I was in Berlin to attend ITB for the second time. ITB stands for International Travel Exchange Berlin and it’s the largest travel trade show in the world. I wanted to go because pretty much every country on Earth is there promoting itself and, like the first time, I thought for sure I would make some great connections and come home with a pile of business cards, but that didn’t happen.
FYI: The show is held for four days every March; the first two days are by invitation only – mostly media, buyers, and sellers. The last two days are open to the public and it’s just a grab fest for information.
ITB is a complete zoo and more than overwhelming. There are 26-plus buildings the size of aircraft hangars, and almost every country, hotel, airline, and car rental company in the world has a booth. The place is like a maze and there are multiple levels. They do have information points set up everywhere, but most of the workers are pretty clueless. It’s just too big.
I didn’t think I would ever go back but I did to attend the first ever blogger speed dating. Unfortunately, that didn’t go too well as a bunch of my scheduled appointments didn’t show up and the ones that did I already had contacts with. The best part was visiting Berlin again and seeing friends from around the world.
For those that do want to go my advice is to wear comfortable shoes and bring gum and hand sanitizer. Try and make appointments in advance, because at most booths I walked up to the people weren’t that friendly. The majority of the dealmakers seemed to be German, but there are folks literally from all corners of the earth.
I didn’t see every hall but out of all the ones I did I would say Emirates Airlines had the most impressive booth. It must have cost millions.
Signing up for ITB is easy: The organizers are on the ball and I received my badge in the mail about a week later (it’s free for journalists).
FYI: The press center sells food that’s 1/4 of the price of what’s sold in the show. i.e. One euro for water.