MICE Travel Advisor catches up with Deborah Rothe, Exhibition Director, ITB Berlin sheds light on the unprecedented changes in the first in-person edition of the world’s largest tourism trade show in 2023. Rothe also provides valuable insight to her plans to further develop the grand trade show.
2023 marks the first in-person edition of ITB Berlin since the pandemic began. Is there any significant change in the world’s largest tourism trade show?
Deborah Rothe: With the motto of this year’s ITB Berlin “Open for Change,” the world’s leading travel trade show celebrates its live comeback from 7 to 9 March in Berlin. As a pure B2B show it now has a duration of three days for buyers, trade visitors, exhibitors and media. There are also novelties in ticket purchasing: From 2023, this will only be possible digitally. Members of the leading travel associations will also benefit from special conditions, and those who cannot attend live will have the opportunity to purchase a fully digital ticket. Our new online platform ITBxplore accompanies the live event and offers various networking options and live streaming in combination with show details such as product, exhibitor and event overviews. Also, new this year, are our “Business+ Lounge” in Hall 7.2a and “Business Satellites” at three different locations on the show grounds. ITB Berlin exhibitors can book the hybrid studio in Hall 5.3 for their own press conferences or product presentations. The HOME OF LUXURY by ITB will be celebrating its premiere in the Marshall Haus.
The ITB Media Monday will take place for the first time on the day before ITB Berlin on Monday, 6 March, and is dedicated exclusively to the press. It starts with the official opening press conference and continues with selected exhibitor press conferences and presentations, for example by the European Travel Commission (ETC) as well as the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) at the Palais am Funkturm.
As usual, the tourism industry’s most important Think Tank, the ITB Berlin Convention, willbe held in parallel with the trade show under the motto “Mastering Transformation”, this year. The stages are now located in the halls 7.1a, 7.1b, 6.1 and 3.1.
As the Exhibition Director of ITB Berlin, how do you maneuver to overcome challenges ahead of a long journey?
Deborah Rothe: What is important is to always keep on the move. The last few years have been challenging for us and for the industry, but at the same time we have been able to take a lot from those challenges. The pandemic, for example, has brought us enormous progress in digital areas – at ITB Berlin, we have been able to successfully add digital components in recent years. As our claim for ITB Berlin 2023 is “Open for Change” and the motto of ITB Berlin Convention is “Mastering Transformation”, new concepts, constant development and innovations have always been essential to us.
What are the avenues you wish to explore for further developing the trade show?
Deborah Rothe: Since over half a century, we stand with our brand for constantly driving inspiration for growth in travel and tourism and I want to keep that status alive. My predecessor David Ruetz and the entire team have already done excellent work here in the past and set many important impulses. I would like to build on this and, above all, expand our activities during the year. I want to further strengthen and establish ITB Berlin as a global trendsetter and leading platform for trends and networking. We also want more flexibility and touch points throughout the year, as ITB Berlin is not exclusively limited to three days per year. ITB Berlin takes place all year round and we are already working on this with full energy – within the framework of partnerships and side events. In addition, we have already started to expand our activities in other ways during the year, for example, through the TRVLX by ITB event series, with which we are holding events in different destinations. The B2B networking event series is to be continued as an integral part of the ITB portfolio. At the same time, we are also continuously developing the global ITB brand. The internationalization of the ITB brand family with trade shows in China, Singapore and India plays a major role here.
How can exhibitors and trade visitors build strong network with the travel industry players from the platform of ITB Berlin 2023?
Deborah Rothe: ITB Berlin offers a variety of networking opportunities to enhance the conversations – not only during ITB Berlin but also prior to the show in March. The new online platform ITBxplore accompanies the live event and is already open for networking and arranging appointments with attending exhibitors, trade visitors and media. Those who cannot be in Berlin this year can purchase a fully digital ticket and join the event digitally. On the trade show grounds during ITB Berlin, the “Business+ Lounge” in Hall 7.2a provides a great environment for efficient networking and business. Trade visitors can also use another networking option, our “Business Satellites,” which are located at three different locations. Customers can easily book meeting tables by hour online. The HOME OF LUXURY by ITB offers luxury buyers, suppliers, and media a unique and exclusive environment with versatile networking options in an extraordinary atmosphere in the Marshall Haus. At the ITB Speed Networking, buyers and sellers from the international tourism industry get together and meet relevant contacts to enhance their business. The ITB Convention Café in hall 7.1b as well as the networking area in hall 3.1 are further locations to connect with key players of the travel industry.
Do you think ‘ITBxplore’ can be the highlight of this year’s event? Tell us something about the ITB Mobile App and how it will bridge the gap between trade visitors/exhibitors and buyers/sellers/industry players.
Deborah Rothe: In March, we are finally bringing the global tourism industry together again live at our show grounds – I can’t wait to see and experience the magic of the face-to-face meetings, as well as the halls filled with life, the people and the handshakes. We are back with almost fully booked halls and a great feedback, especially from the international arena. At the same time, I am happy to welcome everyone digitally as well. The hybrid event concept with our online industry platform ITBxplore offers exhibitors, trade visitors and media representatives the opportunity to plan their visit to ITB Berlin in advance and to prepare themselves optimally. Product, exhibitor and event overviews are mapped there, and on-site appointments can be arranged with key industry players. At the same time, it allows us to welcome participants who can’t be live in Berlin this year digitally. With the fully digital ticket, selected content of the ITB Berlin Convention can be followed via livestream and all other possibilities of the platform can be used, for example the possibility to network digitally with the participants. The platform will be available until January 31, 2024. The ITB app is the smart companion for visiting the trade show. Here, exhibitor and product information and a detailed program overview and interactive hall plans are listed, so that all information is quickly available on the move.
Of course, we will continue to develop our service in the future and adapt it to the ever-changing needs of our customers.
What plans do you have for making ITB Berlin 2023 a grand success?
Deborah Rothe: True to our motto “Open for Change,” I’m expecting a brilliant live comeback. ITB Berlin has been an important driving force in the industry for more than 50 years now. Of course, we would like to strengthen this role even more. I am excited that we will finally come together again in Berlin as a global industry and leading platform for trends, inspiration and networking with a new concept and many innovations. I am looking forward to tourism industry’s most important Think Tank taking place again, the ITB Berlin Convention. “Mastering Transformation” is the tagline of ITB Berlin Convention 2023 and will highlight the major challenges and opportunities facing our industry, including digitization, the shortage of skilled workers, and the energy crisis. Our industry will continue to change dramatically in 2023. We are in a phase of profound challenges that go far beyond the pandemic or labor shortages. In total, we are offering 18 topic tracks at the convention this year – covering a wide range of themes from travel technology, marketing & sales, future travel, MICE, sustainability and social responsibility to hospitality, business travel or new work and digitalization.