ITB 2015 is booked up

itb berlin mongolia opening

The 49th edition of ITB Berlin is booked up and once again exhibitor numbers are high. From 4 to 8 March 2015, on a display area covering 26 halls, 10,096 exhibitors from 186 countries will be offering visitors a representative overview of travel products and services from around the world and of growth-intensive niche markets. More than two-thirds of the exhibitors showcasing their products and services in the 26 halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds are from abroad.

Overall, more than 100,000 trade visitors are expected to attend the world's largest travel trade show. On the weekend members of the general public will be able to book their holidays directly with exhibitors. The focus is on Mongolia, the official partner country of the show. In Hall 26c, on an area occupying twice that of last year’s event, 30 exhibitors from Mongolia will have information about their products and services and in Hall 4.1 will be exhibiting sustainable tourism products. In a large yurt at the southern entrance to the show Mongolian hospitality awaits visitors to ITB Berlin. This year, in partnership with National Geographic and for the first time, ITB Berlin will present the World Legacy Awards in recognition of sustainable tourism projects.

According to Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH: "ITB Berlin is a strong marketplace and provides the international travel industry with an ideal platform for negotiating and doing business. In turbulent times and against the backdrop of a weak euro and uncertainty in the wake of terrorism and worldwide conflicts this is a particularly valuable and important aspect." In 2014, according to estimates by Messe Berlin, business concluded by exhibitors amounted to 6.5 billion euros. "This year we have continued to expand the already well-established ITB Buyers Circle and will be holding the first Buyer Seller Speed Dating event in an aim to give exhibitors' business an extra sales boost. Furthermore, the ITB Convention will be debating all the important industry topics. The industry's largest convention is an indispensable knowledge platform that highlights best practices as well as exclusive survey results and the latest tourism topics", Christian Göke added.

An efficient and international platform for doing business
850 buyers representing the business travel, MICE and leisure travel sectors have been accepted to join the ITB Berlin Buyers Circle. Their spending budgets are between 100,000 and over 10 million euros. Many of them are from abroad. Close to 80 per cent are from European countries and around eight per cent are from the Middle East. Seven per cent of the buyers are from North America. This year the ITB Speed Networking event will be taking place for the first time, on Thursday, 5 March 2015 in the Marshall Haus, where 300 previously registered exhibitors will be able to present their products to buyers. Every one of the available places was booked up within a single day. The exhibitors are from all parts of the world and the tourism sector, including the hospitality industry, destinations and other areas such as adventure travel.

Valuable first-hand information
The sharing economy will be a key topic at the ITB Berlin Convention, where seven events will be highlighting the challenges and the prospects for the tourism industry. The ITB Future Day will be debating the future of commercial aviation and of the online travel market. At the numerous ITB Hospitality Day sessions experts will be highlighting the security problems that hotel managers must look out for and looking at the lifestyle experience that budget and luxury hotels have to offer. This year the ITB Hospitality Day celebrates its tenth anniversary. At the ITB Destination Days Mongolia, the partner country of the show, will be highlighting the potential of market niche tourism.

The ITB Convention has now established itself as an important place for obtaining knowledge. This year’s programme features four surveys that were commissioned specifically for ITB Berlin. In an exclusive empirical survey Travelzoo and ITB Berlin investigated consumer price awareness and discovered that for 60 per cent of Germans the holiday experience took priority ahead of the cost. More than 5,000 potential interviewees in North America, China, Germany, the UK, France and Spain were asked about their holiday preferences. Results showed that among wellness tourists the holiday experience had priority, whereas price considerations more often had to do with transport. At the ITB Marketing and Distribution Day Richard Singer, managing director of Europe Travelzoo, will be commenting the findings and offering advice on how to maximise profits in the travel industry.

This exclusive empirical survey conducted by ITB Berlin and Hochschule Worms and which involved more than 1,000 interviewees shows that the main reason for looking at private rental websites such as Airbnb, wimdu and 9flats is to save money. Close to 80 per cent of the respondents said that private accommodation offered better value for money than hotels. Furthermore, around 75 per cent said the atmosphere in private accommodation was more relaxed than in a hotel. Prof. Dr. Roland Conrady, the science head of the ITB Berlin Convention and president of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Tourismuswissenschaft DGT e.V., Hochschule Worms, will be presenting these findings and other results.

Prof. Dr. Martin Lohmann, managing director, NIT New Insights for Tourism, Kiel; Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen e.V., Kiel, Leuphana University of Lüneberg, will be examining developments in tourism demand in Germany and looking towards future travel trends in 2025. Demographic change, the many options available to customers, new ways of obtaining information and decision-making behaviour will all influence demand. At the same time forecasts predict consistently high demand and stable travel patterns. Over the next ten years the basic reasons for taking holidays are unlikely to change.

At the ITB Marketing and Distribution Day Caroline Bremner, head of Travel Euromonitor International, will be speaking about the latest trends and the prospects for the sharing economy. In 2013 global private rentals amounted to 39 billion dollars. Between 2013 and 2018 this figure is expected to increase by 19 per cent, reaching 46 billion dollars in 2018. These figures include both formal rentals (such as Airbnb and HomeAway) and informal rentals such as locally organised private stays. Technical innovations such as secure online payment methods and geo-positioning applications have helped to increase their popularity. Generation Y is among the main target audiences, while more and more older people are making use of the services offered by Airbnb and Uber. In some countries legal aspects may represent an obstacle to more widespread use of the sharing economy.

