Published on : Monday, March 15, 2021
ITB Berlin remains the leading platform for the global travel industry – in a virtual format and in the year of the pandemic 2021. From 8 to 12 March 2021, the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show gathered the industry on its new and entirely virtual platform at ITB Berlin NOW.
During the five-day event, around 65,700 users visited the online platform, of whom around two-thirds (64.5 per cent) were from other countries. Taking as its slogan ’The digital Meet-up for the Travel Industry. Anytime. Anywhere.’, the trade show gave participants a unique virtual meeting place in surely one of the most challenging times in recent decades. 3,513 exhibitors representing destinations, hotel chains and tech companies from 120 countries made use of the new format to present their products and services. There was also keen media interest. Over 1,000 media representatives and travel bloggers from 54 countries covered the event live. 80 per cent of the participants made use of the networking features, which included business meetings via individual and group calls, chats and searching for business partners. During ITB, the programme of events over a total of 265 hours registered around 52,600 participants: Some 700 speakers at more than 400 discussion rounds at the convention, who held lectures, interviews and took part in exhibitor presentations and press conferences and gave their views on how the industry can overcome the effects of the pandemic and initiate a successful recovery. Many companies were creative at their events, the Balearic Islands for instance, which held a press conference live from the port of Palma de Mallorca.
Martin Ecknig, CEO of Messe Berlin that the last 12 months have shown how important it is for the travel industry to have a platform in these difficult times, in order to be sure of a specialist meeting place after months of uncertainty and in such an exceptional situation. In particular, there was keen interest in the many networking opportunities, which reflected the quality of ITB Berlin NOW users. Four out of five contact requests led to a successful business match. The successful conclusion to a week of live events showed the additional benefits of this virtual solution. For ITB Berlin NOW is not over yet. Even after the event, meetings can be scheduled and content and other functions will remain online until 31 May 2021. For the period of this service, all users can expand their reach even further, find important information and contacts, network with each other, evaluate their results and access programme items. At the same time, customers are keen to be back in Berlin again next year as usual.
Next year, ITB Berlin is scheduled to take place as an in-person event in Berlin from 9 to 13 March 2022. “The experience gained at ITB Berlin NOW will influence our planning for March 2022. We will take the lessons learned and combine them with our decades-long experience of organising in-person events“, said David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin. “At the same time, we are keeping all options open to expand ITB Berlin’s content and dates with a virtual event. For us, planning a hybrid trade show means combining the essential elements of an in-person and virtual industry event in the best possible way. That gives every audience the best possible chance to take part in the trade show and convention – regardless of where they are in the world.“
For the CEO, another reason for optimism was the positive mood among consumers which the Statista institute confirmed by releasing a joint survey at ITB Berlin NOW. According to the analysis, 70 per cent of respondents plan to travel in 2021 or intend to plan a trip soon. 37 per cent of those polled in Germany are making actual plans. The findings of a global survey by IPK International from January of this year are also a reason to be optimistic about travel in 2021. 62 per cent of travellers worldwide intend to travel abroad this year. For the majority of those currently not aiming to travel abroad, the risk of Covid infection outweighs financial reasons. A combination of vaccines now being available and a high willingness among outbound travellers (90 per cent) to be vaccinated has nullified the main reason for not wanting to travel, meaning that nothing stands in the way of a rapid and widespread recovery of the industry. “How the tourism industry could successfully recover from the crisis was the main topic these past few days. After all the bad news of recent months we are delighted to note that people want to travel again“, Martin Ecknig added.