ITB Berlin 2019: a new dynamic

Exclusive Interview: Dr Martin Buck, Senior Vice President Travel & Logistics, Messe Berlin

We sat down with Dr Martin Buck, Senior Vice President Travel & Logistics, Messe Berlin and asked him how the show has gone this year.

One of the highlights that impressed me most was the introduction of the new segment, Technology, Tours and Activities, because this is actually the last part of the travel value chain that has not yet been digitalised. And now we see strong dynamics for doing this. This was an important part of our convention this year, especially in the eTravel World. What makes me very proud is that we obviously had perfect timing there – that we succeeded in “smelling” what’s going on, and this has been con rmed by the excellent feedback we have had. The presentations found a huge following, and were quite crowded. We also managed to acquire around 50 new exhibitors in Hall 4.1, and the hall was really buzzing. I was very happy that the ITB team had the right instinct with this. The second thing I like very much is having the big guys from the online travel industry, like Stephen Kaufer from TripAdvisor, or Mark Okerstrom from Expedia giving their presentations, as they are not only entertaining, but they really have something to say. It has been very important for us to establish the CityCube Berlin as the centre for our convention for the rst time. Its capacity is double the size of what we had before in Hall 7.1. It was a big risk, but proof of concept has been delivered. The third thing is the establishment of our show in April 2020 in Mumbai, India. The idea has been there for a while, because it’s such a big market. In Asia, following the success of our show in China, this is the only big source market we had not been covering directly. Bringing the Indian buyers to Singapore or Shanghai was difficult for several reasons, and once again, the natural law of the trade show business has confirmed itself: the marketplace has to take place where the demand is. So, if the demand is in China, you have to be in China. If the demand is in India, you have to be in India. It’s always nice if you make the announcement and two days later you have the rst bookings. I am happy about the dynamics we are producing at the moment and the shows we are doing abroad. The big challenge that remains is the digital challenge – how well we will do with ITB.com.

THE MARKETPLACE HAS TO TAKE PLACE WHERE THE DEMAND IS

Next year’s ITB Berlin official partner country is Oman. I know that many countries are in the running each time. Why did you choose Oman?

Just like our partner country this year, Malaysia, Oman is an absolutely wonderful country, but compared to Malaysia, it’s the total absence of jungle and the strong presence of desert. Oman has a very deep history. It is not only a beach destination or one for those who want to visit the desert, it is one where one can learn a lot about human history, as it is a kind of ‘interface’ between the oriental and the occidental worlds, and has been so for thousands of years.

It seems like there were even more places this year where presentations were taking place in addition to the ITB Berlin Convention. Was this the case?

Indeed, in addition to the CityCube, we had the eTravel World, Hall 4.1 – the adventure hall with two stage areas, Hall 11 with the universities, and the next big thing will be virtual reality… having started a comparatively small VR lab in Hall 10.2 which will no doubt grow… and AR will also be the next big thing for NGOs. The know-how and best practices are coming from the gaming world.

What has feedback been like from exhibitors this year?

I believe most of the exhibitors were very happy. I also had the feeling the atmosphere this year was very good. Weather was not too good – going back and forth between rain and sun.


Photo: Dr Martin Buck Senior Vice President Travel & Logistics, Messe Berlin