ITB BERLIN 2024 opens with excellent bookings after global rise in travel in 2023

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ITB BERLIN 2024 opens with excellent bookings after global rise in travel in 2023Global B2B platform under the heading #ITBTOGETHER

ITB Berlin, which is taking place from 5 to 7 March 2024 on the Berliner Exhibition Grounds, reports excellent bookings for a total of 150,000 square metres, equivalent to over 90 per cent of the display area. At 87 per cent, international participation in the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show is at a record high. The ITB Buyers Circle with 1,300 senior buyers serves as an industry barometer and underlines the global importance of ITB Berlin. Strong growth in the Mobility, Travel Technology and Cruise segments and the presence of the Host Country Oman and other Arab states reflect the diversity of the over 5,500 exhibitors from 170 countries and territories. The ITB Berlin Convention, the industry’s leading think tank, examines global trends and highlights best practices with industry experts including, TUI, Phocuswright and Google to shape tomorrow’s tourism.

Dr Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe Berlin: "ITB Berlin is the meeting place for the tourism industry’s entire value chain, once again underlining its global importance as a leading international trade show. The outstanding quality of our senior buyers and excellent bookings reflect upbeat travel demand. Once again, ITB Berlin is cementing its position as a global expert forum and hub for innovations and trends. Despite rising travel demand, our industry also faces many challenges such as climate change, an energy crisis, the march of AI and skills shortages. They can only be overcome together. That is why it is so important for us to gather all the actors in Berlin so we can benefit from mutual inspiration, learn from each other and work on solutions together."

The global B2B platform ITB Berlin 2024 opens with excellent bookings under the heading #ITBTOGETHER
Taking as its slogan ’Beauty Has An Address’, this year’s Official Host Country the Sultanate of Oman is strongly represented in Halls 2.2 and 4.1 and is taking part in a wide range of activities and events, including at the ITB Berlin Convention, as a sponsor of the ITB Blogger Base, and as a partner of the ITB MICE Night. The Sultanate is presenting 5,000 years of history and its rich cultural heritage at the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show.

Among the highlights featuring Oman is the opening event on the eve of the show. A tour of the beauty and many facets of the country in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula awaits some 3,000 guests invited to the event, including numerous prominent political and tourism industry figures. Political representatives Kai Wegner, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, and Dieter Janecek, the Federal Government’s Coordinator for Maritime Economy and Tourism, will welcome the host country and those present. The travel industry will be represented by Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation (UN Tourism). Dr Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe Berlin, will represent ITB Berlin. On 6 March at Philharmonie Berlin, the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hamdan Al Shuaili will perform a concert spanning classical music and works from Oman. Additional information on Oman can be found in a portrait of the host country entitled ‘A Sultanate full of surprises’, available for download as a PDF file.

The slogan of the ITB Berlin Convention, the industry’s leading think tank, is ’Pioneer the Transition in Travel & Tourism. Together. Taking place with 17 theme tracks and on four live stages, 200 sessions featuring experts will discuss topics including travel technology, marketing & sales, future travel, MICE, sustainability, destination management, hospitality, social responsibility, business travel, future work, AI, web 3.0 and chatbots. Some 400 speakers representing big names such as, Phocuswright, TUI, the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), Google, and Microsoft will provide fascinating insights into the future of tourism.

Presentation of the latest findings of the Global Travel Buyer Index

In cooperation with the leading management consultancy Dr Fried & Partner from Munich, the ITB Buyers Circle, a long-standing institution at ITB Berlin with its senior buyers, took part in a survey for the Global Travel Buyer Index (GTBI). A total of 1,000 handpicked buyers, selected for their purchasing volume, offered fascinating insights in the latest survey.

The majority of the first round of GTBI interviews took place between December 2023 and February of this year. The participation of several hundred members of the Buyers Circle offered an interesting look at the composition of the circle and the overall economic mood. Europe remained the leading source market, with Germany accounting for over 25 per cent. Asia and North America made up around 7 and 5 per cent respectively. The buying categories reflected a wide range of interests. Hotels dominated at around 81 per cent, while activities & events and DMC services each accounted for around 50 per cent. Transfers, flights, cruises and rental car services made up the remaining share of buyers’ interests.