Debut for the World Legacy Awards
At ITB Berlin 2015 corporate social responsibility and socially responsible tourism will again be key topics. For the first time the spotlight will be on tour operators, touring organisations and destinations that drive global change in the travel industry on the basis of sustainable tourism principles and practices. In cooperation with National Geographic ITB Berlin will be honouring the best projects by presenting the newly conceived World Legacy Awards. The awards will be presented in five categories: Earth Changers, Sense of Place, Conserving the Natural World, Engaging Communities and Destination Leadership. In Hall 4.1 (Adventure Travel & ResponsibleTourism) and at the ITB CSR Day the focus will be on the topics of sustainability and human rights. The Studiosus discussion at the international travel industry's leading think tank will be addressing an important issue, that of 'tourism in slums'. Furthermore, this year ITB Berlin is due to sign the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics. As the world's leading travel trade show ITB Berlin has campaigned for many years to embed and promote the principle of social and ecological responsibility in the international travel industry. In that context, over the years it has successfully built up the LGBT segment which is now among those expanding fastest at ITB Berlin. The Gay & Lesbian Travel Pavilion at ITB Berlin is the world's largest LGBT platform and this year will feature numerous first-time exhibitors.

Travel technology is driving the industry forward
Travel Technology is also expanding. It is one of the world's largest displays and attracts a bigger international audience than at any other show. Around 30 newcomers and more than 170 companies will be showcasing their latest products. Among those exhibiting for the first time are Baidu, a search engine from China as large as Google, and Qunar, one of the country's biggest booking platforms. In particular, Travel Technology is attracting a growing number of international exhibitors. In addition to companies from China, others from the UK (Intuitive Systems, Hotel Room Auction), Finland (Frosmo), India (Travel BPO, Moxiter), France (Flatswire) and Turkey (Yield Planet) have also secured floor space at the show. Furthermore, a number of Italian travel startups will be occupying a combined display under the heading of 'Start Up Italia'. In the age of the digital revolution there is now an increasing demand for web-based tools, across industries and individual sectors alike. In order to meet the growing need for information ITB Berlin has entered into a partnership with 'tools - Expo + Conference'. Taking as its slogan "working web-based in tourism" the tools Lounge will be showcasing web-based products that target tourism market professionals and show how business processes can be successfully digitised and automated.

Large numbers of exhibitors from Asia, South America and the Middle East
Demand by exhibitors from the Arab countries and Asia is particularly high, reflecting the growing popularity of these destinations for travellers. Iran is becoming an increasingly popular cultural destination and for the first time is occupying an entire hall (7.2a) at ITB Berlin. Halls 5.2a and b are fully booked. India is among the countries occupying an entire hall again. Afghanistan is making its return to ITB Berlin. Gilgit-Baltistan, a trekking destination in Pakistan, is a newcomer to the show. The Central Asian countries (previously in Hall 7.2a) have now moved to Hall 2.1, alongside Russia and the USA.

Brazil and Argentina, where tourism is booming, are increasingly making their way onto the market and this year are represented in larger numbers than at any previous ITB Berlin. Brazil can be found in three separate locations: in Hall 4.1 (Eco Tourism, Adventure Travel), Hall 3.1 (LGBT) and with a large combined national display in Hall 1.1. Visitors can find out more about Argentina on the country's stand in Hall 1.1 as well as in the LGBT section in Hall 3.1. Honduras is back after an absence from ITB Berlin. Exhibitors from Africa are also strongly represented in all areas at the fair.

Newcomers and new hall and stand concepts
The Turkish Village is a newcomer to Hall 3.1. In addition to the large display of Turkey, tourist boards, tour operators (including first-time exhibitors Novissima Touristic, Suay Tour and Afrodit Tour) as well as those representing the culture and wellness segments are gathered Hall 3.2. Poland has a new stand concept and in Hall 15.1 is exhibiting a concentrated display of its new products.

Around 45 exhibitors are representing the Netherlands at ITB Berlin in Hall 10.2 on a display area covering 280 square metres, larger than in any previous year. The Benelux countries can be found as one group in Hall 10.2, with Belgium, Flanders, the Netherlands, and for the first time Luxembourg, which was previously in Hall 18.

Hall 14.1 has been completely reorganised. This is where hotels, car hire companies, tour operators and many other companies from Berlin are showcasing their latest products. Hall 9, which features hotels, is all the more attractive now that, following an absence, the premium brands Hilton and Hyatt are returning to ITB Berlin. Hall 8.1 welcomes a newcomer, Meeting Masters, one of Germany's leading MICE portals, as does Hall 18, where Lidl-Reisen is represented. Verband der Fährschifffahrt, Warner Brothers und Greenland Travel are now back at the show.

Hall 11.1 focuses on careers in tourism, and with 40 exhibitors from eight countries now has an even more international appeal. Emirates Academy, and Sixt are newcomers to the show and are advising job seekers in their role as employers.