Bernd Neff, the co-founder and managing director of the Berlin Travel Festival in an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World gives an overview how the post COVID-19 time has changed the tourism industry and how this festival will boost future global travel.
Travel And Tour World: What are the changes you have seen in post COVID-19 time in travel, tourism and MICE industry?
Bernd Neff: I think that it is still too early to know what travel, tourism and the MICE industry will look like “post COVID”. For now, we can only take guesses and develop different scenarios regarding this topic. Maybe people will only travel to their near surroundings, maybe they will have a stronger desire to visit the most remote and distant places than ever before. Maybe the actual future will lie somewhere in the middle between those two extremes.
But I am sure that since the tourism industry has been disrupted like never before, it is very important to take an early look at these various possible outcomes and what they will mean in terms of priorities, security needs, sustainability and other considerations. This crisis has the chance to fuel innovation if we find a way to turn the current challenges into new opportunities and work on innovative strategies together.
Travel And Tour World: What will be the main focus of “We Love Travel!”?
Bernd Neff: Our main goal is to offer the entire tourism industry as well as media representatives and travelers a platform to meet and (re-) connect again after the crisis and tackle the road to recovery together. On the one hand, we want to look back and give an initial assessment of events. On the other hand, we also want to look forward and gain inspiration for new ideas. We Love Travel! is also supposed to provide a platform for an open and constructive discussion on what the future of travel may look like after this disruption.
Travel And Tour World: What are the topics you will discuss at “We Love Travel!”?
Bernd Neff: The agenda of We Love Travel! features exhibition areas, networking formats, presentations and discussion panels which will depict a variety of topics. The program of the first day of our tourism recovery pop-up is curated by ITB Berlin and will focus on relevant subjects for a B2B audience such as the travel business of the future or sustainable innovation and transformation in tourism. On Saturday and Sunday, the program will be designed by Berlin Travel Festival and target the interests of consumers and travelers. We will inform about the changes and new requirements that impact travelling for example. But we will also hear stories from fellow travelers and adventurers from the Berlin Travel Festival community and learn from them in Workshops, Master Classes and DIY sessions.
Travel And Tour World: Do you think that “We Love Travel!” will regenerate Europe’s travel and tourism industry?
Bernd Neff: That is our hope at least! We are of the opinion that now is not the time to give up. Instead, we should all use this period to re-consider our business, find new partners and target new markets. Both the Berlin Travel Festival as well as the ITB Berlin are keen on inspiring the different industry members and give the necessary impulses to kick-start the recovery process.
Travel And Tour World: What are the challenges you are facing to organize this event?
Bernd Neff: The parameters for our tourism pop up are anything but static. In fact, there are a lot of unpredictabilities that we have to consider during the entire planning process. Our entire event sort of reflects the current zeitgeist in the (travel) world. Because: The only thing certain at the moment is that nothing is really certain. We are meeting this challenge with a maximum of flexibility and openness. But the safety and health of all participants is, of course, our top priority. Therefore, we are in close contact with the authorities at all times, are constantly monitoring developments and are working on a comprehensive concept for hygiene rules and safety measures. In addition to this, we have come up with a hybrid event concept, meaning that we will combine in-person and virtual formats. This way, visitors can participate both in person and in a virtual space. Our exhibitors also have the option of presenting themselves in person and in digital form.