Regarding the economic situation, the mood among ITB Buyers Circle members was upbeat. Over the past six months the majority reported higher order volumes year-on-year. The forecasts for the next six months were optimistic too, with around three-quarters expecting their order volume to increase.

ITB Innovation Radar – focus on industry visionaries

Following the platform’s launch in 2023, the second ITB Innovation Radar has expanded and features 16 innovations. The innovations being presented include B2B services for the hospitality sector and travel professionals, new services and sustainable concepts, and offer a preview of tomorrow’s upcoming trends.

GauVendi is presenting Inventi-Flow, an AI function for improving hotel booking allocations. WorldLine is working on AI-driven automatic payments, and Lato is presenting a new AI-based Trip Reader for a quick digital list of trips. GoodID Scanner offers a mobile ID scanning and remote verification and check-in solution for hotels and accommodation providers. This innovation speeds up check-ins by 70 per cent.

Mastercard is presenting its Tico Treasures platform which connects tourists and artisans. Tomorrow's Air of the Adventure Travel Trade Association provides travellers and tour operators with information on the importance of supporting carbon-neutral and sustainable aviation fuels. Yoummday hosts a technology platform for managing remote workers. Hotel Social by 80 DAYS is a training initiative for the hotel industry, and HiJiffy's Guest Communications Hub now features improved functions including mood analysis, self-learning AI and the first language assistant developed specifically for the hospitality industry.

Tour operators and agencies are focusing on innovative technologies. They include Chain4Travel's Camino Messenger, a blockchain platform, and FastSearch by ISO Travel Solutions, which makes searching for and calculating travel offers more efficient and user-friendly. FacilitaTrip is marketing a user-friendly tool for organising complex trips, while WeTravel has introduced a multi-currency checkout function. Kiosk by Sharebox and Game Rentacar is marketing innovative car rental solutions featuring automatic key safe systems. Mara Solutions is presenting MARA, a review management tool suggesting AI-based replies to visitor ratings.

A big global increase in outbound travel in 2023

IPK International’s latest World Travel Monitor® findings show that, with double-digit growth, outbound travel in 2023 almost returned to pre-pandemic levels. Travel from Asia registered a surge of 140 per cent, while trips from Europe and the Americas also increased. The return of outbound travellers in Asia is a positive development, and despite rising travel costs interest in outbound travel remains high.

Clear favourites and trends were the hallmarks of travel in 2023: Spain was the most-visited destination again, while Dubai was the highest-rated. Among the five highest-rated destinations behind Dubai were the Maldives, last year’s winner, South Africa and Abu Dhabi. Sun & beach destinations were extremely popular, reflecting the continuing desire for this type of vacation, while air travel continues to be the most popular form of transport. 2023 was characterised by a significant rise in travel spending. The figures point to a keen desire to travel and the industry’s recovery. IPK International offers an optimistic outlook and forecasts a full recovery by late 2024, indicating an upward trend and growing confidence among travellers.

Networking and events in perfection

In 2024, ITB Berlin is again setting the pace for networking and event options to encourage face-to-face meetings between everyone at the show. “The wide range of events taking place on exhibitor stands, in meeting rooms, at evening events and the ITB Berlin Convention make ITB Berlin an authentic meeting place for business. This is where synergies are focused purely on the core activities of business, networking and content“, said Deborah Rothe, director of ITB Berlin.

This year, the ever-popular ITB Speed Networking event is taking place on Thursday, 7 March from 9 to 10 a.m. It allows buyers and exhibitors to meet for a pre-arranged eight-minute time slot to build leads and strengthen business. This optional service is free of charge – only exhibitors with a confirmed time slot using the Matchmaking Tool may take part in the ITB Speed Networking event. Afterwards, In addition to the members and friends of the ITB Buyers Circle, ITB Berlin is inviting all exhibitors to a one-hour open networking event in the CityCube Berlin. "There isn’t a Zoom conference in the world that can replace face-to-face dialogue. ITB Berlin is the industry’s most important platform for meeting in person”, Rothe added. Along with the popular ITB Speed Networking event, the ITB Chinese Night and ITB MICE Night are also taking place again.

