Nino Gruettke (Executive Director - ITB Asia)

Travel and Tour World (TTW) had an exclusive conversation with Nino Gruettke, Executive Director – ITB Asia as he unveils the success story of the ITB Asia 2012.

TTW – ITB Asia 2012 closed on a high note as compared to the last year – give us an overview over the three days of successful business expansion, networking and idea development.

Nino Gruettke : As ‘The Trade Show for the Asian Travel Market’, we’re always looking forward to delivering a bigger and better show every year by attracting quality buyers and exhibitors, generating new business leads and delivering critical industry knowledge and invaluable networking opportunities for our delegates.

This year, ITB Asia 2012 was held at The Sands Expo and Convention Centerat Marina Bay Sands, which provided us with a 20 per cent increase in exhibition space. We witnessed an even higher demand from our exhibitors this year as exhibition space was completely sold out in May – five months ahead of the event. We also observed a more diversified and international range of exhibitors participating in this year’s show, representing a well-balanced mixed of travel and tourism segments from all over the world.

Aside from strengthening relationships with our existing partners from WTTC, PhoCusWright, TTG Asia Media and Web In Travel, we had three new conference partners join us for this year’s show – MCI, National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) and Panacea Publishing Asia – who brought representatives in to share innovative solutions and recommended practices of the travel and tourism industry. We also forged new partnerships with leading travel industry experts representing top brands like UNWTO, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), Asia Cruise Association (ACA), delivering over 3700 minutes of high quality content altogether.

To complement the extensive conference line-up, we also enhanced the Responsible Tourism initiative, our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative aiming to promote sustainable tourism and travel within the industry, as well as launchedFuture Leaders, an inaugural event with the objective of gathering and grooming young talent from Singapore’s top tertiary institutes for industry professionals to future-proof their businesses. Both initiatives garnered much industry awareness and positive feedback, and we are already planning to improve next year’s show with a more power-packed variety of programmes.



TTW – Brief us about the session ‘Looking into Tourism in Asia in 2030’ and give us in idea on how Asia is shaping itself up in the coming future.

Nino Gruettke : ‘Looking into Tourism in Asia in 2030’ was a panel debate session facilitated by top travel industry leaders representing our two new conference partners – World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). The session started off with an introductory address byUNWTO Director of Market Trends and Marketing Techniques, John Kester, on global and regional tourism trends through the next two decades. Based on UNWTO’s landmark Tourism Towards 2030 report, the introduction provided an overview and touched on key trends in international tourism, top tourism destinations and trends across the world, outbound tourism and much more.

The proceeding panel debate delivered insights and recommended practices on how industry and travel trade professionals can capitalize on the potential of these emerging trends and ensure steady developments in their businesses. Delegates were also given an in-depth understanding and insights of the behavioural patterns of the business and leisure traveller of 2030, as well as best practices to leverage on long term tourism trends.

This session clearly highlighted the emerging potential of the hospitality, travel and tourism sectors in Asia. According to UNWTO’s findings, international tourist arrivals are expected to surpass one billion by 2012, reaching 1.8 billion by 2030. Of these international arrivals, the APAC region alone will make up 30% of total international arrivals, an increase from 22% in 2010. Based on the findings and expertise shared at this session, we can assuredly say that the APAC region is definitely one of the growth engines driving global tourism this year.


TTW: ITB Asia’s Responsible Tourism was one of the most talked about initiatives this year – brief us on the issues discussed at the session.

Nino Gruettke : In light of the booming expansions within travel, hospitality and tourism sectors all over the world, we’re aware that it is crucial for tourism companies to start cultivating socially responsible approaches when carrying out their businesses in order to encourage tourism sustainability.I’m proud to say that we have stayed true to our commitments to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) this year at ITB Asia 2012, and we took advantage of our position as The Trade Show for the Asian Market to promote economically, socially and ecologically responsible attitudes among our delegates.

In cooperation with our partners from The Blue Yonder, Wild Asia, Green Circuit and International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP), we invited Responsible Tourism practitioners, experts and speakers from various segments of travel and tourism to share their success stories, first-hand experiences and recommended business practices through three-day Clinic sessions and a concluding two-hour forum and networking event.

During the Responsible Tourism Clinic sessions, ITB Asia delegates were allowed to engage in one-on-one sessions with experts from various fields like sustainable architecture, digital marketing and tourism management as they shared their experiences and answered questions on sustainable tourism. Our first Clinic session on Holistic Property Management was led by Andrew Jones, the Guardian and Founder of Sanctuary Resorts, a company which provides holistic, environmentally-friendly accommodation space in their hotels. The following session led by Raj Gyawali, the Founder Director of Social Tours, focused on Responsible Tourism Reporting, while Ajay Jain from Kunzum Travel Café continued the Responsible Tourism Clinics with a session titled Practical Applications of Social Media to Increase Profit in Business. The final session, Tourism is a tool for Conversation, was facilitated by Raj Basu, a spokesperson representing the support of conversation through tourism methods.

On the last day of ITB Asia, the concluding two-hour Responsible Tourism Forum and Networking event also featured guest speakers from The Blue Yonder Associates, ICTP, and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council as they shared case studies and accounts of people who have made significant differences in sustainable tourism. The event also showcased winners of Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Awards 2012 so to acknowledge and further encourage tourism companies for implementing positive environmental practises in their businesses.

