Preview: ITB Berlin 2013 - Over 60 companies sell directly to consumer.
Tuesday, 5th March 2013
Source : Roland Wildberg ~ Exclusive from ITB
The world's largest travel fair to open shortly: Exchange of information, contacts and shopping in 26 halls - debates on the most important trends in the travel industry - first direct.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryThe success - as almost always among travel and tourism - depends on the weather: whether ITB Berlin will be so successful as in previous years, the sky has great influence.

Fortunately for the organizers, rain and low temperature is predicted, as of Wednesday, so that the heated travel dreams in 26 halls for many will be more attractive than the modest early spring in Central Europe, which has chased the long, bleak winter off for a few days. So, as always, don't forget your scarf, if you come to Berlin.

And do not forget a few attractive bargain offers in your luggage as well. For the fair society has done everything in its power not only professionals, but also private visitors in droves come: as we reported already before at 4hoteliers.com, direct travel sales are allowed at the ITB Berlin 2013 for the first time since the show opened 45 years ago.

Withstanding the criticism of the most powerful German travel agency lobby, but with the blessing of many tour operators and tourism offices around the world. "75 percent of visitors to ITB 2012 have a trip booked just after the mass walk - why they cannot immediately do?", Bernhard Ruetz, Chief of the fair asks rhetorically. Now they can.

Until the weekend, 60 representatives of the tourism industry have announced their participation in direct marketing, including such important as India Tourism. More are likely to follow: according to ITB Berlin about half of the participating companies (2012 it were 10.644 altogether) have advocated in a survey last year that travel can be sold to end customers at ITB - were at least approximately 60,000 people coming for private reasons last year. To make sure that also on Sunday, as much audience as possible fills the traditionally empty halls, fair society has discovered incidentally even innovative distribution channels and sold tickets for private visitors on discount portals.

But of course most visitors are rather interested in peers. Shopping, networking, and information about the latest trends are the main reason to come once in a year to Berlin. And this desire to have oneself updated, in the exhibition halls and the ITB Congress will find its equivalent easily. The amount of events is so enormous that many interesting lectures, symposia, panel discussions and presentations held at the same time. 4hoteliers.com will publish in shortly some recommendations on especially exciting topics.

One of the triggering trends is more or less taken up from the neighborhood: the CEBIT, one of the most important computer exhibitions in the world, has put just a 300 kilometers away in the city of Hannover the subject "Shareconomy" to the motto of the international IT meetings. And Shareconomy affects also the hospitality industry more than ever: alone the world leader of the segment, "Airbnb" recorded three million overnight stays last year - from private to private.

Visionaries predict a new form of business already: consumer to business C2B - so the business traveller who no longer descends in the expensive city hotel, but rather choose the cheap private b & b in the neighborhood. Whether for the professional accommodation intermediaries (vulgo hotels) a threat or a chance yet, will be discussed at several events in Berlin.

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Another threat that we almost have become used to, represents the ongoing crisis. In parts of the EU, consumption has fallen sharply, what influence has on the global travel industry? A discussion group will clarify that, which will be held in addition to the much-acclaimed IPK World Traveller monitor global and European travel behavior.

That the sinking of the "Costa Concordia" had no great impact on the cruise industry over a year ago, was seen shortly after the disaster: no industry is growing as fast and stable as that of the luxury hotels on the water for years. In addition to robust statistics, also a future scenario of the cruise industry will be presented at ITB.

Away from the sea: On safe grounds (of the tablet) stay futurists, dealing with the increasing influence of mobile digital devices on our travel and booking behavior. That the pads and smart phones already are part of the tourism industry, the ITB itself finally shows for years by dedicating an entire hall for the electronic presentation and distribution of destinations.

Of course, also the time for contacts and picking up information is limited. Because five days of ITB are then very short, a newcomer has imagined their time saving model: African destination Burundi, neighbouring country of Tanzania is represented only the third year at the ITB - after them at first go received the fair's "Best Exhibitor Award" (and again in the past year), innovation remains an important issue.

So they invented "business speed dating": As a representative of Burundi tourism in an interview of a German newspaper explained: "The ITB is a challenge, because it takes a lot of time waiting for the other party," and therefore the management reserved talk time for each contact partner 15 minutes. May this work or not, at least 100 percent marketing professionals are they: give the beast a name and communicate offensively about it! For everyone to get forward.

Photo credit: Messe berlin / ITB Berlin

4Hoteliers Image LibraryThis is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.

Roland heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams, now in its 5th consecutive year.

For more info: http://www.4Hoteliers.com/itb

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