Earlier this month, over 110,000 trade visitors from around the globe gathered in Berlin for ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin). Our team attended the event, where we had the opportunity to meet with clients, discuss new trends with our key partners and learn more about the latest hospitality trends through insightful workshops.
With more than 10,000 exhibitors from 186 countries and regions, it’s no wonder ITB Berlin is considered the world’s largest tourism trade fair. Our team logged many kilometers during the week while navigating the expansive maze of 26 halls on the exhibition grounds. When we weren’t meeting with partners and clients, we visited the stands belonging to destinations, hotels, tourism boards, tour operators, and airlines from around the globe. We also had the opportunity to attend some of the convention events and chat with other travel technology providers. Some of the major themes we heard throughout the week included the growth of experiential tourism, the breakthrough of artificial intelligence in hospitality and the potential of social media to drive more bookings.
Travelers want a better experience online as well as offline. Whether it’s a hostel or a luxury hotel, customers are looking for an easier website booking experience. Although prices remain the first factor in travelers’ decision-making process, they want to see more visuals and videos to aid in the selection process. Users are showing more responsiveness to creative ads which showcase a great travel experience. Furthermore, as the level of trust in a brand becomes more important for customers, hotel chains need to make their experiences unique and real.
Artificial intelligence in hospitality. It is no longer a surprise that artificial intelligence will be the next challenge for a lot of sectors. Many technology experts at ITB Berlin emphasized the possibility of artificial intelligence becoming stronger with more investment and time. Some current examples of travel AI that were highlighted include the spread of blockchain payment solutions, Google Flights’ use of machine learning to predict delays, and the Booking.com Assistant chatbot. The outlook on AI was optimistic at ITB, and many panel discussions and workshops revolved around automation and how it will change the face of the hospitality industry.
Social media is still underused by the travel industry. Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger are great channels to reach multiple generations with your message. Facebook’s Dynamic Ads for Travel (DAT) have already proven effective for driving revenue for hotels, but the travel industry currently accounts for only 7% of ad spend on Facebook. There’s still a huge opportunity for travel brands to catch up with other industries and take advantage of social channels to display meaningful content and reach travelers when they are expressing travel intent.
These are just three of the many themes discussed at ITB Berlin 2018. To see more content and presentations from the convention, check out the resources on the ITB website. We enjoyed attending and we hope to see you there next year!