What is ITB?
ITB officially stands for Internationale Tourismus Borse. Running annually in Berlin since 1966, ITB has grown from humble beginnings with a mere five country representatives to now laying claim to the coveted title of “worlds leading travel trade show”. Whether you are an airline, tour operator, country agent, booking system developer, hotel, travel agent, cruise liner, or simply an avid traveller, ITB covers all aspects of travel and tourism and is the place to make contacts, spark ideas or simply inspire wanderlust.
With the travel and tourism industry accounting for over 258 million jobs worldwide, it is of no surprise that this renowned B2B event attracts thousands from around the globe. 11,000 in fact represent their countries at ITB, whilst 22,000 come to seek advice, stimulate debate and drive the tourism industry forward year after year.
2014 was my first taste of ITB; it was my first taste of any travel trade show in fact. I think my colleagues found my unabashed amazement at the sheer scale of the event somewhat amusing. I mean just how do representatives from 189 countries fit into a conference hall on the outskirts of Berlin? I had been warned that this was “a big event”. It’s not big, it monstrous. I felt like a small child clinging on to dad for fear of getting lost in this vast emporium. Despite being armed with a map the size of a broadsheet newspaper, I did get lost many times… and I like to call myself a seasoned traveller!
If you wish to walk the world in a day, or taste Colombian coffee, touch the Taj Mahal, eat German Saucraut, watch Fijian dancers, listen to African drumming or rock climb a makeshift cliff face all before lunch then ITB is the place for you. Yet, that does not begin to touch the sides of what ITB has to offer. As well as the literally never-ending sights, sounds and tastes this ‘world under one roof’ has to offer, ITB is also the place to do serious business.
With over two hundred presentations and talks, ITB initiates and encourages professional debate on a whole host of industry related topics. From technological innovations in booking systems, to corporate social responsibility, to social media, incentive travel and even the future of this unstoppable industry, this four day event addresses decision makers in every possible segment of the global tourism industry. Even if you missed the boat or chose not to join the masses on their journey to Berlin you wont have missed out. Most, if not all of the convention was televised on live screenings available worldwide, while many camera crews wandered the halls filming for TV channels back home.
The highlights for me were appreciating the sheer scale and reach of the global travel industry, getting my first taste of product development and meeting the agents that Jon Baines Tours works collaboratively with day in day out. With its extensive and wide-ranging thematic variety, ITB has something for everyone, from every country, and for every area of the travel and tourism industry. Would I recommend a visit? Without question. Counting down the days till ITB 2015 already…