Ms. Katrina Leung

As the world travel industry starts to shift its focus on Singapore, Travel And Tour World speaks to Ms. Katrina Leung, the Executive Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), the organisers of ITB Asia, regarding various aspects of the event and the Asia Pacific travel market.

Travel And Tour World – The eighth edition of ITB Asia is already creating a huge buzz in the world travel industry. What would be the most imperative aspect of ITB Asia 2015 according to the Executive Event Director?

Ms. Katrina Leung: ITB Asia has become a must-attend event as we continue to forge partnerships and connect our delegates to hundreds of companies from all segments of the travel industry across the world. We are always looking for ways to grow our conference programme and provide the latest information on business opportunities and upcoming trends.

Our programme this year will feature a wide variety of industry pioneers, ready to share their insights and discuss the latest trends in the travel industry. This high level knowledge-exchange will begin with our keynote panels including spokespersons from companies such as Ctrip, Expedia, TripAdvisor and Uber. Moderated by PhoCusWright founder and industry veteran Philip Wolf, they will discuss the latest travel trends, share valuable insights and provide a holistic view of the entire travel industry.




Travel And Tour World – Would you like to share some of the challenges you came across in the initial days?

Ms. Katrina Leung: Each year, we aim to bring the latest and most pertinent insights about the travel industry to keep our delegates at the forefront of the industry. As the industry continues to evolve and develop, we need to be on the ball to respond to new developments and identify relevant trends to bring the most useful content to our delegates. That’s our key challenge and mandate each year. Our exhibitors and partners including the Singapore Tourism Board have been very supportive, enabling us to continue to bring the best content to the show year after year.



Travel And Tour World: The Asian travel market is the most lucrative market in terms of business tourism and luxury travel – How ITB Asia becomes a decisive platform for this emerging sector?

Ms. Katrina Leung: Over the past decade, Asia Pacific has become one of the largest travel regions in the world bringing about many opportunities particularly within the business tourism and luxury travel segments.

We have strengthened our partnership with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) to provide delegates with our most comprehensive business-focused programme to-date. This programme offers an overview of the economic opportunities in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). The latest results of GBTA’s Business Travel Sentiment IndexTM created in partnership with American Express will also provide insights into how business travellers feel about their travel experiences and how it affects their behaviour.

This year, we have also inked a collaboration with DestinationElite to organise the show’s inaugural ‘Luxury and Travel Forum’, addressing trends in the premium travel and hospitality sector. This partnership will shine a spotlight on this lucrative market, creating an offline platform for buyers, exhibitors and luxury travel specialists to engage and form new networks and partnerships.



Travel And Tour World: Do you think the recent Chinese stock market crash will affect the trend of Chinese outbound travel? How will the partnership with COTRI assist the idea of revival?

Ms. Katrina Leung: The recent stock market crash could have an impact on Chinese tourists’ travel destinations as well as spending power. However, according to the Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), 62 million Chinese crossed the border in the first half of 2015 and the trend is set to continue.

The COTRI conference will not be going ahead due to recent developments that have impacted COTRI’s plans and schedule surrounding the workshop. However, we have a number of other sessions lined up that will allow delegates to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese travellers. Attendees will be able to listen to industry leaders from leading companies like Tuniu and Ctrip during our keynote sessions on the first and second day of the show, as they share insights on ideas and strategies that drive growth for their businesses with the booming Chinese travel market. At the ITB Asia – TravelDaily China session on the same day, delegates can also learn more about China’s growing importance to the world travel and tourism industry, as they remain the largest source market for outbound travel with over 109 million Chinese travelling overseas in 2014.



Travel And Tour World: ITB Asia is not only a platform to conduct travel business but also provides a podium to network and share knowledge – How will the 2015 edition justify the reputation of the event?

Ms. Katrina Leung: ITB Asia’s growing reputation in the travel industry has allowed us to attract quality exhibitors, and we could not have achieved this level of success without the strong support of our ever-growing pool of exhibitors and partners. Just like previous years, our show provides a valuable platform for all attendees to network and seek new business opportunities.

This year’s edition features the strongest line-up of speakers to date, leveraging on key partnerships with industry leaders, including Centre for Aviation (CAPA), the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and K.I.T Group. At our keynote session, delegates can expect to gain an in-depth understanding of global travel trends, challenges and opportunities from Dr. Michael Frenzel, Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). With many industry professionals congregating at ITB Asia 2015, attendees have a plethora of opportunities to network with fellow professionals, gain useful insights and in turn grow their businesses.



Travel And Tour World: Social media and digitalization is one of the most exciting factors in the global travel industry – Would you like to mention a few innovative measures that were implemented to improve the experience of ITB Asia?

Ms. Katrina Leung: In the current digital age, it has become increasingly crucial for organisations to engage their audiences both online and offline. ITB Asia has Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages which are consistently updated with information about the show. On our LinkedIn group page, users can also share articles and discuss topics and ideas. We have also rolled out a new mobile app in August -“Guidebook”. With the app, the ITB Asia guide can be accessed easily and users can find all information on the show from conferences, speakers and even travellers’ information.

At this year’s show, we have also lined up several sessions addressing recent social media and digital trends. On the first day of the show, there will be a session in collaboration with the Professional Travel Bloggers Association (PTBA) on “How blogging and social media earns you money”, outlining how investment in social media, blogging and email marketing results in benefits and ultimately profits for an organisation. Our conference in partnership with Euromonitor on the third day of the show will shed light on the global online travel market and the online travel consumer patterns. There will also be a showcase on the second day of the show, detailing technology’s increasing role in the travel and hotelier industry.



Travel And Tour World: To conclude, what are your thoughts on the future of business travel events in Asia and the world?

Ms. Katrina Leung: Business travel events are important platforms for those in the industry to connect with each other and gain an in-depth understanding on issues and trends affecting the travel industry today. At ITB Asia, we help to facilitate face-to-face interactions which are crucial in spreading awareness, establishing partnerships, building contacts and generating leads. With ITB Asia’s expertise, networks and continuous development of the show’s content, we are confident of even more successful years ahead.



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