TTW – As the 10th ITB Convention since 2004 gets under way would you like to comment on the past decade and the next ten years of world tourism?
David Ruetz : In the last ten years the ITB Berlin Convention has become the international travel industry’s largest think tank. To date, a total of around 100,000 trade visitors have participated in lectures and discussions with more than 2,000 leading speakers. Every year, the ITB Berlin Convention sets new standards, with debate focusing on topics such as tourism, business, politics, society and sustainability. It is an indispensable platform for exchanging knowledge on best practices dealing with current and future challenges as well as the latest tourism topics. Exclusive empirical surveys, expert panel guests and innovative concepts provide valuable insights into the most important trends of the global tourism industry as well as important tips on how to manage one’s own business. The ITB Berlin Convention also provides an outstanding opportunity to network with the trade.
Over the next ten years we expect an even greater emphasis on travel technology in global tourism. Mobile bookings and technological advances will completely revolutionise the way people book and travel. Today’s digital natives already have a totally different approach to booking tours than the generation preceding them. Sustainable and responsible travel will continue to be a widely discussed industry topic. Numerous approaches and best practices already exist. However, there is an even greater potential here and this is reflected in the developments at the ITB CSR Day which has been taking place at the ITB Berlin Convention for the last five years. In the years to come the demographic change in a number of countries and the various needs of the over sixty-fives, travellers with disabilities and holidaymakers with different cultural backgrounds will present the travel industry with additional challenges. Barrier-free travel, health tourism as well as rising numbers from China and the Arab countries travelling to European destinations will bring about considerable change within the industry.
TTW – How does the ITB Berlin Convention envisage efficient means in the global tourism industry?
David Ruetz : Over the three days of the event, numerous lectures, discussions and the highlighting of best practices will give trade visitors the edge in terms of expert knowledge. Leading experts will provide first-hand information on the latest survey results as well as on important developments and trends. Particularly in these times of information overload, a platform such as the ITB Convention offers an ideal opportunity to obtain maximum information in the shortest possible time.
TTW: What is the significance of PhoCusWright@ITB?
David Ruetz : Travel and tourism industry experts will be meeting at the PhoCusWright@ITB travel technology conference to discuss and define the market’s future. This event helps participants benefit from the latest trends, implement their knowledge, promote innovation and take the lead. Analysts from PhoCusWright, a world-renowned US marketing research and consulting company specialising in the tourism industry, have developed an innovative programme of brief sessions, round tables and interviews which debate the main topics and visions on the future of e-travel within the brief space of one day.
Every year PhoCusWright@ITB carries a different heading – highlighting a problem, trend or key theme, which presents industry leaders and executives with a challenge and points the way to the future. This key theme – whether it defines new goals, difficulties or innovations in the travel market – creates a unique environment. The main feature of this event is that all the lectures and sessions focus on the key theme and interpret it in their own way. The result is a thought-provoking mixture of information and ideas which takes the participants’ understanding of leading trends and aspects to a new level.
High-profile speakers will gather in an exceptional atmosphere, together with an expert audience of travel professionals, innovators and thought pioneers, where they can meet and establish contact. Expectations are high when like-minded players and influential industry experts come here to work together, move forward and do business. PhoCusWright@ITB is part of the ITB Berlin Convention.
TTW: How does ITB Berlin plan to cope with the economic crisis in Europe and enhance tourism?
David Ruetz : As the world’s largest travel trade show ITB Berlin attracts around 170,000 visitors every year, providing exhibitors with an opportunity to showcase their products and services to trade visitors and the general public alike. Particularly in economically difficult times, ITB Berlin is a platform where exhibitors can cultivate valuable business contacts. The volume of business negotiated and concluded at the show is in the order of six billion euros. This is impressive proof that ITB Berlin gives exhibitors’ business a long-term boost. In 2013, during the Open Days of ITB, exhibitors will for the first time be able to sell tours to the general public, offering them an additional source of income.
TTW: According to you, what is the future of business travel?
David Ruetz : In our view the trend towards globalisation will lead to even greater demands on business travel. Increasingly rapid forms of transport, more and more flights and technological progress will facilitate travel and make it easier to bridge long distances and meet people in person. Cities that were once remote locations will become attractive MICE event venues. Worldwide growth in mobility will have a long-term impact on business travel.
TTW: Could you comment on “digital transparency” and the rise of social media and its impact on World Tourism?
David Ruetz : Growth in digital transparency will make it easier to tailor products and information more efficiently to users’ needs. Information from social networks and communities already lets companies personalise their customer relationships and tailor their products to customers’ needs. The growing influence of social media will also have a long-term impact on the global travel industry. Recommendations from one’s own network will play an increasingly important role. Maintaining direct contact with companies via social networks influences customer relations management within the travel industry.