For those unable to attend in person, a full digital ticket offers access to the virtual supporting platform ITBxplore and an opportunity to take part in ITB Berlin from the remotest parts of the world. ITBxplore features new functions to ensure everyone enjoys a successful visit to the show. The platform focuses on making preparations, including the event programme, and an interactive map of the grounds by bookmarking favourites and networking. Users can make their profiles visible, search for exhibitors and also contact them and other attendees with the online chat function. Improved scheduling functions and the ability to check availability, as well as improved visibility with tagging for Buyers Circle members, make ITBxplore even more user-friendly.

The ITB app complements ITBxplore and provides optimum orientation with an exhibitor search function, interactive hall maps and all the ITB Berlin programme items at a glance. Ticket holders can register using the same email as for their ticket purchase, can easily save the ticket with the app and use ITBxplore profile synchronisation for trouble-free networking. The digital companion for smartphones features a QR code reader for swapping contact details at the show and a QR code generator for networking.

The closed Meeting Cubes in the CityCube Berlin, which exhibitors can book on an hourly basis for confidential meetings, are a new feature, while the Hybrid Stage in Hall 5.3 is again a perfect option for livestreaming exhibitor events via ITBxplore. Exhibitors and trade visitors can book the Business Satellites on an hourly basis at various locations on the exhibition grounds, for example in hub27, sponsored by A-ROSA, or in Halls 3.1, 8.2 and 18. They provide additional spaces to meet and work, and this year catering options are available too.

ITB Berlin is once again the industry’s global meeting place

In 2024 five additional halls (Halls 8.2, 10.1, 10.2, 11.2 and 18) are re-opening, which makes a full circular tour possible again. One standout feature is the focus on German-speaking countries in hub27, the multi-purpose hall of Messe Berlin, where Germany, Austria and Switzerland appear together with Slovenia and Liechtenstein. In Hall 1.1 ITB Berlin has registered high demand, with over 170 exhibitors from Greece, including numerous individual exhibitors taking part. Italy, Malta, Croatia, Kosovo and Bosnia are represented in Hall 1.2, while Turkey has significantly increased its numbers in Hall 3.2. The Arab world boasts a prominent representative of Oman, the host country. Other Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are also making a strong showing this year at ITB Berlin. Asia and Oceania are represented in three halls, whereby Hall 5.2a featuring India, New Zealand and Australia is fully booked. In Hall 26, devoted to Asia, China is making an impressive comeback after the pandemic. Halls 20 and 21 are home to African countries including the island nations of Mauritius and the Seychelles as well as the French overseas department of Réunion. South Africa, which is strongly represented, is featured here too, along with Namibia and Zambia, which for the first time is occupying a larger stand. Countries including the USA, Canada, Mexico and Dominica from the Americas and the Caribbean are also participating in large numbers in Halls 3.1, 22a, 22b, 23a and 23b.

Exhibitors representing the booming Mobility and Cruise segments are strongly represented at this year’s ITB Berlin. Exhibitors include SIXT, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, AIDA with AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America and Seabourn. This is the first time the Walt Disney Company is taking part. Its focus is on the cruise market with Disney Cruise Lines. Under the heading ’Take Travel Technology to the next level. Together, forward-looking products and ideas in the Travel Technology segment are being exhibited in Halls 5.1, 6.1, 7.1c, 8.1 and 10.1. In addition to industry heavyweights such as Amadeus and Sabre, numerous Chinese companies are also taking part. The popular CULTURE LOUNGE has relocated to Hall 8.2, which is now open again. This is also where to find the new ITB MICE HUB, which gives MICE providers a platform regardless of the destinations they represent. Hall 4.1 is devoted to Youth and Adventure Tourism and responsible tourism and also features the ITB Sustainability Lounge by Mascontour for the first time at the show. In the Medical and Health Tourism segment a wide range of providers, including for the first time the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Slovenia as the supporting partner can be found in the Medical & Health Pavilion in Hall 3.1. The LGBTQ+ Tourism Pavilion in Hall 4.1 showcases the largest range of LGBTQ+ tourism products at any trade show, while the Luxury Travel segment in the HOME of LUXURY at Marshall Haus features an extra lounge. This is the first time the ITB Buyers Circle Lounge, sponsored by the OMRAN Group, can be found at the north entrance in the Palais am Funkturm, while the ITB Career Center powered by the Federal Employment Agency in Hall 4.1 is presenting a wide range of international courses and job opportunities again.

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