB Berlin to the festival every 30 minutes between 12pm and 4:30 pm. That way, visitors will have the chance to maximise the bene ts of “both worlds”.


What can the visiting public and travel consumers look forward to?

Dr. Martin Buck: For ITB Berlin, the grand finale on the Sunday of the trade fair is an event visitors cannot afford to miss. It will be a spectacular show, with a large number of countries and regions presenting their cultural highlights, including this year’s partner country Malaysia and our partner country in 2020, which is Oman. Those interested in nding out about tourism jobs and studies should also pay a visit to the ITB Career Center for information on career opportunities.

Bernd Neff: At the Berlin Travel Festival, we have something for every type of adventurer – from vanlifer to couchsurfer. Our curated selection of over 150 exhibitors ranges from publications and equipment to destinations. Our program of more than 130 events includes stories from the road, recommendations for secondary city destinations, DIY workshops, screenings, and a real highlight, our Travel for a Good Cause hotel room charity auction on Saturday. We’re looking forward to celebrating International Women’s Day on Friday with an exciting program of women’s travel and female-led initiatives. We’ve also set up a special area for children and offer integrated presentations on family travel. More information can be found at

Photo: Bernd Neff Co-Founder of the Berlin Travel Festival, Dr. Martin Buck Senior Vice President Travel and Logistics, Messe Berlin