What to Expect at a Travel Trade Fair

We recently attended the largest travel trade fair in Spain, FITUR 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 visit Madrid though. Especially since our plane tickets on Ryanair were extremely cheap flying from Dublin.

In November, I attended World Travel Market in London, which is the biggest travel trade fair in the world primarily catering to English speakers. Every March, the world’s largest travel trade show, ITB Berlin takes place. If you’re planning to go there, or to a similar event, here’s what to expect from a travel trade fair!

Alex & Bell - FIUR, Madrid 2014

Glamour Tourism Board Exhibits at Travel Trade Fairs

You’re going to be overwhelmed by glamorous tourism board and corporate mega displays. ITB Berlin 2014 will be absolutely massive, and at the setups for many countries, where tourism is near the top of their gross domestic product- you could literally spend hours talking to a vast array of people ranging from regional representatives, to tour operators to hotel proprietors.

Many countries tourism boards- Greece, France, Spain, Malaysia and Thailand, just to name a few of scores of nations who have massive setups. Even Iran and Iraq had huge setups in London. The best way is to register in advance and schedule appointments. Every country has a front desk, so you can approach them first. Or try going directly to an individual representative you want to speak to if they’re free.

The Iraqi Tourism Board's mega stall at WTM 2013 in London
The Iraqi Tourism Board’s large exhibit at WTM in London.

World Travel Market compared to FITUR

Some very large companies have huge setups all to themselves. Notable examples at both World Travel Market and FITUR are 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 or any large travel trade fair.

Even the scaled back Greek set up at FITUR was impressive
Even the scaled back Greek set up at FITUR was impressive

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, only had one bar serving Belgian beers instead of two. Clearly, they still had an impressive representation and you can probably expect to see a double-sided bar again at ITB Berlin.

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.

Alex with his Angola freebies - FITUR

Is FITUR, Spain’s Largest Travel Trade Fair Worth It?

FITUR wasn’t as enjoyable as World Travel Market, not only because of the language but also because World Travel Market is better organized, free and more hospitable. FITUR charged a fee for media entrance, made it harder to get a press badge, and countries were generally stingier with food and drinks than they were at World Travel Market.

Queues to order overpriced food at FITUR  during lunch rush were absurdly long. If Madrid wasn’t such a fantastic city, we would have felt like we wasted our time going to FITUR.

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.

The best part of being at FITUR was not being at FITUR. Plaza Mayor in Madrid
The best part of being at FITUR was not being at FITUR. Plaza Mayor in Madrid

So What to Expect at ITB Berlin?

Expect ITB Berlin to be something in between World Travel Market and FITUR. ITB Berlin is even bigger than FITUR, German centric, but also with a solid international feel. According to their website, 1,500 international journalists from outside Germany ventured to ITB Berlin, represented by an additional 4,500 German journalists.

So if you’re a serious travel blogger, it could be in your interests to attend ITB Berlin 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. Try not to go too crazy chatting with everyone, as you’ll become overwhelmed. Put yourself out there as contacts you make can come in handy months or years down the line. Read our article on how to make money off a travel blog!

Even if you’re just looking to plan a vacation, one of these mammoth events can be worth checking out. It’s an opportunity to gather information and talk to representatives from nations firsthand about questions you might have.

Melilla is a lesser known exclave of Spain, located on the north coast of Africa bordering Morocco. Small place, big display!
Melilla is a lesser known exclave of Spain. It’s located on the north coast of Africa bordering Morocco. Small destination, large exhibit!

An 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. They were in attendance at WTM London.

Another major travel trade fair is ITB Asia which falls again later this year. Our friends at With Husband in Tow, attended the event in Singapore. They did a great write up comparing it with World Travel Market in London.

Travel Trade Fair Recap

A travel trade fair is a great way to build connections. It can be a fantastic way to grow your brand, or find a job in the travel industry. It can also be a good excuse for a vacation. Read this updated in-depth article packed with tips on attending travel conferences around the world!


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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6 thoughts on “What to Expect at a Travel Trade Fair

  1. Wow seriously you guys are like professional travel expo/market-attenders! I’m so jealous! Yes Fitur does look and sound more low key than WTM. are you guys going to ITB Berlin as well? Being on the other side of the world, I’ll be ‘there’ vicariously through yours and others posts 🙂

    1. Hey Jean! Your travels are amazing, you have nothing to be jealous of, though we greatly appreciate your compliment 🙂 Thank you, we’re building up some experience with these things. London was better for networking and catching up with friends. Madrid was better for having a good time eating and strolling around town…Bell definitely cannot make it to ITB Berlin, I’m not 100% sure about attending yet. I haven’t booked anything, but maybe! Cheers!

  2. Thanks for the tips.So wish I made it to WTM this year, it looks amazing and your pics are what made me want to go to ITB. Wish you and Jean could join me at ITB… now to have a game plan for the 5-6 hours I will be there.

    1. Hey Ann! That’s such a wonderful compliment, thank you so much! We wish we could join you at ITB as well- it was loads of fun hanging at TBEX. I’m still torn about Berlin and mulling it over, so I might just see you there after all. I’ll keep you posted, but in any event you’ll have a great time! 🙂

  3. I’m so happy I came across your post. I am new to the travel blogging scene and am looking forward to going to my first industry trade show next week in NYC, the NY Times Travel Show. I have no idea if it’s a good, decent or poor one; but I’m excited to check it out; besides I live in NJ, I can afford this trip! I will take a look at the other in-depth post you mentioned to prepare for this event. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kerry, thank you for your comment and pointing this out! It’s great to learn about the NY Times Travel Show as we’ve never heard of it. We’re still learning about new events all the time and since we live in Europe we’ve been trying to visit the events closer to us. Hopefully this will be an awesome show for you- wonderful when they are so close. It’s important to know about great networking opportunities in our own backyard. http://www.travelmassive.com might also be great for people to check out. They’re starting to hold travel networking events around the world. They would have a big scene in NYC. It’s starting to pick up here in Dublin too. Have fun, good luck and let us know how it was if you can! 🙂

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