TTW: ITB Asia added four new conferences to highlight regional tourism trends this year – how successful and significant were these new additions for the participants and exhibitors at the show?

Nino Gruettke : Our key position as the leading travel trade show in the APAC region has allowed us to better witness and observes the tremendous growth within the region’s travel and tourism markets. As such, we make it a priority to anticipate trends and prepare for any potential opportunities and challenges that may strike the industry by ensuring that our conference content is always high-quality and relevant to the times. This is advantageous for our delegates as it keeps them at the forefront of industry developments and allows them to make more informed decisions as they manage their businesses.

With this in mind, the four new conferences added to ITB Asia this year were aimed to enhance the already powerful line-up of conference programmes. Following the keynote speech from Horst Schulz, President & CEO of Capella Hotels, on his insights regardingThe Global Hospitality Industry Today and Tomorrow, we had planned for a panel discussion session addressing Luxury Retailers vs Luxury Hoteliers. With speakers representing prominent brands like Capella Hotels, LVMH and Hilton Worldwide’s Waldorf Astoria and Conrad brands, the session was set to discuss the flourishing relationship between luxury retail and hospitality markets, which would be beneficial for delegates in the business who are keen to explore potential collaborations and new business leads.

The next conference session on GBTA: Corporate Travel Update from China discussed recent research findings and developments in the Chinese corporate travel market and economy, which would be useful and advantageous for industry professionals seeking to manage or start travel and tourism businesses in a rapidly booming travel market like China. There have also been recent developments observed within the cruise industry in the region. To leverage on this trend, we introduced our first in-depth panel discussion titled Asia Cruise Association Panel session: Navigating the Cruise Industry Towards Greater Profits aiming to provide our delegates with more than sufficient information, perspectives and insights on managing a lucrative cruise business. Prospectives interested in the industry were also provided with training sessions facilitated by the Asia Cruise Association (ACA), a leading company dedicated to cruise industry developments in the region. The final conference session on Building a More Collaborative Relationship Between Buyers & Vendorsaddressed key aspects of fostering successful and beneficial relationships between travel buyers and suppliers.

With top industry leaders and professionals addressing and facilitating these conferences, I believe these sessions were useful and beneficial for delegates who were looking to gain more insight on such regional tourism trends and plan for their businesses.

TTW: How valuable was the new strategic initiative, The ‘Future Leaders’ for the young and brightest talents to formulate talent management policies?

Nino Gruettke : During the conceptualization and planning process for Future Leaders, our objective was, foremost, to provide our partners and other industry professionals with the access to some of the brightest hospitality, tourism and travel students and offer them numerous opportunities to network and spot potential talent who will be appropriate for their company. With the rapid expansions in the travel and tourism industry, it is vital for companies to attract and retain the best talent in order to adapt and thrive.

Launched in response to the industry’s growing manpower needs, we wanted to encourage the knowledge-sharing sessions so that these industry leaders would be able to startsecuring the next generation of talent for their businesses upon interacting, grooming and mentoring these students. These enthusiastic students gathered from the top of their respective schools also stood to benefit from the inaugural event as networking with industry and university executives gave them a head start in securing potential internships, employment and scholarships for their careers.

With support from our event partners, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and The Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS), we were able to execute a half-day’s worth of engaging programmes filled with interactive activities, panel discussions, and break-out discussion groups for the students and our industry partners to interact and work together. Participating in a variety of hands-on activities with these students would allow industry partners and executives to better understand their key roles as leaders and mentors, and the importance of their influence when grooming these students for higher education and career opportunities. Through these first-hand experience and accounts, they would be able to plan and make informed decisions when formulating talent management policies that would benefit their businesses.

Our Feature Leadersdebut received a good turnout, positive feedback and much industry recognition from our participating partners, institutions and delegates. I’m proud to say that we have Future Leaders attendees who have already announced their keen interest to participate in the event again in next year’s show, evidence of the immense potential of our talent-grooming initiative. We aim to build on this year’s successful programmes and assemble an even better Future Leaders event next year.

TTW: Messe Berlin has announced that its 2013 event is set to be even bigger and better – what are you planning to make the event bigger?

Nino Gruettke : As The Trade Show of the Asian Travel Market, we welcome the responsibility to be well-informed and up-to-date with travel-tourism trends in the region so that we can put together relevant conference programmes to keep ITB Asia delegates connected with industry developments. Having witnessed a noteworthy growth in terms of exhibitors, quality buyers, trade delegates, conference partners, and conference programmes in this year’s show, we’re anticipating an even more power-packed event in 2013 with more high-quality conference content, leading industry speakers and valuable partnerships to further establish our reputation as a knowledge platform.

As of now, we have plans in the pipeline to further expand ITB Asia 2013 by taking up two floors of exhibition spacewhen we return to the newly refurbished Suntec Convention Centre next year.Our aim is to provide our visitors with the best of the world’s travel and tourism insights, knowledge and networking opportunities within three days of their visit at ITB Asia, so having the flexibility to expand the second trade show floor will give us more floor space for us to assemble and plan for new workshops, seminars, conferences and exhibition space. Also, as we have highlighted and witnessed the enormous potential of our youth-centric Future Leaders initiative in its debut during this year’s show, we’re planning to bring it back in ITB Asia 2013 with more activities, panel discussions and strategic programmes specially devised to groom Singapore’s young talent and connect them with industry professionals.

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