By Steven Renard
ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade show, brought together more than 6,000 exhibitors from 160 countries and 95,000 attendees from 180 countries. In comparison to the 2019, there was roughly 20-per-cent fewer exhibitors and attendees.
This year’s ITB was comparable to the 2021 ILTM in Cannes. That global flagship conference was the first event that brought together luxury travel professionals from 73 countries with more than 1,300 luxury travel suppliers worldwide to return after the pandemic.
There was hesitance and fewer companies participated at the 2021 ILTM as organizations were not comfortable investing in a conference until they were confident about the return of our business.
At ITB 2023, attendance by more than 6,000 exhibitors from 160 countries and 95,000 attendees from 180 countries was lower and was considered a small show. There were 20-per-cent fewer participants and attendees than at the 2019 fair. Other than this reason for the lack of participation and attendance, other issues hindered a much larger turnout in 2023.
Previously, hoteliers attended ITB to manage their stands, sign contracts and meet clients. However, because many meetings are now carried out virtually, it’s not necessary for all hoteliers to attend. Finances are also a factor.
Similarly, fewer hoteliers attended the World Travel Mart (WTM) a few years ago as they were replaced by destination booths. There were also more technology companies offering front-office systems, reservation systems, automatic-service robots, sales-improvement products and more.
We see that as a result of these non-hotel companies being able to showcase their products with their larger budgets, and as so much more online business is being negotiated, fewer and fewer hotel companies or their representatives will need to attend in the future. Why would a senior hotel executive, buyer, or attendee want to come to look at reservation systems or car rental companies when these can be done simply in an online demonstration?
Therefore, I believe that the ITB may become more like the WTM with fewer hoteliers attending as opposed to a “true hotelier only” conference such as the ILTM Cannes, which is by invitation and strictly for hotel groups and no suppliers are allowed ….and they are always full to capacity.