In January we attended the largest travel trade fair in Spain, FITUR 2014 in Madrid. It was an interesting event, but naturally better suited for Spanish speakers or those working specifically in the travel industry in Spain. The event was a great excuse to go to Madrid though, especially since our plane tickets on Ryanair were extremely cheap flying from Dublin. In November, I attended World Travel Market 2013 in London, which is the biggest travel trade fair in the world primarily catering to English speakers. On March 5th-9th, 2014, the world’s largest travel trade show, ITB Berlin is taking place. If you’re planning to go there, or to a similar event, here’s what to expect from a travel trade fair.
Some very large companies have mega setups all to themselves. Notable examples at both World Travel Market 2013 and FITUR 2014 were the two big airlines from the United Arab Emirates- Etihad and Emirates airlines. Each was a little scaled back at FITUR, but they were still impressive. Expect to be impressed if you come across them at ITB Berlin 2014 or any large travel trade fair.
Because FITUR is more Spanish centric, many other nations were scaled back compared to their stalls at World Travel Market in London. Belgium, which was still well represented at FITUR 2014, only had one bar serving Belgian beers instead to two. Clearly, they still had an impressive representation and you can probably expect to see a double-sided bar again at ITB Berlin 2014.
Countries like Malaysia, which had a gigantic setup at World Travel Market, only had a small stall at FITUR. But Angola was probably equally represented with a wonderful display filled with tasty treats and gift bags they were happy to give away. They really set the mark for not just Africa, but generally putting on a great promotion by FITUR standards.
While World Travel Market is open to the public, it is primarily considered a B2B Conference (business to business) and focuses on large buyers rather than smaller transactions. A Spanish blogger informed us that the latter portion of FITUR has a much larger B2C element (business to consumer), meaning that attendees outside the travel industry can purchase trips directly from many vendors. We did not attend the portion of FITUR that was open to public as we were busy enjoying Madrid, rather than just viewing Spanish stalls while actually being in Spain.
So what to expect from ITB Berlin 2014? It will be its own beast and we expect it to be something in between World Travel Market and FITUR. The event will be bigger than FITUR, German centric, but also with a solid international feel, as according to its website 1,500 international journalists from outside Germany ventured to ITB Berlin 2013, represented by an additional 4,500 German journalists. So if you’re a serious travel blogger, it could be in your interests to attend the event to check out some new trends and chat to some representatives from tourism boards and companies about familiarization trips. Our advice would be to have a game plan beforehand and try not to go too crazy trying to chat with everyone as you’ll become overwhelmed. But also put yourself out there as contacts you make can come in handy months down the line.
Even if you’re just looking to plan a vacation, one of these mammoth events can be worth checking out to gather some information and talk to representatives from nations first hand about some questions you might have. Though large travel trade fairs are typically only open to the general public on the final 2 days.
A very in-depth post with tips specifically catering to travel bloggers preparing for a major travel trade fair can be read on Keep Calm and Travel who was in attendance at WTM 2013.
Another major travel trade fair is ITB Asia which falls again later this year. Our friends at With Husband in Tow, attended the 2013 event in Singapore and did a great write up comparing it with World Travel Market in London.
For ITB Berlin 2014:
Trade Visitors: March 5th-9th from 10am-6pm
General Public: March 8th-9th from 10am-6pm